This week application is brought to you by the muffin man. A customer called in this week who was charged with building a small muffin pan lifting system. The customer, an automation company, was contracted by a bakery to lift individual aluminum baking pans from a stack of pans to load on conveyor where the pan would be filled with batter and baked. The weight of the pan was around .25 pounds so the weight was minimal, but the mini muffin tins didn’t have a large flat surface for a vacuum cup to lift upon. The bakery wanted the vacuum frame to lift multiple pans at once to meet there production schedule.
So what makes this system noteworthy? Normally with vacuum systems, the weight of the unit is most important, but in this case the shape of muffin tin is the limiting factor. The mini muffins were only .8″ wide at the base, and the cups were less than 1/4″ apart. Because of this geometry there was only one vacuum cup that could gain a good grip on the muffin tin. The part number 900766 vacuum cup is a small bellows style cup that is .73 inches. This small diameter part allowed us to lift on the flat round bottom of the muffin cup. I advised the customer to use at least (2) vacuum cups on each muffin pan to increase capacity and have some redundancy in the system to lift a pan with every movement of the frame that the automation company would be moving.
If you look at the vacuum cup lifting capacity chart (scroll down the page when it opens), you see that even with (1) 900766 and 15 inches of water column we can lift 6 times the weight of the pan (1.5 pounds), so we don’t need to use a non-porous generator, but can use a porous generator which will still have enough vacuum flow, even if we have an open vacuum cup from a pan that is left behind.
Since he was trying to lift three muffin tins at once, we used (2) of the model 820003M vacuum generators, and (6) of the 900766 vacuum cup. Each of the 820003M fed three of the vacuum cups on different pans, so that if one of the vacuum generators has a failure the pans will still be lifted.