Custom Solution From Stock For A Pick And Place Application

Even if you’re just a casual, infrequent reader of our blogs, you likely know that EXAIR Corporation is proud of our abilities to customize solutions for “out of the box” compressed air product applications. Oftentimes, this is offered as a custom engineered product, developed from a user’s specifications when one of our stock products just won’t work for one reason or another. For instance, when an exotic material of construction is required for heat or corrosion concerns, a special length or size is needed for space constraints, etc.

An Air Amplifier with a PTFE plug (left,) a curved Super Air Knife (center,) and a flanged Line Vac are just a few ways EXAIR has provided custom solutions.

Other times, though, we can use a stock product for something other than what everyone else uses it for.  We’ve sold Air Amplifiers for use in vacuum chucking, and pick-and-place applications – those are normally the realm of our E-Vac Vacuum Generators.  Speaking of E-Vacs, they’ve been used to deflate basketballs.

And speaking of E-Vacs (still,) I had the pleasure of helping a long-time customer solve a new problem in their growing manufacturing business.  They put their consumer products in blister packages, and recently converted one of the lines that picks & places the plastic “blister” onto the cardboard “backer” from two at a time, to six at a time.  They were using a Model 810003M E-Vac High Vacuum Generator, which worked fine, every time, with two Model 900762 1″ x 1/2″ Oval Vacuum Cups, but when they put four more of those Vacuum Cups on, they weren’t able to pick all six “blisters” every time.

These plastic blisters are smooth and non-porous, so this a “textbook” application for a High Vacuum Generator.  They’re also VERY lightweight, and were picked in a horizontal motion, so the 27″Hg that the Model 810003M can generate wasn’t actually necessary.  By replacing it with a Model 800003M E-Vac Low Vacuum Generator, the extra vacuum flow solved the problem, with no increase in compressed air consumption, which was critical for this area of their operation.

EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generators and Vacuum Cups are a reliable, low cost solution for most any pick & place application.

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can solve many of your industrial/commercial challenges.  Our catalog documents the ones they’re aimed at.  Others need to be addressed by knowledge and experience…and maybe a little theory to practice.  If that’s the case, call an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’re here to help, and we’re pretty good at it.

How Versatile Are EXAIR Compressed Air Products?

I wish I could quantify that, but we keep finding more and more applications for them:

Vortex Tubes are used all the time for cooling applications, down to MINUS 40 degrees (Fahrenheit OR Celsius…that’s the point where they’re both the same; no math required.) They also produce a HOT air flow, which we usually call “exhaust,” but some users actually use IT for heating, and call the COLD flow the “exhaust.”

The EXAIR Vortex Tube. Cold air from one end; hot air from the other. Fully adjustable. You can use either...it's fine with us; whatever you need.
The EXAIR Vortex Tube. Cold air from one end; hot air from the other.  You can use either…it’s fine with us; whatever you need.

Our E-Vac Vacuum Generators are popular for “pick-and-place” jobs…hook one up to a Vacuum Cup and you can move parts around all day long. One time, though, I helped a

customer who needed to “pick-and-place” individual small pieces of woven fabric, a lot like a coffee filter. Even our smallest E-Vac, supplied from a Pressure Regulator cranked all the way down, was too much…it would still pick up most of the stack. We found they could use a Model 120020 3/4″ Super Air Amplifier just fine…the Pressure Regulator was still cranked all the way down, and it picked them up one at a time.

No matter what you need to pick-and-place, we've got you covered.
No matter what you need to pick-and-place, we’ve got you covered.

Our Super Air Knives are perfect for blow off, drying, and cooling applications…whether you’re trying to rid your product of dirt/debris, water, or heat, a laminar curtain of adjustable air flow is a “textbook” solution. But I recently had the pleasure of helping a customer who needed to KEEP SOMETHING IN PLACE and called to ask about an Air Knife. They had small cups running single-file down a conveyor belt, with an overhead brush roller pushing down on them at one point so they could be treated on one side. Without something holding them in place, the tooling would simply push them off the side of the conveyor. It required frequent adjustment because they run different sized cups…and they almost always lost some cups when they switched to a different size, while “dialing in” the brush tension. By installing a Model 110036 36″ Aluminum Super Air Knife in place of the brush, they can hold any size cup in place with the downward air flow “curtain.” No more lost product when they don’t get the brush adjustment just right!

Continuous, even, fully adjustable curtain of air...EXAIR Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet.
Continuous, even, fully adjustable curtain of air…EXAIR Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet, in stock.

If you have a compressed air application you’d like to discuss, give me a call.  Perhaps we’ll find the next level of versatility!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Vacuum Generator System Selection – EXAIR E-Vacs

E-Vac Vacuum Generators are a highly efficient, versatile compressed air vacuum pump. Their versatility allows them to be adapted to many applications such as pick and place, clamping or vacuum forming. They’ve also been used in more unique applications like wood veneer pressing and basketball deflation.

EXAIR manufactures (3) types of E-Vacs – Low vacuum generators for porous materials, like cardboard, generating up to 21″ Hg with vacuum flows as high as 18.5 SCFM. Our high vacuum generators, designed for use with non-porous materials like glass or steel sheets, produce vacuum levels up to 27″ Hg and up to 15.8 SCFM of vacuum flow. The adjustable generators provide flexible vacuum performance, up to 25″ Hg and 81 SCFM,  which can be easily adapted to meet the application.

EXAIR E-Vacs provide instantaneous vacuum response, and are engineered for high efficiency to minimize air consumption.

 

When making a selection, there are a few key areas you want to consider:

Is the material porous or non-porous?

  • This will allow you to select the proper type of vacuum generator to fit the application and the type of vacuum cup best suited for the process.

 

What is the weight of the part and how will it be lifted?

  • If the part is being lifted where the vacuum cups will be positioned horizontally, like on top of a sheet of glass, you want to use a safety factor of 2 times the actual weight of the part. In processes requiring the cups be positioned vertically on the part, such as picking up a sheet of plywood and hanging it on an overhead conveyor, a safety factor of 4 would be used.

 

How many Vacuum Cups do I need?

  • Consider the quantity and placement to evenly distribute the weight for safely moving the material.
  • Depending on the maximum vacuum the generator produce, how much weight can each cup lift?
  • Make the cup selection per the following chart

 

Once you have selected the type and number of cups needed, you can then begin to look at which additional accessories items you might need.

  • Filters – supplying clean, dry air is key for maintaining optimal performance. An automatic drain filter  can be used to remove any water or contaminants in the supply line. If there is oil present, consider using an Oil Removal Filter.
  • Mufflers – help to reduce the noise level without restricting the airflow. We offer 2 different styles – Standard and Straight Through. Standards mufflers are a good choice where the supply air is clean and dry. These mufflers can only be used with the porous and non-porous generators. The Straight Through mufflers reduces sound levels by up to 26 dBA and are the better choice in processes where dirt or particulate may be present.
  • Tubing and Fittings – polyurethane tubing is available in 10′ sections up to 50′ for processes requiring the vacuum cups be placed in a location that wouldn’t allow for direct mounting to the NPT vacuum port on the generator or where multiple cups are needed. You want to keep the length of tubing as short as possible though for effective pickup and release time.
  • Check Valve – will maintain vacuum on the load if the supply pressure were to drop or be lost during operation.

For additional assistance selecting the proper E-Vac and accessories for your process, please contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

E-Vac Vacuum Generators- For More Than Just Pick and Place

A textbook application for vacuum generators is the ‘pick and place’ function.  With ever increasing automation and robotic cells, more and more opportunities present themselves to utilize the E-Vac Vacuum Generator as a part of the system to ‘pick up’ an object and ‘place’ it in a new position. But the E-Vac’s can be used for many more types of applications.

evac_models (2)
In-Line E-Vac

Another popular usage is to hold something in place. One of our customers uses an array of Adjustable E-Vacs to pull a vacuum and hold down various sizes of Styrofoam sheets during a machining operation. The previous system was a 1 hp blower type, and did not offer any flexibility for handling different size sheets. Sheets would slip and produce off quality results. After installing the new design, the system was able to handle any size sheet, and scrap levels went down dramatically.

adjustable_evacs (2)
Adjustable E-Vac

A unique implication that was solved with an E-Vac was to deflate sporting balls.  The customer printed custom logos, and preferred the items to be flat for the printing operation. Using a commercial grade electric shop vac didn’t completely deflate the balls, and motors burned out often.  Using a low vacuum In-Line E-Vac with a quiet Straight Through Muffler, the customer can now quickly and quietly, fully deflate the balls.

Another popular use for the E-Vac is to pull a vacuum for drawing up liquids or gases. A customer that manufactures automotive seats was having issues with the process, where the expanding foam was producing a gas, and the gas would produce pockets and voids in the foam after setting.  The customer used a model 800017 In-Line E-Vac to create a vacuum inside the mold and draw off the gas, eliminating the pockets and the voids in the final product.

Lastly, as I am big fan of recycling, anything and everything, we worked with a customer that recycles the old CRT style of computer monitor  (remember those?) The housing would be sawed in half, so that access to the internal components could be made. Because of the variability in the size and shape of the monitors, the customer was using an adjustable chuck system, which took time to set-up for every monitor, each being a bit different. To speed up the process, an EXAIR In-Line E-Vac and 5″ Suction Cup was implemented, and the monitor held in place by the screen, which was was very consistent in shape from monitor to monitor. This change reduced the set-up time required.

These and other Applications for the E-VACs and all other EXAIR products can be found on the EXAIR website on the Products page, under the Related Info section toward the bottom of each page.

If you have questions regarding E-Vac Vacuum Generators or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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E-Vac for Epoxy Recycling

Recently, a manufacturer of custom magnetics called in about a special application. In the manufacturing of certain electronic systems, a very expensive, thick epoxy glue is used. They were exploring ways to be able to collect the excess after application.  They had used a system in the past and were looking to replicate it.  The previous system had an old boxy vacuum generator, and they asked us if we could provide a vacuum source that matched the performance specifications but in a more compact design.  After researching the specifications and a comprehensive comparison, we could offer the EXAIR model 810013 Inline E-Vac, generating up to 27 ” Hg of vacuum.  A basic sketch of the design concept is shown below-

Capture

By using the model 810013 to create a vacuum within the chamber, a strong suction can be generated at the tube inlet, strong enough to draw in the excess epoxy. The glue can be collected in the chamber for recycling and reuse, and because of the design, the glue does not pass through the E-Vac and cause any issues with build up or blockage that would hinder the performance, leading to the need to clean the unit.

In-LineE-VacFamily
The Many Sizes of E-Vac Models Available

EXAIR manufactures E-Vac’s for both porous and non-porous applications, as well as a line of Adjustable E-Vac Generators.  Smallest units use only 1.5 SCFM of 80 PSIG compressed air and the largest Adjustable E-Vac unit can pull 81 SCFM of air at open draw and 15″ Hg vacuum level setting.  With a wide range of sizes and types, there is a model available to meet your vacuum generation needs.

As a side note – the EXAIR Reversible Drum Vac, High Lift Reversible Drum Vac, Chip Trapper, and High Lift Chip Trapper all use this same basic principle of applying a vacuum to a chamber, but on a much larger scale, to turn a 5, 30, 55 or 110 gallon drum into an industrial liquid vacuum system.  The vacuum generating unit is of a different design, made specifically for the Industrial Housekeeping Products.

To discuss your process and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can solve your toughest application issues, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Think Of Quality And Service, Think Of EXAIR

As an Application Engineer at a direct sales manufacturing company, I get to talk to a LOT of people about potential uses for our quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products. And, I’m happy to say, most of them I can even help with…even if the answer is “that’s just not gonna work.” Those are few and far between, however, and we can usually point someone in a better direction in those cases.

By the time we’ve “drilled down” into an application discussion far enough to make a product recommendation, we’ve got a pretty good feeling about it, and a vast majority of the time, our product solves the application in a big way. So big, in fact, that it makes them think of EXAIR again, and again.

Case in point: not long after I started here in 2011, I had the pleasure of helping someone out with some pick-and-place rigs on their packaging line…small products, bulk packaged for shipment to retail outlets. They used our Model 810003M E-Vac High Vacuum Generator and 900762 Small Round Vacuum Cups. Over the years, they’ve added some new products, and some more of the E-Vac pick-and-place rigs. It’s always good to hear from them, and I really believe the feeling is mutual.

EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generators provide a simple and reliable solution to pick-and-place applications.

Now, they want to automate a little clean-up operation where pilot holes are drilled in a plastic part, and are considering an intermittently operated vacuum. The concern is, if they use an electric powered one, the starting & stopping will take a toll on the motor. And they’re right.

So, the Model 6193-5 Mini Chip Vac System is up for consideration. Because it’s compressed air operated, constant starting & stopping is no problem…and, it’s generating vacuum immediately, so it’s ideal for quick bursts of cleanup suction action. No electric motor to burn out, no moving parts to wear – it’s a long term, maintenance-free solution.

Quiet and compact, the Mini Chip Vac is an ideal solution for a variety of industrial housekeeping needs.

If you’re an EXAIR engineered compressed air product user, I want to thank you for your business. If you’d like to discuss a particular compressed air product application (regardless of whether you’re a current user or not!) give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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An E-Vac Improves Manufacturing of Contact Lenses

 

Contact Lens

Vacuum pumps have vanes, electric motors, and bearings that can wear out.

A contact lens manufacturer called EXAIR to ask about our E-Vac Vacuum Generators.  Their operation consisted of using a small vacuum cup to grab the contact lens for polishing.  Due to the long hours of operation, their mechanical vacuum pump would start to malfunction.  The vacuum pressure would start to decline, and the contact lens would begin to shift or fall off.  This would affect the clarity of the lens, and it would have to be rejected.

Our company found that the vanes in the vacuum pumps would start to wear. They would have to shut down the process to recondition the vanes, causing down time.  After a few times of refurbishing the pump heads, the bearings in the electric motors would then start to wear.  A loud high pitch noise would be generated, indicating that the motors needed to be replaced.  This would cause even more downtime.

EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generator

After carefully reviewing the customer’s needs, I suggested the model 810002M E-Vac High Vacuum Generator.  This model can create a vacuum level of 27” Hg with only using 2 SCFM of compressed air; perfect for holding the contact lens firm to the vacuum cup for polishing.  The E-Vac has no moving parts or bearing to wear out.  They use compressed air to generate a venturi vacuum, so the only maintenance is to clean or change the compressed air filter yearly.  Its compact size made the E-Vac more versatile than the much larger vacuum pump that it would replace.  The customer could mount the E-Vac much closer reducing the volume of air in the vacuum lines to evacuate.  This gave them an almost instantaneous vacuum at the lens which could improve the speed of the operation.

If you wish to eliminate downtime to fix, change, or recondition motors and pumps, the E-Vac could be the vacuum pump for you.  If you need help to size the correct model for your application, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Photo: Contact Lens by Andy Simmons.  Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.