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.

High Vacuum (Non-porous) and Low Vacuum (Porous) E-Vacs: Vacuum Generator Overview

In-Line E-Vac

With the amount of energy in compressed air, EXAIR can manipulate it by design for a variety of applications. One way that we can do this is by creating a vacuum pressure by the Venturi effect. By increasing the velocity of air through a constricted area, a low pressure, or vacuum, is created. Unlike a mechanical vacuum pump, the E-Vac does not have any moving parts or motors to wear. This maintenance free device uses only compressed air to generate a powerful vacuum pressure in a very compact and lightweight design. They can create vacuum levels up to 27” Hg (91 kPa) where complete vacuum is at 29.92” Hg (101.4 kPa). With our single stage systems, we can generate different vacuum levels and flows to create the optimal vacuum generation for your application.

Have you ever placed your hand over the hose of a vacuum? You can feel the maximum amount of vacuum pressure on your hand. The maximum vacuum pressure value is only at the condition of zero air flow. When you remove your hand from the hose, you change the vacuum pressure to a much lower value, but now you have the maximum amount of air flow. Like the E-Vacs, EXAIR has designed the product to either give you the maximum vacuum pressure or the maximum vacuum air flow. EXAIR separates these two vacuum generators as High Vacuum and Low Vacuum.

The high vacuum style is designed for non-porous products like glass, marble, and steel sheets. The low vacuum style is for porous products like cardboard, fabric, and plywood. Both types of vacuum generators are commonly used to pick and place parts, open bags, evacuate molds, and vacuum forming. They are easily adjusted by a regulator and a solenoid valve making the E-Vac very versatile. Even with no moving parts, these vacuum generators are quick to respond with very long cycle rates. The inline design makes them easy to install, so, you can begin using this vacuum product without much setup time. With the single stage design, it eliminates any vacuum fluctuation. I will go through both types of E-Vacs to explain the advantages in using these kinds of vacuum generators for different applications.

The High Vacuum Generator is used for non-porous products in pick and place applications as well as vacuum forming, clamping, and evacuation. This type of generator can create a vacuum pressure up to 27” Hg (91 kPa). In conjunction with the EXAIR vacuum cups, it allows for maximum holding capacity for heavy materials. We offer 7 different sizes ranging from 2 SCFM (65 SLPM) to 31 SCFM (872 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). They can be matched to the size and quantity of vacuum cups for increased efficiency as well as for improved cycle rates. If the surface of a rigid sheet is smooth or the application requires a high vacuum pressure, the High Vacuum E-Vac Generator would be the best product to use.

The Low Vacuum Generator is used for porous products as well as more delicate surfaces. This generator has a maximum vacuum pressure of 21” Hg (71 kPa). The design is such to allow for maximum air flow to make up any losses through the material or sealing area. With a regulator, you can control the maximum vacuum level to eliminate dimpling or disfiguring of the surface. Even with fabrics and rough surfaces, the Low Vacuum Generator can still pick up and hold the material. We offer 7 different sizes ranging from 1.5 SCFM (42.5 SLPM) to 17 SCFM (476 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). They can also be matched to the size and quantity of vacuum cups as well as to overcome any leakage. If the surface of the product being moved is rough or the surface is very delicate, the Low Vacuum E-Vac Generator would be the best product to use.

EXAIR created a video to show the difference between the E-Vacs as well as a demonstration.

Click Video

For experimentation with the E-Vacs and the vacuum cups, EXAIR offers kits for both types of generators. The standard kit includes four pairs of vacuum cups (matched to the size of the E-Vac), 10 feet (3 m) of poly line, and an assortment of fittings. For the Deluxe kit, it will include the same items in the standard kit, plus an automatic drain filter and a regulator. The E-Vacs are made of a durable 6061 aluminum, but if a different material is required for your application, EXAIR can review this request.

The EXAIR E-Vac offers an efficient, simple, and maintenance free solution to create vacuum. Whether lifting product horizontally or vertically, opening bags, aligning sheets or leak checking, the E-Vac ensures a flexible and reliable way to continuously keep your operation moving. As compared to an electric vacuum pump, these vacuum generators are much smaller, less expensive and much quieter. If you need help in sizing and selecting the correct model, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb