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Vacuum Cup Selection Guide

Vacuum Cup Selection Guide

1st Dec 2022

Deciding which type of vacuum gripper and handling system is best for your application can be a daunting task. To help you learn more, the expert team at EDCO USA has compiled this guide to help lead you through the process of selecting the best vacuum cup for your application.

The Basics of Choosing Vacuum Cups & Vacuum Grippers

Vacuum cups and vacuum gripper systems hold an object in a fixture to lift or transport it from one position to the other without worry of damage. When designing a handling system, vacuum cups must be your first design consideration. The rest of the system is built around the cups and grippers you have selected, making vacuum cups a critical element within your gripper system. Several considerations inform which type of vacuum cup will be best suited to your application.

Vacuum Cup Work Surfaces

Understanding your workpiece’s surface will assist you in finding the best gripper for your application. The lifted object’s construction material, surface type, and contour type will influence the shape, size, and quantity of vacuum cups needed. Your object’s surface shape may be:

  • Flat
  • Slight Concave
  • Convex
  • Compound
  • Spherical
  • Cylindrical
  • Flexible
  • Plastic Film

Vacuum Cup Sizes & Quantity

Many people, especially when they are new to creating handling systems, believe that a higher vacuum level automatically translates to a greater lifting capacity. However, in many applications, a lesser vacuum level is required to keep an object securely gripped and undamaged. You can instead increase the size or quantity of vacuum cups to create a better lift.

Vacuum cups are sized based on the load, available vacuum capacity, and cup area. However, factors such as suction force and system pressure can impact the size. We do not advise increasing the required vacuum level to make a system work. Instead, increasing the number or size of vacuum cups will be more effective in creating a system large enough to meet your requirements. The best practice is to use only one cup style and size per end of arm tool.

Vacuum Cup Styles

Most vacuum cups feature a round shape. This design creates resistance to vacuum pressure, keeping the vacuum cup from collapsing. The circular shape distributes the load force more evenly through the cup walls to the fitting when compared to other configurations.
While the vacuum cup is still generally round, there is a wide range of vacuum cup styles to consider for your pick and place system. These include, but are not limited to:

Whichever style is best for your application, purchasing your vacuum cups from a high-quality manufacturer is essential to ensure a long lifespan and proper installation. All vacuum cups should be thoroughly tested to minimize risk after implementing your vacuum handling system.

Vacuum Cup Materials

Available vacuum cup materials will vary depending on your chosen manufacturer. For example, at EDCO USA, we use a wide variety of construction materials to create our vacuum cups, such as:

  • Ameriflex (A). This material is suited for general-purpose, normal ambient temperature applications and as a replacement for competitor’s PVC vinyl cups.
  • Duramax (D). Duramax is a softer, non-staining, non-marking, general-purpose material for high-visibility surfaces at normal ambient temperatures.
  • Nitrile/TPV (N). Nitrile/TPV works for general-purpose, normal ambient temperature applications. Some cups are Nitrile while others are TPV.
  • Silicone (S). Silicone is used for either cold or high-temperature applications or where greater flexibility will improve conformance to a part.
  • Conductive Silicone (S). Conductive silicone is suited for grounding parts, such as within electronic chips, to eliminate static electricity.
  • Flurocarbon/Viton™ (V). Viton is a registered trademark of DuPont Dow. It is suited for extremely high-temperature applications in the automotive, appliance, or other industries that do not allow for the use of silicone.

When choosing your vacuum cup material, your decision should be based on the size and weight of the handled objects.

Vacuum Cup Durometer

The durometer or hardness of any vacuum gripper varies based on the material used and the area’s temperature. Nitrile/TPV or Ameriflex cups are a great starting option as they are cost-effective and work well for most room-temperature applications. However, silicone works at extremely high or low temperatures and provides greater flexibility on thin workpieces than Nitrile/TPV. Meanwhile, Duramax has similar flexibility to silicone, but it should only be used for room-temperature applications.

Vacuum Grippers for Any Industrial Application

No matter your industry or project, pick and place handling systems are useful for safely lifting or moving objects quickly and efficiently. Some examples of vacuum gripper system applications include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Food handling
  • Moving sensitive plastic components
  • Lifting heavy metal parts
  • And more.

The style, quantity, size, and material of construction for your vacuum cup will vary depending on the specifications associated with your application. Always consult with an expert before choosing your vacuum cup and designing your vacuum handling system to ensure you have the best options to meet your exact specifications.

Your Go-To Experts for Selecting Vacuum Cups & Designing a Gripper System

Since our founding in 1994, EDCO USA has manufactured high-quality, American-made vacuum cups and other vacuum gripper systems for the USA and international markets. We design, manufacture, and document the performance of all EDCO products to provide unparalleled service to our customers and distributors.
To make your vacuum cup selection process as stress-free and straightforward as possible, we offer a large variety of resources, FAQs, and training materials in addition to our blog posts.