Selecting the Right Vacuum Cup for Your Application

How Vacuum Cups Work For Material Handling

Vacuum cups are used in many industries, including packaging, printing, food, & beverage. Also known as suction cups, they make the perfect handling device on both manual and automatic types of machinery. They can handle almost anything from bottles, plastics, sheet metal, pipes, heavy glass, pipes, and bricks.

While the vacuum cup is for handling, it is not just the cup itself that performs the gripping onto materials. A source of vacuum is also needed to create a difference in pressure between the interior and exterior of the vacuum cup. Vacuum sources range from rotary vane pumps to vacuum ejectors. Regardless of the system, there are a number of different vacuum cup designs to account for the variation in weight and shape of handled objects.

Choosing The Right Design

To address all of the different vacuum cup applications, there are hundreds of styles to choose from. In general, all vacuum cup can be categorized by two different types; “flat” and “bellows”. As you’d probably expect, flat cups are used for more flat surfaces such as boxes, corrugated board or glass.

On the other hand, bellows vacuum cup have the look of an accordion with long, folded spines. These folds allow the cup to handle parts with uneven surfaces by compensating for differences in material landscape. This makes them perfect for lifting bottles, flexible packaging etc. Whatever the size or shape of the material, either of these shaped vacuum cups will be able to handle it.

Vacuum Cup Holding Force Equation

Now that we’ve narrowed down vacuum cups to two shapes, there are still a large number of specific styles for each shape to account for different weights and sizes. There are no one-size fits all with these parts and making sure that you use the right style suction cup is crucial for your packaging process to run smoothly.

To make the selection easier, use the following equation when selecting your vacuum cup:

Force = Pressure x Area

F = the weight of the objects in lbs multiplied by the lifting position
(2 for horizontal lift, 4 for vertical lift)

P = The expected vacuum level in PSI

A = The total surface area of the vacuum cup in square inches

We carry all sizes and styles of vacuum cups for industrial and packaging applications. Search through our selection of vacuum cups to purchase or give us a call to discuss which is the right style for your application: 1-800-229-0009.