Vacuum lifters are types of lifting equipment that incorporate a vacuum as or as part of the lifting mechanism. They consist of a below-the-hook frame with a large vacuum pad or several smaller suction cups for grabbing large sheets, rolls, plates, or other smooth-surfaced products. They are driven by pneumatic, hydraulic, electric, or mechanical power.

Types of Vacuum Lifters

There are many different types of vacuum lifters. Choices include heavy-duty lifters, vertical-horizontal lifters, coil lifters, battery-powered vacuum lifters, and products with mobile attachments.

  • Heavy-duty vacuum lifters are made with oversized lifting frames, vacuum pads, and vacuum stations. They are designed to handle materials and products such as metal plates.
  • Vertical-horizontal lifters can hold a load in place either vertically or horizontally, depending on the application requirements.
  • Coil lifters are vacuum lifters for handling rolls and coils.
  • Battery-powered lifters are similar to electrically-powered devices, but have a rechargeable battery.
  • Mobile attachment vacuum lifters are suitable for use with forklifts, excavators, and other end-effector equipment.

Power mechanisms

Vacuum lifters can operate using four different types of driving mechanisms: pneumatic, hydraulic, electric, or mechanical power. Pneumatic or air-powered vacuum lifters are equipped with air cylinders or motors that provide lifting action. Hydraulic vacuum lifts are driven by an external hydraulic cylinder or hydraulic motor. Electric-powered vacuum lifters have an electric motor and feature a screw/scissor combination. Mechanical or self-powered vacuum lifters that do not require electrical or compressed air service are also available.

Selection Considerations

Selecting vacuum lifters requires an analysis of material-handling requirements and load orientation. The type, dimensions, and temperature of the material to be moved are important considerations, as different vacuum lifters are designed to handle materials of different specifications and conditions.

There are many choices for load orientation. Examples include horizontal, vertical, side-gripping, and angled tilting. Vertical lifters and side grippers may or may not rotate the load. Vacuum lifters with 90-degree tilting are often fully-powered. In quarrying applications, 90-degree gravity-tilting units with pivots are used. Vacuum lifters with a 180-degree or 360-degree tilting are also available. Side-grippers come in many styles and may be used instead of flippers to provide 360-degree rotation.