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Subject: Re: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ?


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Message Thread:

Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ?


I was curious if anyone has come up with a great design for building home made cups/pods/blocks or whatever you want to call them to hold down material on a nested machine. I have seen some aluminum ones that are factory made, but they are very pricey and not a lot of selection for the older machines.
I searched the forums and found some ideas from 7 years ago, but was thinking a lot of good ideas and designs have probably come to pass over that period of time.

11/3/20       #2: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
jerry Member

I built some out of 25mm pvc that I screw to the table when I need to side profile

11/3/20       #3: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
B.H. Davis Member

See bottom of this page but this may be one of the older methods you mentioned.

BH Davis

Custom pods

11/4/20       #4: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
Mark B Member

We've made several gasketed versions from solid surface drops. With 3D printing services now you could have some printed reasonably. The molded pods that don't require gasketing are nice but very pricey as you mention.

11/4/20       #5: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...

Thanks for the help so far, I guess I will go off topic a bit on my own post, but is it hard to machine/cut the pvc or acrylic sheets on the cnc? I have never done it before, do you need multiple passes, special tooling, spindle and travel speeds?
I guess I can research it on here.

11/4/20       #6: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...

If you do not have a grid table and just want to hold oversized pieces anywhere on the table for secondary machining it is very easy. A chuck of PVC/UHMW/ALUM..., gasket material both sides, a couple of holes, brass connector for tubing, and connect to a pump. I use scrap plastic.

If you have a grid table and want to use the pods as reference points for setups, then it takes a bit more time to sort out all the tolerances to make them. After that, it is about the same as any pod except you need to mill out the top/bottom to fit the grid. The video below is a good example of making your own.

I like the BVC Vacuum Ball valves. There are other cheaper option on the market, but these are quite nice and work up to 25"Hg

Do you have a grid table with vacuum ports or do you need to plumb each pod? If the later I can share a few other tips. I have built quite a number of these.

I would caution that if you account for your time and the machine time making these you might want to just buy them. The BVC pods have a very nice replaceable gasket top that is a good idea if you have many operators. That part is very difficult to replicate.

11/4/20       #7: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
jerry Member

PVC cuts very easy with any wood tools I use a 1 flute upcut for the plenum and cutout.

11/5/20       #8: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
Mark B Member

PVC cuts easy, feeds and speeds are a bit more critical because it can get gummy and weld chips similar to lexan/plexi in my experience but its simple to cut.

Solid surface is a bit more forgiving on feeds and speeds but equally as easy. No special tooling. We just use SS because we have drops from commercial work. PVC would be much lighter.

11/22/20       #9: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
Salce  Member


PVC is easy to cut, Aluminum always pricey. bakelite plate (phenolic resin) is a good way, it is hard enough, and price is moderate. In the market there are mainly 4 kinds of vacuum pods, Biesse, SCM/Morbidelli, Homag/Weeke and Schmalz. RicoCNC is also a good source for flat grid table.

View higher quality, full size image (600 X 600)

View higher quality, full size image (600 X 600)

11/22/20       #10: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
Ray Bly

call all star adhesives talk to mike he has helped me go the opposite way from pods to nested, I'm currently building a 4x4 nest that sits on my pods the prototype worked great. i'm sure he would have some ideas and if your a first time buyer he will send you a seal kit.

5/18/21       #11: Vacuum cups/pods/blocks ? ...
Mike McClaran

Likely a little late on this one, but the time it takes you to research and develop your own cups you could have had these running on your machine for less than your investment. I've said this before even on "stick with what you know like making cabinets". I've had customers call us up after making their own vacuum cups only to have expensive material fly off of their plastic cups. They always say " I should have called BVC first". Shown here are the new cups that go on top of your spoilboard. BVC


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