Vacuum Gripper


Vacuum grippers act as the connection element between the machine and workpiece, and are used to lift and transport objects of all kinds. These grippers can be divided into different categories: A general distinction is made between flat and bellows suction cups, and there are also various special grippers for specialized applications such as the handling of solar wafers. Vacuum suction cups are generally available in round or oval designs. All types of suction cups are available in different materials, making them extremely flexible. Schmalz vacuum grippers can therefore be used in almost all areas of application, for example for wood processing or in the food industry.

The extensive portfolio of vacuum grippers can be found in our online shop and ordered directly.

Vacuum grippers
Special grippers

Flat Vacuum Gripper

Flat vacuum grippers have a small internal volume, which allows the air to be evacuated quickly and the vacuum to be built up quickly. This reduces cycle times in highly dynamic processes. This type of suction cup is usually used for handling flat or slightly curved workpieces. Due to their relatively high intrinsic stability, flat vacuum grippers can absorb higher lateral forces than bellows suction cups.

Vacuum Gripper with Bellows

Bellows suction cups are characterized by the eponymous bellows. Depending on the application, bellows suction cups have 1.5 to 4.5 folds. The bellows contract when the air is evacuated, creating a lifting effect. The advantage of a vacuum gripper with bellows is that the bellows gently lift the workpiece to prevent damage to fragile items. In addition, the flexible bellows adapt to the properties of the workpiece and compensate for height differences, which means workpieces with uneven surfaces can also be lifted using a suction cup.

Vacuum Grippers for Use in Specific Industries

There are different challenges in every industry that need to be overcome. This is why Schmalz offers special grippers for a number of industries that are optimally tailored to the requirements of the respective sector. Schmalz offers special vacuum grippers for the sheet metal/automotive, packaging, CD/DVD, plastics and electronics industries.

Vacuum Grippers for the Automotive/Sheet Metal Industry

In the area of sheet metal handling, it is particularly important to absorb high lateral forces. This is why Schmalz developed suction cups for handling sheet metal with innovative shapes and interior structures. Workpieces with few flat surfaces or no flat surfaces, or oily and very sensitive sheets can be handled safely and quickly.

Vacuum Grippers for Handling Glass

When handling glass workpieces, such as windows, suction cups that leave few marks are required. Thanks to their high vertical and horizontal holding forces, in combination with their low level of marking, Schmalz vacuum suction cups ensure a high level of process reliability in glass handling.

Vacuum Grippers for the Packaging Industry

The packaging industry often handles unstable or non-rigid packaging. Special vacuum grippers for the packaging industry were developed for these applications. The Schmalz product range therefore also includes solutions for handling both rigid and non-rigid packaging. It is also important to overcome similar challenges when handling foils and paper. To prevent a through-suction effect during handling, Schmalz has developed the lifting suction cup. This solution ensures reliable separation of paper or film layers by lifting the entire connected suction cup using a piston as soon as the contact with the workpiece is established.

Vacuum Grippers for Handling CDs/DVDs

When handling CDs and DVDs, it is also important to grip them gently and without leaving any marks. Special round or half-round grippers for handling CDs/DVDs in high-speed, fully automatic systems can ensure high process reliability in these applications.

Vacuum Grippers for High-Temperature Applications

Applications such as hot forming in the metal industry or tempering processes require the grippers to be extremely heat-resistant. Schmalz also provides vacuum grippers for this industry. The grippers are characterized by heat resistance of up to 600°C and surfaces that leave few marks.

Vacuum Grippers for Special Applications

Schmalz provides special grippers for very specific applications or for workpieces that either cannot be gripped by conventional vacuum suction cups or can only be gripped with a great deal of effort. These special grippers sometimes work with a vacuum, but there are also solutions for workpieces that cannot be gripped with a vacuum, or can only be gripped with a vacuum with great difficulty. Schmalz grippers for special applications are divided into five product groups:

  • Floating suction cups allow low-contact handling of workpieces using air cushions between the vacuum gripper and the workpiece.
  • Magnetic grippers are particularly suited for handling perforated sheets, complex laser-cut workpieces and sheet metal with drill holes or apertures. A permanent magnet ensures process reliability, even in the event of a sudden power failure.
  • Needle grippers are used to handle porous or unstable workpieces such as textiles, insulation materials and foams, composite textiles, felt, carpet, fabric or metal foam. The gripping process is carried out using extending needles that can gently pick up the workpiece and lower it again.
  • The wafer gripper was developed specifically for the requirements of the solar industry. The high flow rate with a moderate vacuum level prevents damage to the sensitive wafers. The grippers can effortlessly provide cycle times of less than one second.
  • The Coanda vacuum gripper was developed for handling non-rigid, delicate and/or air-permeable workpieces such as foils, paper, wood veneers, printed circuit boards or glass fiber fabric. Similar to the wafer gripper, the flow gripper uses a high flow rate to ensure gentle and secure gripping of the workpiece with a moderate vacuum level.

Vacuum Grippers in Complete Systems

In addition to its comprehensive range of vacuum grippers, Schmalz also offers complete systems with integrated grippers. These systems are collectively referred to as vacuum gripping systems and are used in automated handling applications. Even in complete systems, the vacuum grippers can be adapted to the respective application and thus ensure efficient and safe processes. In some applications, special sealing foam is used for handling flat or even workpieces. The gripping systems from Schmalz are divided into four categories: Area gripping systems, layer gripping systems, suction spiders and end effectors.

Area gripping systems generate a particularly high suction force with low weight. This allows smaller robots to be used, which reduces operating and investment costs. Thanks to a selection of different vacuum suction cups, large-area gripping systems from Schmalz can handle a wide variety of workpieces — regardless of size, shape, material and surface.

Layer gripping systems are designed to grip entire layers of workpieces, in intralogistics or warehouse logistics, for example. The combination of a mechanical gripper, a vacuum gripper plate and a global vacuum chamber allows pallets to be handled — even if they are only partially covered.

Suction spiders are used to automate handling processes in production, assembly and quality inspection processes. They are configured individually for Schmalz customers and can therefore be equipped with a wide range of vacuum grippers.

The vacuum end effector VEE is a modular platform for combining individual suction cups. These grippers are used on Delta and SCARA robots and minimize cycle times thanks to their low weight. The Schmalz modular system allows for configurations with up to twelve suction cups.