There’s a lot of vacuum going on in the woodworking industry. From treatment to routing to handling, vacuum systems help meet the demands for higher speed performance, greater precision, faster production and better quality. Vacuum technology enhances the skills and talents of operators. Woodworking facilities of all sizes and production capabilities can precisely target their vacuum requirements to deliver maximum output. Here’s an overview of the most significant woodworking vacuum applications.
The IWF 2022 International Woodworking Fair was held August 23-26 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the first global woodworking fair since 2018. The Show attracted announced the attendance of thousands of verified buyers of woodworking equipment. IWF is the largest woodworking technology trade show in North America and is held every other year at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. It is ranked among the largest trade shows in the world.
This article will focus on optimizing the demand-side so the centralized “supply-side” (the vacuum pumps and controls) can then run at a lower energy and maintenance cost. First, I will start with a simplified model of a vacuum pump system demands. See Figure 1 for a one-pump/one-demand simplified system. See Figures 2-6 for some typical controlled and uncontrolled demands. The symbol with the three lines is an orifice, a hole essentially. I am defining three types of system demands adding up to the total demand on the vacuum pump.
A centralized vacuum system with three Mink claw vacuum pumps is used in each of the two Danish plants to generate the vacuum required for clamping. Both central vacuum system units have been in operation since July 2015 when they replaced the previously used dry-running rotary vane and liquid ring vacuum pumps. The rotary vane vacuum pumps required a lot of maintenance due to wear on the vanes. In addition, this vacuum generator gave off waste-heat directly into the production room. Its loud operating noise was also extremely uncomfortable for the employees. The water level of the liquid ring vacuum pumps had to be monitored constantly, and refilled or exchanged if the water became polluted with wood dust.
The integrated process that leads to perfectly finished components begins in the plant’s new material store. “One way we’re staying at the leading edge in our market is by researching the latest innovations and choosing the best machine for each process,” Legere explains. “Our new material store, operational in June 2017, is one example. It combines a physical data base of sheet goods with a robotic arm that handles materials and presents them to a cutting machine for processing. After a few minutes, a finished part emerges. All of this occurs with zero human interaction.”
Vacuum chucks and holding devices have been used in many industries for a variety of purposes, from lifting packages to holding items for machining. With the introduction of CNC routing machine-tools for mass production (of wood furniture, plastics and other non-magnetic materials), there was a need to clamp-down large work pieces on the flat router tables. Mechanical clamping was not an option as it caused damage to the work pieces and didn’t satisfy the need to quickly place items on the table and clamp instantly.
Multiple vacuum pumps can be running mostly “dead-headed” in the many production systems that don’t require constant flow. Any system that evacuates a small volume and then holds a product down while it is being machined, or sucks a bag shut to seal will spend the majority of its time not moving much mass of air. This type of operation is found everywhere in secondary wood processing, machining, food packaging, and many other industries. Anywhere vacuum is used as a motive force or to evacuate a small volume repeatedly. This article will apply to any of these types of systems- and not apply to constant-flow vacuum applications in the process industries.
ADA Möbelfabrik, headquartered in Anger, Austria, is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of furniture. Upholstered furniture, beds, mattresses and slatted frames are produced for the Austrian market and for many other European countries in two shifts, using modern manufacturing techniques. The vacuum supply required for securing items to the CNC machining centers is provided via a central vacuum plant produced by Busch. By opting for this vacuum system, ADA has integrated an extremely economical and reliable vacuum supply into the production process.
A large custom leather furniture manufacturer switches from rotary screw vacuum pumps to blowers for CNC router table hold down, and saves big on electricity, maintenance expenses and floor space.