Vacuum workholding

I know vacuum tables are a thing, but has anyone considered using these vacuum pucks as their clamping methodology?

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Looks pretty nifty. Would be good to use for cuts that don’t go all the way through the work piece (I’ve cut into my waste board a few times on those lol). But idk if I need more clamping methods besides the few different types I use now and double sided tape.

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They seem to be pretty cool, but a bit on the pricey side. Also, what happens if the power to the pump goes, and your cnc router is still chipping along? Whoops!

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Hi Nick - I have not, but Winston Moy has a video on them. If I recall properly, they worked OK, but didn’t keep the material completely level - there was some variability in the surface height which could cause problems depending on your operations.

-Tom

Hey Guru, I had speculated that may be possible since you are relying on compression of a material.

Thanks for sharing the video. I’ll check it out!


I use these double-sided vacuum pods (much larger than the Rockler single-sided ones) and they work really well. Just did a PVC piece and the support was fine so no compression worries w/it. I can easily locate the pod(s) anywhere on the sheet metal depending on the size/shape of the workpiece. They aren’t for everything but they really work well for non-through cut projects.

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That is a nice set up. Which manufacturer are those from? I imagine the clamped metal plate allows the vacuum to hold on the underside of these? Is there any noticeable vertical movement of the work piece? Is the work piece drawn down to contact the inner plastic, or is it only supported by the outer gasket?
I am set up to use pods as well - hence all the questions :grinning:
I too think it will add to the hold down options, and be well suited to certain use cases.

I have 2 different pod models, VC4 and VC5 (made by Vac-Clamp). The VC4 is a single-sided pod that has tabs on it for being mechanically attached to the underlying surface (screws, bolts, etc). The VC5 is what you see here, which has a gasketed vacuum area on the under-side as well so it can moved anywhere and just re-clamps when the vacuum is on. It works well on steel or aluminum (or a worktable for off-CNC usage), so I started w/steel in case I wanted to use any magnets to help w/other locating items.
Pods are pretty easy to make so it’s not like these are magic - just an open cavity in non-porous material w/a groove for a gasket (in this case I have different sized gaskets so I can change the vacuum cavity shape to better match the workpiece. This is the largest gasket and there are 2 smaller sizes.
As far as movement, the whole table moves when I try to move the workpiece so it’s all good w/holding power. Of course, the more pods the better to help ensure both clamping and workpiece support. And yes, the workpiece is drawn down into the gasket material making a very secure contact against the plastic housing. And the housing happens to be ~1" thick so for larger pieces I can just use a 123 block(s) under the workpiece for additional support if I see any flex.
I’ve also found that for some materials that are porous (like 3/4" basswood), I simply need to apply some poly to the backside of the piece and then it holds the vacuum. It’s a really handy clamping option that I use a lot now.

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Hopefully my reply came through to your post… hard to tell from the forum page.

It did - and thank you for taking the time to provide the details you did, I very much appreciate it.
I had purchased two Rockler pods to test my vacuum system - pump, tank, valves, sensor, etc - and all seemed to work. I am almost finished my ATC upgrade, and my goal is to make my own at some point either from plastic or aluminum. I am happy to know your experiences are positive.

Just noticed your post and video on FB - thank you for sharing it.

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