Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Suction cups

Why do you have flat suction cups with or without cleats?

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Cleats prevent products from getting sucked in. They increase the retention force of the suction cup by enlarging the active suction area. The product is stabilized by enhancing the axial stability.


Cleats are particularly recommended for flexible products or in case of high acceleration forces in the machine, since the product is prevented from shifting or slipping.

When do you use oval or rectangular suction cups?

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Oval and rectangular suction cups are suitable for longitudinal or cylindrical work-pieces occupying low space (e.g. rails, framings, tubes and bolts). They are also suitable for corrugated work-pieces and products having bars and webs.

They offer considerably greater suction force compared to round suction cups having the same width.

What is the maximum temperature at which the suction cups can be used?

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The use of suction cups at high temperatures is always dependent on the product and the time period in which the suction cup is in contact with the work-piece. In general, the following materials can be used:


Silicone: up to +392 °F

FKM: up to +392 °F

Thermalon®: up to +320 °F

HNBR yellow: for a short period up to +320 °F

Higher temperatures on request - Please get in touch with us: +1 919 6519888

Which material do you recommend if non-marking is specified?

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The skill of creating a suction cup lies in finding the optimum ratio between material weight, centrifugal forces, friction and air flow underpressure during handling: and doing this afresh for every application.


Non-marking – this may well only be a theoretically achievable goal, but we pursue this aim as far as possible in the practice, and for every application. When selecting the material for our suction cups, we choose those which suit the respective thermal, physical and chemical conditions. The contact surface on the suction cup and the contact surface on the workpiece are optimally tailored to one another. This results in homogeneous contact surfaces whereby the material contact is restricted to the sealing function for the underpressure. This means our suction cups work almost exclusively using air – thus making them virtually non-marking.


Examples: sheet metal suction cups made from NBR material, Thermalon® suction cups, suction cups with felt covering, cups with sponge layer, vinyl suction cups and various silicones.


We would be happy to assist you in finding the right material to suit your application. Please call us:

+1 919 6519888

Which suction cups can be used for food?

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The demands on suction cups in the food industry range from the handling of already wrapped foods to the direct handling of unpacked food products. Due to the specific contour and texture of the products, they mostly require a distinct adjustment of the construction of suction cups. Specific requirements are also posed upon the material. Thus, in the food industry there should only be used suction cups whose material is FDA conformal. Mostly silicone is used.

To satisfy your individual demands concerning suction cups for the food industry we are pleased to help you find the right suction cup for your application: +1 919 6519888

Which suction cups are resistant to chemicals?

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FIPA offers a wide product range of suction cups. Resistance against chemicals depends on several factors and varies from one material to another. We would be pleased to furnish information to you regarding the chemicals that various suction cups are resistant to.

Please contact us: +1 919 6519888

When are flat suction cups used?

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The flat suction cups of FIPA offer lateral stability owing to their shape during the suction process and positional accuracy when depositing the products.


Additional cleats in the cup provide greater lateral strength and prevent flexible products from being sucked in and the suction cups from shifting or slipping in case of high acceleration forces.

When are bellows suction cups used?

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Bellows suction cups are particularly suitable for sensitive materials having an uneven surface.


They facilitate easy level and angular compensation with varying product surfaces and pick up the product as soon as the vacuum is switched on.

The more folds that the suction cup has, the larger is the lifting movement and thus, the height compensation. However, the lateral stability reduces with the number of folds.

Bellows suction cups, hence, are recommended only for vertical handling of products.

What is the color of various materials?

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In general, it may be said that the color of the suction cup is independent of the material. For example, silicone is available in several colors from transparent right up to red.

Conversely, you cannot draw any inference on the material of a vacuum cup from its color.

Can special applications be implemented?

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FIPA offers a very wide range of suction cups, which means that a large number of applications can be covered with the cups available in its standard product range.

If, however, a product calls for a non-standard geometry or consistency, the FIPA team would be pleased to advise you regarding the manufacture of a customized product for your company.

Please get in touch with us: +1 919 6519888

Vacuum components

What are the values of maximum overpressure (e.g. with blow-off impulse) for which the components (filter, vacuum valves, etc.) have been designed?

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There are different values for each component. These are listed in our Product Section in most cases.

If you are unable to find it or require further information, please contact us: +1 919 6519888

When do you use oil-free or oil-lubricated vacuum pumps?

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Oil-lubricated vacuum pumps achieve a very high level of the final vacuum of 99.9% (= -29.5 inHg), generate high volume flow and can sometimes be used even in moist or humid ambient conditions. Moreover, they are suitable for continuous operation.

Oil-free or non-lubricated vacuum pumps generate high volume flow and a high level of vacuum (up to -26.0 inHg). They are particularly suitable for dry air, when the vacuum level changes frequently, and also for constant low-vibration extraction.

When is a side channel blower suitable?

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Side channel blowers generate a high volume flow with a low to medium level of vacuum. They are particularly suitable for handling porous materials (e.g. paperboard containers, insulating materials or similar) and compensate for leakages with their high suction power. Side channel blowers can also be used as extractors for particles that are not too coarse or abrasive.

At what values of pressure can vacuum pumps be operated in continuous mode?

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Most of the oil-lubricated vacuum pumps can be used in continuous mode of operation only under full load. For this purpose, a vacuum level of at least 99.8 % is necessary.

We would be pleased to assist you to choose a suitable vacuum pump for your application; please contact us: +1 919 6519888

What are the significant differences between an ejector and a vacuum pump?

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Vacuum pumps (a) are vacuum generators driven by a motor, in which the vacuum is generated from suctioned ambient air either in accordance with the displacement principle (= rotary vane pumps) or the impulse principle (= side channel blowers).


Ejectors (b) are vacuum generators, without a motor, that generate the vacuum from compressed air using the Venturi principle.


The FIPA product range covers ejectors having air consumption from ~ 10 l/min up to a maximum of about 800 l/min as well as vacuum pumps from ~ 1.18 scfm up to ~ 182.44 scfm.

When do you use a vacuum pump and when do you opt for an ejector to generate a vacuum?

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Rotary vane vacuum pumps are primarily used in applications demanding a high level of the final vacuum with a large volume flow at the same time. Areas of application are, for example, vacuum supply for centralized vacuum systems or for handling sealed work-pieces.

Their performance range: Final vacuum up to ~ -29.5 inHg, volume flow ~ 1.18 scfm up to about 176.55 scfm.


Side channel blowers offer a very high volume flow with a low to medium level of vacuum: Performance range: Final vacuum up to ~ -4,351 psi, volume flow up to 182.44 scfm.

Their application areas: Handling of porous products or products having a high degree of leakage, pneumatic extraction or evacuation of particles that are not too coarse or abrasive, for example, extraction of wood dust in the timber processing industry.


Ejectors provide a high level of final vacuum (~ -26.58 inHg) with low to medium volume flows at the same time (10 l/min. up to around 800 l/min.). They can be mounted directly in the suction line or on the suction cups.

Their application areas: targeted vacuum supply directly at the material to be handled, e.g. supply to suction cup units in a packaging machine. They represent an economic alternative to vacuum pumps, particularly for smaller quantities of suctioned air. Over and above this, FIPA ejectors are practically maintenance-free.

Which ejector do you use and when?

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In-line and mini ejectors:

These types of vacuum generators are single-chamber ejectors having a vacuum nozzle.

They are installed either directly in the hose line or directly at the suction cup or solenoid valves. Their air consumption values range from ~ 10 l/min. up to about 100 l/min.

Products with expandable options are also available (e.g. EMI models: Blow-off feature for short cycle times, vacuum switch connection and silencer options).


Compact ejectors:

These include the single-chamber ejectors of the models EKP, EKPP and EMM, which provide add-on features such as vacuum and blow-off control.

They are practically maintenance-free as a result of the dirt-proof design that does not use any filter. Moreover, the intelligent pressure control saves up to 50 % of compressed air or energy costs compared to other models available in the market without having to make any compromises. The EMM model is suitable for block assembly.


Multi-chamber ejectors:

Multi-chamber ejectors have several ejector nozzles connected one after another. As a result, they need up to 3.5 times less compressed air compared to single-chamber ejectors.

They provide an economical alternative particularly for high values of air consumption and are used for large volume flows and high vacuum levels.

They are used for handling air-permeable and porous materials (e.g. paperboard containers, wooden fiber boards and insulating materials) having extremely high air requirement.


Heavy-duty ejectors:

Heavy-duty ejectors are the robust vacuum generators for harsh working conditions. They are insensitive to fluctuations in the compressed air network (43.5-87.0 psi). Their square design facilitates space-conserving installation of ejector blocks.

Partially available with the blow-off feature, with air consumption values up to about 100 l/min.

What is the service life of the FIPA vacuum pumps?

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Since the service life of a vacuum pump depends on the application to a large extent, it is not possible to make any blanket or across-the-board statement in this regard.

Our technical marketing team would be pleased to give you an estimate related to your application: +1 919 6519888

When do you use vacuum grippers?

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Foam vacuum grippers can be used in almost all automated handling processes, such as, for example, stacking and unstacking pallets, separating and sorting. They are suitable particularly when the gripping position is not fixed or the quantum of material varies (you grip either a piece or an entire layer of the product).

In the process, gripping is independent of the surface, porosity, size or weight of the product.

We are at your service to assist you in choosing a suitable foam vacuum gripper: +1 919 6519888

What are the significant differences between directly controlled vacuum valves and those supported by compressed air?

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Directly controlled vacuum valves

When using a solenoid to control the valve, the valve flap is operated directly and a pneumatic line is not necessary. Versions with the switching functions NO (normally open) and NC (normally closed) are available separately.


Valves supported by compressed air

These valves are used in applications that require short cycle times and correspondingly fast switching operations. The valve function is supported by controlled compressed air.

The switching functions, NO and NC, can be realized with the same valve, since the vacuum supply and blow-off / bleeding or vent connections can be interchanged. It is not necessary to have a pneumatic line for these vacuum valves.

What is a Bernoulli suction cup?

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A Bernoulli suction cup generates a vacuum based on the Bernoulli principle from compressed air and thus facilitates low-contact and torsion-resistant transport of sensitive products.

Extremely thin, air-permeable and sensitive work-pieces (e.g. in the photovoltaic and semiconductor industry - wafer) can be handled in this manner.

When do you use vacuum tanks and how large should the tank be?

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Vacuum tanks are used whenever compressed air, vacuum or non-corrosive liquids need to be stored. They ensure efficient and energy-conserving utilization of compressed air and vacuum.

Vacuum tanks are particularly suitable when the compressed air or vacuum networks have highly fluctuating consumption patterns.

The size of the vacuum tank depends on the requirement of your application. We would be pleased to assist you with the selection, if you get in touch with us: +1 919 6519888

End-of-Arm-Tooling

Are the blades included in the air nippers?

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No, the blades must be selected according to the geometry or type of application and ordered out separately. You can browse the blades that are suitable for various types of air nippers in our overview.

It would be our pleasure to help you in selecting a suitable blade for your application: +1 919 6519888

What does "single-action" or "double-action" mean?

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Single-action grippers or air nippers are automatically restored to the initial position by a compressed spring, i.e. it is sufficient to apply compressed air to operate the gripper or the air nipper.


Double-action grippers or air nippers have separate compressed air connections for opening and closing. They are especially suited for short duty cycles as they do not rely on the reset time of a return spring.

Which valves are required to operate the grippers or air nippers?

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A 3/2-way valve is required for single-action grippers or air nippers.

A 5/2-way valve is required for double-action grippers or air nippers.

Which blades are required to cut copper or steel wires?

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Which blade is suitable for cutting different types of materials is given in the technical specifications of the blades in our product section.

It would be our pleasure to help you in selecting a suitable blade for your application: +1 919 6519888

Are the channel nuts already included in the gripper components?

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Yes, all connectors and clamps are mounted and delivered complete with the channel nuts.

The channel nuts are also available separately as spare parts.

Which air nipper should you use for your application?

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The choice of a suitable air nipper depends on the application to a large extent and can be determined only on a case-to-case basis.

It would be our pleasure to help you in the selection or conduct cutting trials using your components: Please get in touch with us at: +1 919 6519888

Are the quick-change systems compatible with those of other manufacturers?

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The FIPA quick-change systems with the dimensions of 60, 100, 160 and 250 mm (square) as well as 50, 90 and 150 mm (round) are compatible with most systems of other manufacturers.

Is the FIPA gripper system compatible with those of other manufacturers?

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All FIPA fixtures have been designed very universally and can be used with several extrusion systems. By using clamp diameters of 10, 14 and 20 mm, the gripper components are also interchangeable with those of other manufacturers.

The universal channel nuts of FIPA offer the maximum level of flexibility. They facilitate the integration of other FIPA gripper components in all framing systems available in the market.

What is the service life of the FIPA grippers?

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The service life of a gripper is dependent on the application to a large extent (property of the work-piece, cycle time, ambient temperature, etc).

However, using the Hartcoat® coated aluminum housing and the Hartcoat® coated gripper jaws, the FIPA grippers have demonstrated that they are highly robust and wear-resistant. As a result, they often have significantly longer service life, as compared to others made of steel or brass, which are completely uncoated or those whose housing alone is coated.

Are spare part kits available for grippers and air nippers?

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There are spare part kits available for most FIPA grippers and air nippers that facilitate easy replacement of worn out parts. Our technical marketing team would be pleased to advise you on the choice of the suitable replacement part kit: (919) 651-9888

Tube lifters FIPALIFT

What is a tube lifter?

The tube lifter, also called the vacuum lifter, is a lifting device or lifting equipment that is fixed to a crane and uses a vacuum for ergonomic, easy fluid lifting of various types of loads, such as packages, boxes, wooden and plastic panels, sheet metal or glass panels, as well as barrels and canisters. Lifting and load carrying are completed in a single procedure. Additional lifting equipment such as a chain hoist is not required here.

How does a tube lifter work?

Holding and lifting of the loads is realised by a vacuum. The lifting procedure is realised using a spiral tube, the so-called lifter tube; the load-carrying equipment is mounted at the end of this tube. The load-carrying equipment mostly also functions with a vacuum, but can also be mechanical. The suction foot, also called a vacuum cup, is placed on the load to be moved, e.g. a carton, the air in the suction foot and in the lifter tube is evacuated, the lifter tube folds together like an accordion, the load sticks to the suction foot and is lifted. If the vacuum is reduced, the load is lowered again. The vacuum is generated by a side channel blower, a vacuum pump or a multi-chamber ejector (venturi nozzle), depending on the application. Control of the tube lifter is by an operating component at the bottom of the vacuum lifter; this is used for one-hand lifting, lowering, suction and releasing of the load. These properties permit very rapid ergonomic and fluid load handling for the greatest possible efficiency.

How safe is the tube lifter? What happens if the power fails, for example?

The suction area of the load-carrying equipment and the diameter of the lifting tube are matched to each other in such a way that the lifting force of the suction foot (vacuum cup) or the vacuum gripper is always larger than the lifting tube. If you were to try to lift a load that exceeds the capacity of the suction foot, this load would never be lifted in the first place. A power failure also presents no danger; if the vacuum supply were to fail for such a reason, a non-return valve ensures safe, slow and controlled lowering before the load can fall off. A tube lifter (vacuum lifter) is thus a safe system that is far better in this regard than other lifting equipment.

Which regulations of the professional association apply to the tube lifter?

BGR 500 Chapter 2.8 is applicable in this area. VBG 9a has been replaced by this. As the BGR does not address vacuum lifters in particular, we feel that §22 of VBG 9a still provides a good guideline.

In which sectors and company activities can I use a tube lifter?

A FIPA tube lifter is a very universal piece of equipment, and even the standard version has a wide range of application possibilities, so that the same unit can be used to master a wide range of tasks. This means that all areas of internal logistics from goods receiving to production, warehousing and goods despatch are served and that problem-free material flow is guaranteed. With partially different load-carrying equipment we can move a large variety of types of goods, such as sacks, boxes, cartons, plates, sheets, windows, doors, glass panes, barrels, beverage crates and canisters. Virtually any application can be considered. Tube lifters can be used in any conceivable sector; these systems are often found in producing companies, such as in sheet metal processing, carpentry, window manufacture, breweries and in all types of logistics companies, as well as in all companies that have to control their material flow in the course of their internal logistics.

Are there special versions for the food industry?

For use in the food processing industry, above all for direct contact with foodstuffs, we can offer tube lifters with metal parts largely made from stainless steel, which are thus easy to clean. In addition, we can offer food grade vacuum cups made from silicone that have been approved in accordance with EU1935/2004 and FDA.

Crane technology

We already have a crane system with rails from a different manufacturer. Are the FIPA easy-run rails compatible?

The rail systems produced by many manufacturers are based on standard dimensions so that is possible that our components will fit with your crane. A revision of some of your steel rail systems in the project is available on request. Speak to us about it and our Technical Sales Department will be pleased to provide advice and information.

Does a crane system need to have regular tests and who can carry out the tests?

In accordance with §26 of the BGV D6 (Accident Prevention Regulations Cranes), the operator is obliged to have the cranes inspected by an expert authority, depending on the deployment conditions and the operating environment, but at least once a year. We would be pleased to offer this service, our colleagues with this responsibility have gained the expert authority certification for cranes and lifting devices from TÜV Süd (Germany) and are therefore authorised to test your crane system.

The roof to which we want to attach the crane rails is statically not designed for heavy loads, can FIPA still offer a crane?

If the rail system cannot be directly mounted on the roof or overhead construction, for static loading or other reasons, FIPA uses a frame gantry system. This is a steel construction that stands on the floor from which the rail system is suspended. FIPA has developed a construction kit which allows us to offer this system to you within a short time and at low cost.

None of the suspensions from the standard construction kit are suitable for our structural conditions. Can FIPA offer a special solution?

In most cases the standard designs of our suspensions are adequate, but, if specific structural conditions require a special type of suspension (re-clamping from wooden beams, a wall bracket), this is definitely possible on request.

I did not find any power units in your product range, can FIPA also offer powered or semi-powered crane systems?

In the course of projects, we can, of course, also offer crane systems with motorised crane bridges or trolleys, having one or two speed settings.

Vacuum lifter FIPA Spider

What is a vacuum traverse/vacuum lifter?

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A vacuum traverse, also called vacuum lifter, is a load handling device for lifting loads with smooth surfaces, for example, wooden panels, metal sheets and glass panels. The load is held by vacuum cups while the lifting process is carried out by a chain hoist, The vacuum generation is already permanently installed on the traverse.

How safe are vacuum traverses / vacuum lifters?

When operated within defined parameters, the vacuum traverse is an extremely safe tool.
The main traverse is designed as a vacuum accumulator that maintains a vacuum reserve for at least five minutes.
In the event of a power failure, the load is held for this time. An acoustic warning signal is emitted if the vacuum falls below the minimum value. At the same time, the employee can read off the vacuum level from a pressure gauge.
Optionally, the vacuum lifter can also be equipped with a signal lamp.
The acoustic warning signal and the optional signal lamp are equipped with a battery.
This allows the vacuum lifter to operate flawlessly in the event of a power failure.

I already have a chain hoist. Do I have to still purchase a chain hoist from FIPA?

You can use our vacuum lifter with your existing chain hoist. Please note the load-bearing capacity. It must match the load-bearing capacity of the vacuum traverse at least!

Our chain hoist has a three-phase 400 V alternating current. The vacuum lifter FIPA Spider, however, only has a single-phase 230 V. Will this work?

Yes. You can run single-phase power from your chain hoist without problem, even if it is designed for three-phase.
Please note that electrical work should only be conducted by a trained electrician!

Sometimes we do not know how heavy our goods are. How can I be sure not to exceed the load-bearing capacity?

You can combine our vacuum lifter with a crane scale, which is installed between the crane hooks and the traverse. We will be happy to supply this to you upon request.