What Is a Vacuum Lifter and How Does It Work

Vacuum lifters are designed to lift materials and components with smooth or flat surfaces. Since they can be easily adapted for any application, vacuum lifters are ideal for a myriad of industries. Making a decision regarding the appropriate material handling equipment for your operations can be difficult. For example, industrial manipulators are another popular form of lifting equipment, but may not be the best solution for certain material handling problems. In some cases, vacuum lifters can be most effective, but it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of how they work.

As their name suggests, vacuum lifters utilize a vacuum to grip and lift various load types. It is a simple apparatus consisting of a vacuum pump which is connected by a hose to a lifting tube with a suction head and suction foot at the end of it. Keep in mind that some variations may refer to the suction foot as suction cups or vacuum pads. It is important to note that all terms refer to the contacts that hold the load.

Suction Feet

Suction feet are designed in differing shapes and are available as single or multiple options to suit a particular lifting operation. When suction feet touch a load, airflow is obstructed and an airtight seal is created, causing the vacuum level to increase until the load is secure enough to be gripped and lifted with confidence. This allows materials to be maneuvered safely through the handling process.

Vacuum Lifting Beams

Multiple suction feet are typically built into a specialist frame called the vacuum lifting beam. These beams are usually suspended from an overhead crane and a chain hoist is utilized to enable loads on the vertical axis to move with ease. This material handling equipment is suitable for operations that require lifting large glass panels. The suction feet provide numerous places for the load to attach which permits large safe working loads.

Vacuum Tube Lifters

A vacuum tube lifter is a great system to take advantage of due to its weightlessness and ease-of-use. Additionally, vacuum tube lifters eliminate the need for chain hoists or manipulators, and they are equipped with a protective sleeve around the lifting mechanisms, providing smooth, one-handed operation. JIB cranes, which are a type of crane that performs repetitive lifting tasks in compact work areas, suspend tube lifters and provide added horizontal travel capabilities. More than that, they allow the operator to extend their reach, while the lifting system supports the weight. 

Why Are Vacuum Lifters Used?

Vacuum lifters can help improve productivity, while providing an ergonomic solution to many material handling needs. They allow a single operator to control, grip, support, lift, and lower loads easily. Furthermore, they bear the burden of manual handling which can reduce workplace injuries. Vacuum lifters are low maintenance systems that, when serviced, reduce operational downtime. In addition, the use of suction feet enables components to be lifted without excessive damage to the surface or edges of products which is often sourced from manual lifts or grippers. This makes vacuum lifters a useful addition for industries that produce panels, boards, sheets, doors, and more.


Parts Circuit provides vacuum lifter parts for various military and civilian applications, all of which have been sourced from top global manufacturers that we trust. With over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items in our inventory, fulfilling even the most rigid part requirements and time constraints is easy. Get started today and see how Parts Circuit can serve as your strategic sourcing partner. For additional questions, call or email us at any time; we are available 24/7x365!  


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