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Feeding stackable items – Friction vs. Vacuum

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So which is better….friction vs. vacuum feeding for stackables. What is a ‘stackable’ item?

Anything that can be organized or ‘stacked’, trayed or loaded into a magazine in an organized manner. Examples are DVDs, magazines, literature, sandpaper, trays (most), brochures, coupons, etc. Thickness can vary as you see from the examples. Each item shares one characteristic – its stackable.

Considerations for selecting the style of automatic feeder (either one based on the use of friction or a pick n’ place style using vacuum)

  • Speed required: Usually friction is faster than vacuum
  • Accuracy of placement required: Vacuum is most often used when tolerances are tight
  • Nesting of products: We think of trays typically in this case. Think microwave-able dinner tray. Friction feeding won’t work because the trays are nested together. Use vacuum here.
  • Quality of finish: We have seen this with trading cards and other high-gloss finished items. The finish on the item may scratch if run through a friction feeder. Vacuum gets the nod.

When looking for a supplier, its best to deal with a firm that handles both styles of feeders so you’re not lead into the wrong automated solution.