Foam for vacuum lifter

Foam Parts for Vacuum Lifters

How Elasto Proxy Supports Stone Countertop Manufacturing

In this case study, you’ll learn how Elasto Proxy helped a stone countertop manufacturer solve a material handling challenge. By applying our technical design, compound selection, and custom fabrication expertise, we provide the protective pads used in vacuum tools that move quartz slabs.

Stone countertop manufacturing is a complex process. First, raw materials are fed into special mixers and blended together. The mixture is then poured into a mold and formed into slabs of various sizes. After the stone slabs are compacted, they’re moved to a curing kiln and heated for ultimate strength and stability. Polishing, quality assurance, and labeling complete the stone countertop manufacturing process.

When a leading manufacturer of quartz countertops asked Elasto Proxy for assistance with a material handling challenge, our solutions providers studied the requirements for a foam pad that helps move slabs into a 200° F kiln. This elastomeric pad attaches to the vacuum tooling and protects both the tool and the slab. High-temperature resistance and compression set are essential, but so is resistance to suction loss since the stone slabs are so heavy.

Technical Design

As the stone countertop manufacturer explained to Elasto Proxy, the polyurethane foam that they were using was problematic. After listening to all of the global manufacturer’s requirements, our technical team recommended a sandwich-like structure made of various materials. By layering silicone and polyester foams, Elasto Proxy could provide vacuum tool attachments with the necessary compression set, high-temperature resistance, and resistance to suction loss.

The sandwich-style structure that we recommended included an outer layer with a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). By designing a foam pad with a PSA on one side, Elasto Proxy could supply parts that would attach readily to the vacuum tooling. Unlike other types of adhesives, PSAs don’t require heat, water, or solvents for activation. Importantly, PSAs can support heavy weight-bearing applications such as the movement of stone slabs in countertop manufacturing.

Compound Selection

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As a long-time supplier of industrial rubber products, Elasto Proxy has the technical knowledge and application expertise to recommend the right compounds for demanding applications. We also work with a trusted network of material suppliers who can provide the specialized compounds that you need.

Given the requirements for the foam pads used in heavy-duty vacuum lifters, we suggested a special type of silicone foam that was developed originally for military applications. As the data sheet for this material shows, our silicone foam rubber provides more than just high-temperature resistance. This lightweight, non-toxic material is also UL 94 V-0 rated for flame resistance, which makes it a good choice for use with industrial kilns. The silicone foam’s reinforced EPDM backing imparts additional material properties, as does the polyester that’s also part of this foam structure. Specially, this polyester foam helps with compression set, another key application requirement for the countertop manufacturer.

Custom Fabrication

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To build sandwich-like structures like foam pads for vacuum lifters, Elasto Proxy users water jet cutting to convert sheet materials into specialized shapes. Unlike die cutting, water jet cutting doesn’t require the use of metal tooling. There are no expensive setup charges either. Because Elasto Proxy can cut multiple sheets at one time, our production operations are quick and efficient. We assemble the layers of a sealing or insulation sandwich with precision, and can apply PSA tapes for peel-and-stick parts

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