Piezo Vacuum Pump for Lightweight Pick and Place

If you’re building a pick and place machine, or even just a vacuum pen, you’ll need some way to pick up tiny part. This means something that sucks, aquarium tubing, and everything that goes with that. A few months ago, [Wayne] found an interesting device called a Micro Blower that will blow small amounts of air from a small, lightweight device. A few modifications later, and he had a piezoelectric vacuum pump for picking up tiny parts.

The Micro Blower [Wayne] found is available on Mouser for about $45, but this device blows. To turn it into something that sucks, he would need to find a way to block up the input side of the pump so it could draw a vacuum. Eventually settling on mounting the blower inside a stack of foam board, [Wanye] glued on a 20 gauge needle and was able to suck up 0603 SMD parts.

The new piezoelectric sucker is extremely light, and the power draw is very reasonable: 18V and 20mA. This would be a great device to mount to a certain pick and place machine without having to run vacuum lines through the mechanics of a motion platform. Video below.

20 thoughts on “Piezo Vacuum Pump for Lightweight Pick and Place

  1. Irt’s neat, i guess i don’t see much advantage in this over a tube to a remote pump, they’re not that noisy, the motors on my pnp are way noiser than the pump. I’m also curious how much of that vibration ends up in the part too, and if it’d have any ill effects on mems etc.

  2. Hey! :) We do actually have that exact microblower setup prototyped on our FirePick Delta machine, we just haven’t posted it yet… I give all due credit to Wayne for coming up with the idea. We 3D printed the enclosure for ours, and got circuit boards made, and they work pretty well.

    1. I think the magic part of the microblower is the diaphragm pump, not necessarily the piezo element. Making diaphragm check valves that small that work above 20 khz probably requires some equipment that the average DIYer doesn’t have. However if someone can figure out how to do that easily, I’d be really excited.

          1. Hmm… That does sound more robust than the Murata design.

            An array of piezo air pumps might provide a decent surace area for a finishing pump, and sound transmission could provide an indication of the level of vacuum. It’s intreguing.

      1. Actually it looks like a diaphragm free pump. http://www.murata.com/~/media/webrenewal/products/mechatronics/fluid/feature/feature_img0002.ashx?la=en&h=157&w=338 The basic principle relies on the fact that blowing and sucking is not the same thing. it is not symetrical, one has momentum while the other does not. As only blow has momentum, it is the only one with direction. Suction is omni directional. A simple test… blow through a pipe, the force is still focused a distance from the end of the pipe. Now try that with sucking, suction has no direction.Similar to put put boats the diaphragm simply vibrates. Suck from everywhere and blow in a fixed direction. Repeat it fast enough and you have a pump.

    1. I don’t know about you but your average air compressor is noisy as shit. For Pick and Place, not in a residential home, no sir. Very bad WAF (wife acceptance factor).

      Microblowers are absolutely silent. I’ve had people tell me that they’re not even running. And cheaper than a venturi, compressor, vacuum solenoids, dryer, filter, tubing, etc… And they’re pretty fast considering there’s no volume of air acting as a reservoir.

  3. Cute pump. Ideally one would like to suck and blow. A slight puff would help the releace. How about a standard speaker mounted against a piece of MDF. Then one can produce a positive or negative pressure. The limited total flow volume being the restriction. Simple cheap fast acting and fully variable in pressures.

    1. Problem with that is speakers only work on AC. If you feed one DC, it’ll click, but then the springiness around the diaphragm will return it to “neutral” position. Turning off the DC will then make it click in the other direction. You’d get puffs of suck or blow, but no holding.

      I suppose you could have 2 speakers, each in a box with one-way air valves. One connected up to suck, other to blow. Then you’d drive them with audio frequency AC.

      What about a small motor driving a syringe? They make motorised syringes for medical stuff, but I can only guess they’re horribly expensive.

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