For a word that means to create a void, vacuum sure has a lot of applications.

This is why vacuum pumps are used in various industries. They’re essential equipment for production of electronics such as CRT and semiconductors. The food-beverage industry, pharmaceuticals, and other businesses have processes that require this machine.

However, there are as many types of pumps as there are uses for them. With advances in technology, more options become available. How do you choose which industrial vacuum pumps are right for you?

Read on to learn more.

What to Look For in a Vacuum Pump

What will you be using the machine for? This is the first question you ask yourself when choosing a vacuum pump. The application or process will determine what type of vacuum pump you’ll need.

Chemical Compatibility

You’ll want the liquids or gases to play nicely with your vacuum pump. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a broken pump, a contaminated product, or both.

For example, if you’re handling corrosive media, you’d want a pump that is corrosion-resistant. The purchase cost will be higher, but you can guarantee your pump to last longer.

Traditional rotary vane pumps use oil for a tight seal. The oil also serves as lubricant and coolant.

But if the application produces vapors that can react with the oil, it will damage your pump. This is the reason why cold traps or condensers are used in this setup. The condenser will trap the vapors to protect the pump.

Vacuum Level

How much suction does the process need? This is usually expressed in inches of Mercury (inHg) or bar. Vacuum pumps will have different ranges of suctioning power depending on the type.

A laboratory working with filtration will require a modest vacuum. But functions like evaporation and distillation will demand deeper vacuum levels.

Flow Rate

The flow rate or pumping speed is another important consideration. Some operations deal with a lot of volume that needs to be pumped out within a specific time frame. If you’re dealing with time-sensitive volatile compounds, you’ll need faster pumps.

Installation and Maintenance

You should review the specifications of the vacuum pump you’ll purchase. What type of connections does it have and are they appropriate for your application? Does it require specific tubings or hose?

Also, assess the need for ancillary equipment. Those should be compatible with your pump.

As for maintenance, the things to consider are the frequency and level of expertise required. How does the maintenance schedule affect your production? Will your workers be able to handle the maintenance?

Costs

This includes not only the purchasing price but also the operating and maintenance costs. You’ll have to strike the correct balance between the quality and your budget.

Types of Industrial Vacuum Pumps

Let’s take a look at the most common types of industrial pumps. They have different features that make them suited for particular applications.

They all operate under the principle of positive displacement. Think of how a syringe sucks blood. By increasing the volume of the chamber (pulling on the plunger), you generate a partial vacuum.

Rotary Vane

The rotary vane is the simplest and the most common vacuum pump.

Sliding vanes are placed in a rotor that rotates inside a circular housing. The center of the housing and the rotor are offset which creates an eccentricity. As centrifugal forces cause the vanes to extend to the cylindrical wall, spaces with different volumes are created. The volume displacement generates the vacuum effect.

This device has been around since 1874 invented by Charles Barnes of New Brunswick. It is a tried and tested technology that has undergone numerous innovations. New models have lower power demand, quieter, and able to operate at low temperatures.

As previously mentioned, traditional rotary vane pumps use oil for operation. There are now models which are 100% oil-less, dispensing the need for cold traps. This further expands the applications that they can be used for.

A rotary vane is a great introductory pump with a low upfront cost. It is also small and compact which is advantageous in some setups.

They’re capable of deeper vacuum levels making them suitable for freeze-drying processes. They’re also used in packaging, plastics, and other challenging operations.

Diaphragm

Diaphragm pumps use the pulsing action of a diaphragm (rubber, Teflon) to open and close valves on either side of the diaphragm. This motion creates the displacement needed for pump flow.

These are dry pumps and oil isn’t needed for proper function. While they are pricier than conventional rotary vanes, you’ll save money from lower maintenance costs. Cold traps and condensers are also not required.

The valves are also made of corrosion-resistant material. This makes them a good choice for handling chemicals and solvents. They can handle almost any type of sample and are a good choice for evaporation processes.

Piston

A piston pump is a reciprocating pump that uses pistons driven by a motor through a crankshaft. This motion is similar to that used in internal combustion engines.

Piston pumps are generally used as hydraulic pumps. They can provide power to heavy machinery, a good example is the big oil pump. But they can also be used in smaller machines such as insecticide sprayers.

Variations of this pump type make them useful in high-tech industrial applications. Axial pumps have multiple piston pumps in a circular array. These can be modified to produce variable speeds decreasing the torque needed. This translates to higher efficiency, increased productivity, and lower acquisition costs for the motor.

Rotary Screw

The rotary screw or screw pump can be attributed to the Greek scientist Archimedes. The rotating screw action inside a pipe will cause the medium to flow in one direction.

Rotary screw pumps utilize two screws that turn in opposite directions. This produces the compression action for volume flow.

Rotary screws can give you a high-performance level, quiet operation, and low maintenance. They’re also usually equipped with a monitoring system, process controller, and variable speed drives.

Screw pumps can provide high flow rates even for viscous substances. This makes them ideal for fuel transfer and other industrial applications.

Are You Pumped Up?

Knowing what to look for in industrial vacuum pumps should power up your purchasing decision. Study the right qualities of a vacuum pump that your application needs.

If you have more questions, we’re happy to help. Contact us today!