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Small High Vacuum/Low volume Pumps:

One type of commonly used vacuum system involves the use of high vacuum, low volume pumps. These pumps are typically used for laboratory work, or small specific jobs where the demand is for very high holding power, at a low volume of air. Some of these pumps are capable of creating extremely high vacuum getting close to the theoretical upper limit of 29" of mercury (this compares to the low vacuum, high CFM units covered elsewhere on the Wiki).

The trade off here is that the amount of air moved by these smaller units is usually in the 1-5 CFM range so there is very little room for any type of leakage, or warped material. This means that the smaller pumps will probably NOT be the best choice for people whose primary application is cutting large, sheet goods. Those applications would be better served by higher CFM units.

Some of the advantages of this type of vacuum system are;

  • Cost- many owners find pumps such as these on Ebay, or sources such as the "Surplus Center", and their costs are typically from $50-150 per unit.
  • Adaptability- through the use of various vacuum hoses and "vacuum pods/pucks" it is possible to place these units anywhere on a table without having to modify the entire table as someone switches from job to job.
  • Portability- if someone has more than one machine these pumps can easily be adapted to move from one to the other simply by picking them up, and placing them on ,or under the other machine.

In the photos below you see two similar units. The first is a 1 HP "Gast"(manufacturer name) pump along with a variety of homemade "pods/pucks" which can be placed around a table as needed.


The second picture shows a complete vacuum "system"which incorporates a surge tank to "hold vacuum" in the event a part is bowed or warped. This system also uses a "vacuum switch"which can "read"the amount of vacuum being held on the part. This switch can be preset by the user to specific levels of vacuum. If some leakage occurs during the cutting process the switch will sense that loss and turn the pump on until the level of vacuum is at the original setting. A system such as this can be made from simple plumbing fittings purchased at most hardware chains. ( See discussion "How much do these pumps cost?" below for a detailed list...)


Can I use a small high vacuum/low volume pump like this for everything?

Are plans available for a setup like that?

How much do these pumps cost? Where can I get a pump and the other necessary supplies?

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