Sheet handling in the small shop
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    Default Sheet handling in the small shop

    More of my work is moving toward sheet metal goods and I'm struggling with efficient ways to handle the raw materials. I have a forktruck, and I'm pretty good with rigging.

    I think that a good magnet for gripping the center and one of those gripper things for the edges are the basic tools, but does anyone have other tricks they use to make this easier for 1 man?

    Thanks, Cole

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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    gripper things are plate dogs? If so use two with two chains on your crane, less dimple when laying plates down. Three angle dogs (to pick up horizontal plate, keep it horizontal during moving) are nice. The three keep plate from drooping, also so much faster in picks not worth cowboying with two. Magnets are nice on thicker stuff. If you have space, keep stock horizontal in storage. Vertical (on edge) storage looks nice, takes up super small footprint, but is pita for flow.

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    Sheet metal wants vacuum pads hung from forklift or crane.
    Something like this but not as long:
    ANVER HYDRAULIC CRANE ROTATOR SHEET METAL GRAPPLE LIFT PE1 VAC-Pack | eBay

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    GE put an automated sheetmetal handling system in the 1970's for the enclosure area. It was all vacuum cups with a ceiling mounted crane system. Worked great.

    Tom

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    What are the dimensions of said sheets ?

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    A magnet will not work well with any guage sheet material especially on a forklift bouncing around, but good with plate steel. The thinner sheets flex too much and pop off the magnets. I am working on moving into a bigger facility in the next two years with an overhead crane, and a rack similar to the one pictured for plate and sheet storage. As far as in a little shop though with just me, I was never able to find many good ways to solve the issues with sheet goods storage. They usually just stay on the pallets after delivery out in the yard. Then I move the pallet with the forklift to where I need the sheet and slide it off as needed.
    steel-rack.jpg

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    Magnets can work if you get many on a frame for large sheet metal. But they may want to lift more than one sheet. Vacuum cups on a frame work really well but lifting sheets from a stack requires a pause just as the sheet gets air. Another sheet may come with it and break free just as the lift gets up a bit. Happens flat or in an angle rack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    More of my work is moving toward sheet metal goods and I'm struggling with efficient ways to handle the raw materials. I have a forktruck, and I'm pretty good with rigging.

    I think that a good magnet for gripping the center and one of those gripper things for the edges are the basic tools, but does anyone have other tricks they use to make this easier for 1 man?

    Thanks, Cole

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
    Sheet metal is a generic term. HRPO? Stainless? Finished sheets with film applied?
    Or stock thicker than 10 gauge? How it needs to be handled makes a difference. I feed up to 4x10 sheets to my laser and all are lifted from a steep angle storage cart. I made my own vacuum lifter and it tilts. Some low use stock is in a slide in vertical rack. I grab a sheet with vise grips and slide out onto a half "A" frame cart. Hit the lever and is balanced so sheet can flip to flat if I want. Or tilt vac lifter to grab it. It does flip flat at correct height for the shear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scruffy887 View Post
    I made my own vacuum lifter and it tilts.

    Did you build this to be automated with a pump, or just a simple rack with some manual lifting cups? I got a crate of cups at an auction a few years ago that went to a large powered overhead glass moving setup, but have not had the time to start figuring out how best to build it out with a vacuum pump.

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    I use 4+4 vac pods that are 4x220 pounds and 4x800 pounds total vac pull. Most lifting is 4x10 sheets but frame is adjusted out to grab 4x8 or 4x10 sheets.
    All pods are compressed air powered with an internal vacuum generator. Each pod consumes .4 cfm.
    This lifter frame works excellent loading a saw in another building and I built 2 of them. For this application I really need to design it again. Current config has the operator at the long side of a sheet. Works well with saw, not so well with laser. Needs to switch sides. Operator needs to work from short end of sheet. Compressed for space.

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    Do they work off of a simple ball valve on off? I am assuming that the pneumatic powered vac pump needs a constant flow of air to pull vacuum, or does it reach a holding point and lock up the vacuumed cups? Sounds much simpler than what I am trying to plan out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scruffy887 View Post
    I use 4+4 vac pods that are 4x220 pounds and 4x800 pounds total vac pull. Most lifting is 4x10 sheets but frame is adjusted out to grab 4x8 or 4x10 sheets.
    All pods are compressed air powered with an internal vacuum generator. Each pod consumes .4 cfm.
    This lifter frame works excellent loading a saw in another building and I built 2 of them. For this application I really need to design it again. Current config has the operator at the long side of a sheet. Works well with saw, not so well with laser. Needs to switch sides. Operator needs to work from short end of sheet. Compressed for space.
    Like these? VacuClamp Vacuum Pods | Vacuum Pressing Systems

    If so, I feel like that's a hell of a bargain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johfoster View Post
    Do they work off of a simple ball valve on off? I am assuming that the pneumatic powered vac pump needs a constant flow of air to pull vacuum, or does it reach a holding point and lock up the vacuumed cups? Sounds much simpler than what I am trying to plan out.
    Each pod has its own vacuum generator and all are connected to a single valve. It does consume air continuously. This is important as ALL vacuum cups leak, more so with age. Other thing is that they release almost instantly when the air is shut off. It would be a major PITA to have plain suction cups as the lifter. How would you release the sheet? I will be redesigning the lifter soon. May or may not be able to use some of the existing parts.
    Last week I transferred 30 sheets of 4x10 ss 304 16 gauge to my rolling vertical rack. I used the vac lifter to pick them up from flat and load the cart. Lift, pause and wait for 1 or 2 other sheets sucked to top sheet to drop. On transfer was oddly heavy as it was tilted to move over to the rack. 2 sheets sucked together and the second sheet stayed for the trip. That was not a good thing. the sheets are at an angle and if the second sheet let go it could come down on my foot like a guillotine. I do keep my feet away from that path, but don't want the experience of a sheet drop.

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    Vac lifter lifting from cart. That cart can easily hold 60 sheets of 4x10 by 16 gauge, and more.
    20191116_180312.jpg
    Total PITA but working for now. Next few months the lifter will be done over to work from the end. Pivot point will also go closer to COG to make tilting easier.

    Lowering flat onto laser.
    20191117_105549.jpg

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