Inflatable clamps provide uniformed controlled pressure to firmly bond or laminate pieces together. They can also hold pieces in place during machining/cutting operations. Unlike standard piston-style clamps, an inflatable clamp gives you more design flexibility and allows for:
- A consistent, uniformed pressure along the entire inflatable bladder surface.
- Better control of force. An inflatable clamp's operating pressure and gap (the distance between the bladder and clamping piece) can be varied to optimize force.
- Generation of large amounts of force. In some instances, over 100,000 lbs-force can be generated using one inflatable bladder.
- Soft clamping. If the work piece is delicate, an inflatable clamp can be used to prevent potential deformation or to give you the flexibility to vary the pressure applied to the item.
- Conformal clamping. If the part is not perfectly flat or round, an inflatable clamp can compensate for these designs, yet still provide uniformed pressure.
For a more comprehensive understanding of how this inflatable clamping technology works along with step-by-step instructions on how to design using inflatable clamps, please visit Machine Design's most recent article using the following link or download the full article in PDF format.
Machine Design Web-Link: Get a Gentle Grip
PDF Download: Get a Gentle Grip
Some typical applications for an inflatable clamp include:
Airframe Component Bonding - Inflatable clamps, in series, are used to bond the skin of an aircraft wing together. Force generation and the ability to vary pressure are two key attributes used in this application.
Conveyor Brakes or Stops - Inflatable clamps are used to stop product as it travels along a conveyor and can be placed under the conveyor belt itself to stop the entire line. Our standardized Pneuma-Cel® line of inflatable bladder clamps are a particularly good choice here.
Quick Clamps for Semiconductor Filtering Equipment - Inflatable clamps are used both as seal and clamp to hold filters in place. If the filters need to be changed, the inflatable clamps are deflated. the filters replaced, and the machine is back on-line within seconds.
An expanding inflatable actuator may be used together with a more traditional seal or clamp. In a typical application, the actuator pushes a seal made of a harder material (e.g. PTFE) which then seals against a rotating piece of equipment. During shutdown, the air is removed from the inflatable actuator, making changeout of the entire system much easier. Also, much like inflatable seals and clamps, an inflatable actuator will account for sealing gap variation which is critical on larger equipment.
Inflatable actuators have also been used to push trays holding medical tools against a mating compression seal during delicate cleaning operations. This ensures a quick and effective seal every time.