Suction cups are common pieces of equipment in the glazing industry - but what exactly is a suction cup? And can they stick to other materials or just glass?

Well, suction cups are versatile tools that can be used to lift a variety of materials - and can stick to more than just class. Read on to find out why.

 

A Suction Cup

A suction cup in the glazing industry is a cup that is used to lift large, heavy and therefore awkward to carry panels or sheets of glass.

Sometimes referred to as a suction lifter, vacuum lifter, glass lifter, glass suction pad or glass suction tool, these handy and clever devices are a must-have in any glaziers tool kit as they are essential for manoeuvring glass and fitting glass panels into window frames.

 

How A Suction Cup Works

Suction cups work when being manually pushed onto a surface, it then pushes the negative air out causing it to adhere to the glass surface and create a secure vacuum between the cup and glass.

The vacuum will only be secure for only a certain amount of time before the device begins to lose some pressure and therefore lose some of that safe and secure suction grip.

Depending what suction cup device you have will depend on the level of suction and the weight it can support along with how long the safe suction will last.

You can explore more about suction cups’ lifting capacities in our recent blog post about the strongest vacuum suction cups that we stock at GGR Glass.

 

Suction Pressure

Since atmospheric air pressure will always try to equalise itself, when a vacuum is formed and the air is forced out, air will naturally fill in any missing gaps.

Pressure is pushed against the air outside of the suction cup and forces itself against the flat piece of glass. If air can work under the edge of the suction cup, the seal will break and the suction cup will lose its suction.

 

What Are Glass Suction Cups Made From?

Glass suction cups are made from high-quality, strong, flexible rubber. The flexibility allows for them to be pushed onto the hard surface of the glass with ease and the strongness of the rubber allows for a stable, strong and most importantly safe suction to the glass.

Depending on the suction cup device, some have specially designed levers or handles to help aid the suction in order to help create that stronghold.

 

Manual or Machine Operated

Glass suction cups are often hand operated but you can get larger scale suction cups that are operated by a hoist, machinery and cranes. Hoist, crane and machine-operated suction cups are particularly useful for commercial jobs and lifting very large and heavy sheets of material.

 

What Glass Suction Cups Can Stick To

Suction lifters do not only work on glass, they actually work on many other materials too and can be used to lift a variety of different materials and objects.

They are such a handy and practical tool and therefore are not only used by glaziers in the glazing industry, but by many other types of workers too.

Every tool kit will benefit from having some kind of vacuum lifting cup in there, whether it is small or large, they definitely come in handy in a number of ways.

Glass lifting cups are good for carrying other large and awkward panels of material such as kitchen countertops, and large floor tiles - using a suction lifter for these things, in particular, is so beneficial as they are very prone to breaking under pressure and when handled incorrectly.

The slightest knock when manoeuvring or lifting into place when fitting can cause these items to crack, extra special care must be taken when handling these items and a suction cup's job is to make handling materials and objects a lot easier and safer.

Suction cups also can lift large materials with smooth surfaces such as glass, hard plastic, acrylic, marble, stainless steel and other metals, as well as being fixed to household objects that may be heavy and awkward to carry such as large mirrors, heavy furniture and large appliances such as fridges, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers to name a few.

 

Why Can Glass Suction Cups Stick To Other Materials?

Glass suction cups can stick to the surfaces of other materials as they work by suctioning onto smooth surfaces best, pushing air out and creating pressure and a secure suction and seal - so as long as the surface is smooth, it is probably safe to use a glass suction cup to move it.

Smooth-surfaced materials and items allow for no air to escape around the seal of each suction cup, which is essential for the safety of any lift and manoeuvre - particularly when manoeuvering large heavy items, which can always be dangerous and a hazard of causing injury if dropped or if handled incorrectly.

This is why any smooth material can be lifted using a glass suction cup, as long as the material or object has a non-porous smooth surface like tiles, glass, metals, etc.

Another way to ensure a secure bond is formed between the suction cup and the material is to make sure surfaces are clean and dirt free before attaching the suction cup, this includes any oils or soaps too, so if you clean the surface before lifting make sure you dry or let the surface air dry before attempting to lift.

 

Can Suction Cups Stick To Rough Surfaces?

Whilst suction cups are designed to work on smooth surfaces only, as this is the only way to achieve a lasting bond of suction to whatever you are moving, meaning that any surfaces that are textured or curved are a no-go, such as textured wood or car dashboards.

Rougher textured surfaces are not meant or ideal for suction pads, even if you manage to create a suction to a slightly uneven or textured surface, it is unclear how long it will last, so you must take great care.

To combat this problem certain glass lifters are now designed specifically to lift and tolerate uneven and rough surfaces, they are specially designed to mould around the lumps and bumps of any surface - this is always dependent on the model however so make sure you purchase the right vacuum lifter for the job in hand.