Choosing Between Stepper and Vibratory Feeders

When companies are looking at upgrading their manufacturing processes with automated feeders, generally, there are two types of feeders that are given preference – step feeders and vibratory feeders. Each feeder is designed to offer a unique set of benefits to the user and application. Understanding the Two Feeder Types Let us take a look at the feeders, their basic designs and operations.

  • Vibratory Feeders: Vibratory bowl feeders are used to sort, orient, and feed parts onto a manufacturing line. The feeder bowl consists of a spiral track, which orients and moves quality parts to a conveyor belt. Generally, parts are fed through the feeder with the help of an electromagnetic drive.
  • Step Feeders : Also known as stepper feeders, these are generally used to orient and feed parts such as fasteners or bushings. The name is derived from an air actuated step system, which helps prevent the parts from getting scratched or damaged during the feeding process.

Three Features of Stepper Feeders and Vibratory Bowl Feeders The best way to choose an optimum feeder for your application is to analyze the various features of both feeders. As both products have a number of beneficial characteristics, we are focusing on three primary features: Setup:

  • Step feeders by design are a customized solution. The primary reason is that the feeder utilizes a variable frequency drive for the step function. The customer can have the step cycle timed down the second, ensuring that the feeder meets his production cycle requirements.
  • Vibratory bowl feeders utilize gravity and vibrations to perform orienting and feeding processes. Sometimes, the use of gravity leads to parts being thrown or dropped onto the bowl tracks. This may require tweaking at times to ensure that the bowl feeder will meet the application’s requirements.

Part Integrity:

    • Vibratory feeder tracks can be designed with specific materials that can ensure parts integrity. Most vibratory feeders are constructed from stainless steel to meet sterility and durability standards. For parts that can get scratched easily, a rubber or some other soft material can be coated onto the track surface.
    • Due to the air system, the step feeder provides smooth motion without requiring the parts to be dropped or thrown. Thus, the integrity of the parts is always maintained.

Noise Levels:

      • This is one disadvantage with the vibratory feeder. Duet to the metal tracks, and complete steel design, the movement of the parts can lead to a noisy operation. However, this can be adjusted by installing a sound enclosure around the feeder bowl.
      • Due to the step operation and the air system, stepper feeders are known for their quiet functioning. Stepper feeders can also consist of elevators with rubber belts. These features can further enhance the feeder’s noiseless operation.

The above mentioned points are among the three primary features that customer usually look at when purchasing an electric feeder. Understanding these and other points can help you decide which feeding system will provide the most benefits to your application.

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