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What are Bowl Feeders?

9/30/2013 12:43:16 PM | by Anonymous

Bowl Feeders

Bowl feeders are common equipment used to feed smaller individual parts for assembly purposes mostly on production lines. A randomly sorted package of small parts is fed in to the machine piece by piece in a certain direction.


Bowl feeders are heavily reliant on the pieces of mechanical parts. This means that when the smaller components are shaken gently by the machine down the conveyor chute, the smaller parts will eventually all be aligned to fit the parts. The parts have to be fed slowly one by one until all the parts are where they supposed to be. The conveyor chute is then lead directly to the following packing machine or assembly.


The orientation or direction depends on its mechanical behavior, particularly factors such as its center of mass with regards to its center of volume. This means bowl feeders work more effectively with small parts such as objects with rotational symmetry, e.g. screws. The ramps in a bowl feeder are usually designed for a specific part. However, the core mechanism is re-used for other parts as well.


The exit of the bowl feeder depends on the part’s mass distribution and its shape. In this case, the orientation is not exactly need for the next step in the assembly process. If the part needs to be turned over then a twisted conveyor does the job.


How does a bowl feeder work and what role does it play?


Bowl feeders consist of a bowl that is shape specially to alter the orientation of the parts to the desired orientation. They are self contained devices. A variable amplitude box controls the feeder and on top of it, a vibrating drive unit is mounted. An out feed accumulation track, either gravity or linear, moves the parts along a conveyor and releases the parts into the machine that assembles them. The drive unit can come in either pneumatic electromagnetic drives that gently vibrate or shake the bowl. This forces the parts to move up an inclined circular track. Another component of bowl feeders is the tooling, which orients and sorts the smaller parts into a repeatable and consistent position.


The width, depth and length of the tracks in the bowl have to be cautiously selected depending on its application, size and component shape. If needed, the track of the bowl can be coated with various materials that can aid with reducing damage to the product, traction and also a reduction in noise. The control box is used to control and limit the intensity of the vibration and also the flow of the smaller parts.

Bowl feeders are used by many industries such as packaging automotive, food, pharmaceutical, electronic and metal working. Other industries include plastics, construction, glass, steel paper and pulp and foundry. Bowl feeders are good in a sense that they are not more cost efficient as manual labor is reduced, but also using such equipment saves a lot of time, increasing the efficiency of the company. Things to consider when choosing an appropriate feeder include the type of industry the company is in, material properties, application and the volume of the product.


Types of bowls and feeders


There are 4 main types of bowls. They are: cylindrical bowl, which could be made of aluminum, stainless steel or normal steel. Cylindrical bowls are used to transport parts in a continuous manner and designed for smaller parts. There is also conical bowls which can be made out of aluminum or steel and are designed for heavy sharp-edged parts that come in larger loads. Another alternative for larger loads and larger components would be the stepped bowl. The last type would be a polyamide bowl which is designed for parts with simple geometry.


There are also four types of feeders, which are: the bowl feeders, rotary or centrifugal feeders, step feeders and linear feeders. Bowl feeders have a bowl with a circle track inside the bowl. The vibrating unit then vibrates and sends the parts up to the top until it is positioned correctly. Centrifugal or rotary feeders have a rotor that is conical driven and it is surrounded by a circular wall. The feeder uses rotary force to spin the parts and this causes them to be pushed outside of the bowl. The next type would be step feeders were the component parts are sorted and fed on to the steps until it reaches the desired height for transfer. Advantages of using a step feeder are that there is no vibration and noise. The last type would be linear feeders whereby the component parts are conveyed horizontally and they are mainly used to take care of supplies that are irregular from upstream equipment. These help a smooth flow and create a buffer store.


Although not many people know what a bowl feeder is, it definitely plays an important part in the production line or process.

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