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Suction Cup Lifters: How They Work And How To Choose The Right One For Insulated Metal Panels


By Wood's Powr-Grip

Suction cups are versatile tools that can be used to lift, move, and hold a variety of materials. They work by creating a vacuum between the cup and load's surface. The much higher pressure of the atmosphere then pushes down on the cup with incredible force, creating a solid yet conveniently temporary connection.

Suction cup lifters are available in a variety of sizes, capacities, and surface applications. The type of lifter you need will depend on the weight of the material being lifted, the surface of the material, and the environment in which you are working.

How To Choose The Right Suction Cup Lifter

Material: The suction cup lifter must be compatible with the material's surface. Standard suction cups are typically used for non-porous materials such as glass and metal. However, porous materials such as wood and concrete will require specialized high-flow vacuum systems. You'll find suction cup lifters designed for a wide range of materials, such as textured finishes, stone, sheet metal, or delicate surfaces like low-e or silk-screened glass. (Insulated metal panel handling is shown in the accompanying photos.) Click here for a standard list of options.

Weight and Size: The suction cup lifter must have the rated capacity to support the full weight of the load. You'll also need to consider the dimensions of the load. For larger loads, utilize lifters featuring additional vacuum pads or pads spread further apart. This setup minimizes overhang and ensures adequate support during lifting.

Environment: The suction cup lifter must be able to withstand the environmental conditions in which you are working. For example, you cannot use a suction cup lifter in a hot environment if it is not designed for high temperatures.

Types Of Suction Cup Lifters

There are three main types of suction cup lifters:

Flip cups: These (example below) are the simplest type of suction cup lifter. They attach to the surface by pulling small levers, which creates a partial vacuum. Flip cups are less reliable than other types of suction cup lifters, as they can pop off and drop a load without any warning. They are typically only used by hobbyists or workers in developing countries.


Pump suction cups: These suction cups (example below) are more reliable than flip cups, and they are typically used by professionals. They have a built-in vacuum pump that creates a strong vacuum, and they feature a red-line low vacuum indicator that shows when the cup needs to be repumped.


Powered suction cup lifters: These suction cups (example below) are the most powerful type of suction cup lifter. They are typically mounted on cranes, hoists, or forklifts, and they can be used to lift a variety of large and heavy objects.


Pro Tips For Using Suction Cup Lifters

Clean the surface before use. This will help to create a better seal between the cup and the surface.

Verify approved uses in instructions or online specs. Lifters vary in capabilities for capacity, temperature, elevation, and more.

Do not use suction cups on surfaces that are wet or oily. This will reduce the effectiveness of the vacuum.

Store suction cups in a cool, dry place. This will help to extend their lifespan.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your suction cup lifter will work properly and safely.


Suction cup lifters are versatile tools that can be used for a variety of tasks. By understanding how they work and considering the factors mentioned above, you can choose the right suction cup lifter for your needs.

For information on suction cup lifters for metal panels from Wood's Powr-Grip, click here.

About Wood's Powr-Grip

Woods_PowrGrip_logoWood's Powr-Grip Inc. designs, manufactures and distributes tools and equipment that improve efficiency, enhance safety, and lower costs for the industries that it serves. The company offers a full line of hand-held vacuum cups, below-the-hook vacuum lifters and vacuum mounting cups that make material handling and equipment mounting easier. The products are used to lift, hold and position a variety of smooth, nonporous materials such as insulated metal panels, glass, plastics, engine valves, sheet metal, solid surfacing, laminates, stone slabs and appliances. Powr-Grip products are individually tested before being shipped from the production facility, in order to ensure quality and promote safety for the user.

Wood's Powr-Grip's headquarters are located in Laurel, MT, and its vacuum cups and equipment products are distributed internationally in nearly 50 countries through an extensive network of dealers and distributors. For more information, visit

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