SmartVac II Vacuum System Header

The SmartVac II Vacuum Workholding System

When you absolutely can’t hold parts in a vise, the SmartVac II Workholding System provides a simple and streamlined solution with vacuum chuck workholding. The system does NOT require an expensive and cumbersome electric vacuum pump. The system also uses customizable Top Plates to easily create custom fixtures for small or irregular parts. No pump, no hassles, no brainer.


  1. Filter free exhaust port means coolant and small particles pass right through the system
  2. Anodized and laser engraved finish
  3. Vacuum indicator button lowers flush when at full vacuum power
  4. 1/8” NPT inlets
  5. Vacuum inlet (1/8” NPT)
  6. Multiple vacuum ports enable up to nine parts to be held on one chuck
  7. Anodized for corrosion resistance
  8. Top plate mounting holes for custom workholding applications
  9. Side step for all-around clamping

SmartVac II Features

Vacuum Chuck starter packages

We like to keep things simple. That’s why we’ve packaged the SmartVac II System in a Starter Package which includes EVERYTHING needed to take the first step into vacuum workholding. All five system sizes carry a discounted price so you know it’s a smart buy.

SmartVac II Starter Package Includes:
SmartVac II Base, Vacuum Control Unit, Connection Kit, Vacuum Gasket (50′), Clamping Hardware, and SmartVac II Manual

Starter Package with 9.5″ x 14″ Base
SV2-Starter-914 – $1195.00

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Starter Package with 13.5″ x 13.5″ Base
SV2-Starter-1313 – $1395.00

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Starter Package with 13.5″ x 20″ Base
SV2-Starter-1320 – $1695.00

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Starter Package with 13.5″ x 30″ Base
SV2-Starter-1330 – $2195.00

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Starter Package with 18″ x 24″ Base
SV2-Starter-1824 – $2250.00

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Vacuum Chuck bases

The SmartVac II Vacuum Chuck Base is machined and ground flat and parallel to an accuracy of ±0.0025″ across the entire surface. All Bases are .950″ thick and are designed to accept our Top Plates and locate them with a repeatability of 0.001″. This opens up a world of custom fixturing to hold multiple parts or unique shapes not readily held by a grid pattern.

Vacuum Tables

  1. Vacuum inlet (NPT)
  2. Side steps for all-around clamping.
  3. Threaded holes for mounting Top Plates for custom workholding.
  4. The 1313 Model includes a unique groove for 12″ square workpieces.
  5. Multiple vacuum inlets enable up to nine part positions per chuck.
  6. Includes Toe Clamps, Bolts and Precision Shoulder Screws used to align and secure Top Plates.

Top Ten Tips for Gasket

Vacuum Power Unit

The Vacuum Power Unit (VPU) is the heart of the system. The vacuum is generated, turned on and off and monitored from this single unit. Compressed air enters at 85 PSI which is converted to 28″ Hg (14 PSI) of vacuum power – equal or better than traditional vacuum pumps and without the need for filters or coolant traps. The VPU is a low flow, high level pump that is intended to work with non-porous work pieces. Best of all, it only consumes 0.8 CFM of air (1 CFM max vacuum flow) which is about the same as blowing on a hot cup of coffee.

SmartVac II VPU

  1. Anodized and laser engraved finish.
  2. 1/8″ NPT inlets.
  3. Vacuum indicator – Flush with the top shows the system at full vacuum level.
  4. System exhaust – Swarf and coolant simply pass through the unit.

SV2-VPU – $495

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Vacuum Power Unit Front

Vacuum Chuck Accessories

Top Plates

  1. By using specialized locating bolts, the Top Plates are aligned and secured to the SmartVac II Base with a repeatability of 0.001″.
  2. Aluminum plate is ground flat to within 0.002″ with a smooth surface of 18 RMS.
  3. The bottom side of the Top Plates are strategically pocketed to pick up the vacuum source wherever you drill through.
Top Plate Overview

Top Plate Flagged

Use a Top Plate to customize a fixture to your part’s exact size and shape. Simply machine a 0.118″ slot 0.100″ deep just inside the edge of your part profile and tuck the 1/8″ gasket cord in the groove. Drill a through hole to allow the vacuum to flow inside the perimeter of the gasket area.

Connection Kit

  • Air Line (15′)
  • Quick Disconnect
  • Wye Fitting
  • NPT Fittings (7)
  • Regulator with magnetic mount

Setting up your system is quick and easy with this Connection Kit. We packaged everything you’ll need to have your vacuum chuck set up and running within minutes of opening the box. Highly recommended when purchasing the Vacuum Power Unit above.

SV2-Connection – $65.00

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SmartVac II Connection Kit

Vacuum Gasket

  • Smooth surface with closed cell construction conforms to uneven parts and textures
  • Chemical resistant
  • Coolant compatible
  • Gasket compresses when placed in an appropriately sized gasket groove (see FAQ #5 below for more details).
Vacuum Gasket Overview

25′ Roll – $24.00

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50′ Roll – $44.00

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SmartVac II Gasket

Not all gasket material is the same!Use this premium gasket cord with the entire SmartVac II product line.This vacuum gasket cord is specifically designed to be use for vacuum workholding applications and is formulated to be oil and coolant compatible.It is soft and easily compresses into grooves unlike O-rings.

Slotting Endmill

  • 3 Flute Solid Carbide
  • 0.118″ Cutting Diameter
  • Chamfer topping
  • 0.1875″ Shank

Our custom made endmill is used to cut perfect slots for our 1/8″ diameter vacuum gasket (0.100″ deep) while simultaneously cutting a chamfer at the top of the groove for best performance. The smaller 0.118″ diameter slot width puts just enough compression on the gasket to hold it snugly in place when blowing off the top of your fixture.

SV2-Endmill – $34.00

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Twin Base Kit

  • Double Sided Clamps
  • 1/2-13 Bolts
  • One T-Fitting

Whenever operating multiple Bases from one VPU, use the set of double sided toe clamps in this kit to mount the Bases with only a 3/4″ gap between. The T-fitting is used to daisy-chain the air line to both Bases.

SV2-Twin – $35.00

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Two Vacuum Chucks

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Smart Vac II Overview

Overview: SmartVac II Vacuum System

Top Plate Overview

Overview: Top Plates

Vacuum Gasket Overview

Overview: Vacuum Gasket

Top Ten Tips for Gasket

Top 10 Vacuum Workholding Tips

How To: Making a 1 off part with the Vacuum Pallet

Designing a custom Top Plate

Vacuum Workholding for Smaller Parts

Vacuum Workholding for Small Parts

Vacuum Workholding: Making Nested Parts

Top Plate Troublshooting

Troubleshooting a Customer's Top Plate

Vacuum Chuck Quick Shot 1

Vacuum Chuck Quick Shot 1

Quick Shot 2

Vacuum Chuck Quick Shot 2

VPU Cleaning

Easily Clean the Vacuum Control Unit

SmartVac II Applications

SmartVac Base on a Trunnion

Our customer used a customizable Top Plate to pocket the second operation of their part.They were also able to rotate the part 90 degrees to drill and tap a row of holes on the edge of the part.

Multiple SmartVac Bases

This customer was able to hold large parta using four of our chucks.Two 1320's and two 1313 sizes. Plus, they customized Top Plates for fast changeovers for different part numbers. One VPU powered them all.

First and Second Operations

These copper parts were machined on the left side from the raw piece to create the profile on the right. Then the part outline was machined into the Top Plate as a shallow pocket for Op 2 on the right.


Printables: SmartVac II Flyer
SmartVac II Manual

Models: Models available after purchase. Please email us and mention your order number (W-xxxx) at

Vacuum Workholding Tips

  1. Vacuum Power has an Upper Limit – The absolute maximum vacuum power any vacuum pump can achieve on Earth is 14.9 pounds per square inch at sea level.  This is because the weight of air around us is what actually pushes the part down onto the chuck.
  2. Vacuum Workholding is Often a Secondary Choice – Yes, vises and clamps are the preferred method of holding a workpiece due to theoretically unlimited clamping force, however thin parts aren't easily held with a vise.  A vacuum chuck may be your only choice, but don’t expect to be able to machine a part as aggressively as when using a vise.  For example, a 3" square workpiece will only be held with 126 lbs of downward force and a 10" square workpiece is held with 1,400 lbs.
  3. Use Common Sense – Holding a part that is 1 inch square and 4 inches tall is not going to work. Short and wide parts that absolutely cannot be held with a vise are the best candidates for vacuum workholding.
  4. Use Workstops Whenever Possible – Side loads are the enemy of vacuum applications! Though vertical holding force may be high, cutting forces can shift a part sideways, especially when machining plastics with a low friction ratings (nylon, teflon, delrin).  Adding pins, side rails or best practice of cutting a shallow pocket in one of our customizable Top Plates for the part to sit in will maximize sideways rigidity.
  5. Use Small Cutters when Possible (if you’re not following tip #4) – Small cutters exert less torque, reducing side forces thereby reducing the chance of sliding a part off the chuck.  Instead of taking a 1/2″ wide cut around a part, use an 1/8″ cut with four passes.
  6. Use Sharp Cutters – Sharp tooling naturally exerts lower side loads which reduces the chances of a part sliding on a chuck.
  7. Use 45 Degree Helix Endmills – Low helix cutters won't lift a part, but they exert higher side loads.  45 deg cutters split the difference between lifting and sliding forces.
  8. Flexible Workpieces Might be Problematic – Because the rigidity of the workpiece helps maintain a vacuum seal, very thin or very soft materials may be more likely to flex at the edges and peel off the vacuum chuck. Use reverse helix cutters that have a downward cutting action and follow the 3 C's:
  9. The 3 C's of reverse helix cutters – Coolant: Have adequate coolant or air to help with chip evacuation since chips are forced downward.  Clearance: Also consider milling a trough in a Top Plate along the edge of the cut so chips have a place to go. Corners: Outside corners have minimal support so slow down. Inside corners have good part support but more of the tool is engaged in the cut so side loads are higher than normal so slow down here too.


1. How powerful is the vacuum chuck system's holding force?

The US short answer - Multiply a part's surface area in square inches by 14 to find the downward holding force in pounds.
The Metric short answer - Multiply a part's surface area in square mm by .0098 to find the downward holding force in kg.
The long answer - The holding power of any vacuum chuck system is measured by the amount of air it can remove from under a part. You'll see vacuum ratings measured as "Inches of Mercury" or "Hg. A perfect vacuum, like outer space, would equal 29.9" Hg. It takes a lot of energy to create a perfect vacuum on Earth however the SmartVac II vacuum chuck draws a 94% or 28" Hg vacuum using only 0.8 cfm or compressed air! This is equal to 14 psi of downward holding force.
This means a 6" x 6" part will be held with a force of 504 pounds ( x 14psi = 504lbs) or a 150mm x 150mm part will be held with a force of 221 kg ( x .0098 = 220.5 kg).

2. What types of parts can the vacuum chuck hold?

The perfect part has a large surface area and with a small thickness cross section. Materials can range from plastics to metals. Harder materials can increase side loads during cutting which can slide a part off the chuck so lighter feedrates and depths of cut should be observed. One tip to overcome part movement is to sandwich a piece of 400 grit sandpaper between the chuck and the part to increase friction. Take a look at this article that explains this concept in further depth:

3. Compared to other systems, how does the SmartVac II vacuum chuck measure up?

The SmartVac II VCU draws a vacuum equal to or greater than convential vacuum pumps. Plus, the system is low maintenance since it does NOT require particle filters or coolant traps. Other systems require an electrically powered pump where the SmartVac II runs off a small amount of compressed air. The chuck portion of the system has nine vacuum inlets allowing up to nine individual parts to be held simultaneously where other systems only hold one part at a time. Pricewise, the system is far less expensive to purchase AND maintain than traditional systems.

4. I have an odd shaped part with a bunch of holes. How do I hold it?

This is easily done by attaching a Top Plate to the vacuum chuck surface and milling a gasket groove just inside the part's perimeter. Any through holes in the part need to have gaskets around them so the vacuum isn't lost when a cutter breaks through the bottom surface of the part. If the finished part has very thin features (imagine cutting out the letter O), consider leaving .002" to .005" of material at the bottom (the inside of the O) to maintain a larger vacuum area. Depending on the material, you should be able to easily peel out the center section by hand.

5. What dimensions should I use for the gasket groove I machine in a Top Plate?

For all sizes of gasket, the groove width should be 95% of the gasket diameter. The groove depth should be 75% of the gasket diameter. This means our 1/8" gasket should have a width of .118" and a minimum depth of .094". The same formula for a 1/4" gasket comes out to .238" wide and .188" deep. For best results, add at least a .015" chamfer to the top of the groove.

6. My part is larger than the vacuum chuck sizes you offer. Can I still use the vacuum chuck system?

Yes! The SmartVac II is perfectly suited to handle large parts. Multiple bases can be setup adjacent to each other using a Twin Base Kit. This kit contains everything needed to chain multiple bases together and operated by one VCU.

7. Where can I purchase a SmartVac II Vacuum Chuck Workholding System?

All of our products are sold direct. This allows us to keep prices low and to establish a close relationship with our customers to provide the best applicaton advice possible. Click here to order online or give us a call to place an order at (800) 352-2894. We accept all major credit cards and company checks.