vDock: Docking Station for IBC-Container

The vDock docking station enables the quick connection of IBC containers (IBC: Intermediate Bulk Container) to a vacuum conveying system. The IBC simply needs to be placed on the docking station using a forklift trolley: the integrated VIAS docking valve independently establishes a dust-free connection between the container and the conveyor line.

  • vDock version with one distributor for 4 connected vacuum conveying systems

  • vDock docking station (left) for supplying a 3D printing production cell with fresh powder

  • VIAS valve: the upper half of the coupling threads automatically into the lower half. The hexapod mounting compensates for any inaccurate positioning of the IBC container.

  • VIAS valve with separated coupling pieces

  • VIAS valve with connected coupling pieces

  • Optional distributor, here with 4 connected vacuum conveying systems

The container can also be emptied in partial steps, as the VIAS valve can be closed again at any time - even in the product flow. This means that the IBC container can also be removed from the docking station again after partial emptying and, even in this case, ensure decoupling without powder escaping.

The vDock docking stations are suitable for applications with metal powders in 3D printing or additive manufacturing. Thanks to the ATEX-compliant design, the stations can also be used for other applications. The docking stations are tailored to the customer's IBC (respective design and size).

Options for the vDock stations:

  • Weighing cells for weighing the IBC. The exact discharge of preset partial quantities as well as the exact filling can be managed via the measured value.
  • Operation under inert gas (e.g. N2 or argon) in circulating gas mode, optionally also flushing of the IBC before emptying into the conveying line (depending on the IBC).
  • Distributor for connecting up to 6 conveying lines or vacuum conveying systems. Only the valve to one conveying line is opened at a time by an external release signal.
  • Filling of IBC by vacuum conveying. Optionally, the filling quantity can be controlled by a cone valve or VIAS docking valve. Optional load cells can be used to set the filling of the container to a target weight.

The VIAS docking valve enables clean and dust-free docking, undocking and emptying of the IBC with only minimal powder exposure. When undocked, the IBC and the conveying line are hermetically sealed by the two VIAS couplings. The outside of the VIAS closures are not touched or contaminated by the material. The heaxpod mounting compensates for inaccuracies in the positioning of the IBC, making it very easy for the operator to dock the container.

Each IBC container is equipped with a coupling piece (passive part of the VIAS docking valve).

Features of the VIAS docking valve:

  • all valve surfaces over which the metal powder flows are made of either anodised aluminium (3.2315) or stainless steel (1.4305 or 1.4435), depending on customer requirements
  • No elastomer in the product flow (the seals are located in recesses and are not in contact with the powder)
  • Connection to the IBC container: 4" TC (DIN 32676-C)
  • Compact size: 115 mm height (distance between clamp-clamp, without heaxpod compensator)
  • Complete disassembly possible in 5 minutes
  • End position monitoring and dosing function available
  • Operating pressure: 5-7 bar
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