Workpiece support aids
Partly the workpiece support is termed as positioning aid as well, as it´s facilitating the positioning of the workpiece at the stop. As positioning aids describe devices for dimensionally accurate positioning of suction blocks, this term is no longer applicable.
The most console tables until the end of the 90´s were structured in such a way, that the vacuum cups were arranged between two plastic rails. The workpiece could be slid conveniently on the machine table over the plastic rails.
With the rise of the double circular vacuum system by Schmalz towards the end of the 90´s with freely positionable and thus free-standing vacuum cups, the situation has changed. Machine manufacturer, which have developed own vacuum systems, offered tables with suction blocks which stood freely in space. Thus the fixed rails were omitted, which the workpiece could be simply slid over on the table.
If a heavy, cumbersome workpiece needed to be laid on a table with freely positionable vacuum cups, it would either need to be lifted to the stop and then lowered again, or need to be slid over the suction cup on the table. Having a cumbersome, heavy workpiece up to the stop is barely to execute with merely one person. Sliding over the suction cup, the suction cup is risking tilting over out of their position. In the worst case, the surface of the suction cup can be damaged.
Hence all modern machines come with pod and trail table systems which ought to facilitate laying them on the workpiece. Usually it´s the extractable rails on which one can easily slide the workpiece scarcely over the suction surface. If the stop position has been reached, the rails will be pneumatically lowered and the workpiece will be freely positioned.
In rare cases, the rails are equipped with balls or even air cushions for handling especially heavy workpieces.