When I first learned about bowl feeders I thought that there was some sort of rotation that would cause it to go up, but apparently it is caused by vibrating the bowl.

I do not understand how vibrations can cause a part to move upwards. From what I understand, vibrations will have a similar effect to reducing friction, which means that it would cause the parts to fall down the slope more easily.

How does it work? Is the vibration applied in a certain direction/rotation/etc. which causes this upward movement? Or is it just normal vibration?

There is an article describing vibratory bowl feeders here, and a YouTube video showing one in operation here.

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like a good question but it's not quite clear. Any pictures/links/diagrams would be helpful. $\endgroup$
    – OnStrike
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ Vibratory Bowl feeders are used to feed components parts into an assembly line, if you have seen any TV program involving production line assembly, they can be seen transferring and aligning components for one line to another. They seem to depend on a spiral track, as a sort of rachet. I think this is an engineeringSE question and would VTC on that basis. $\endgroup$
    – user108787
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CountTo10 "fits to another SE site as well" is not a close reason $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2016 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ @theNamesCross does the video that john edited in make it clearer (it's actually one of the same videos that I watched, that made me curious). They all have similar designs, a convex shape in the middle of the bowl so parts fall to the side, then a curved track all the way up (with some other devices that cause incorrectly alligned parts to fall back down). $\endgroup$
    – Aequitas
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CountTo10 If you read the engineering close reason, it says that asking for the solutions to specific engineering problems is off-topic. Asking for the general physical principle on which a certain device operates is perfectly on-topic here, and this question seems to me to be of that type. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind
    Sep 8, 2016 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


I found this answer at, http://www.changeover.com/vibratorybowlfeeders.html

"Properly tuned, a feeder will vibrate properly but, by itself, vibration will do little more than make the parts bounce around. In order to make the parts move, the vibration must be focused in the desired direction. This is done by mounting the springs on an angle rather than vertically. As the feeder bowl rotates back and forth on its springs the angle causes it to move vertically as well. As it moves forward and up, friction pushes the part forward. As it moves back and down, the part falls vertically. This sawtooth motion can move parts gently at astonishing speeds."


The bowl feeder as well as its linear version based on the hysteresis of the involved spring-magnet device-system. Changing the frequency of the vibrations of the magnetic device you can make that the parts in the feeder will vibrate in standstill or will move backwards. A big difference in the load will do the same. Instead of electromagnets they use piezoelectric devices too, or for really big feeders simply an electro motor with a unbalanced weight on its axis.


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