Choosing the right industrial press

Industrial presses are used in manufacturing plants to form or assemble products through the application of pressure. This buying guide presents the main types of presses used in industrial environments, their use and the criteria to be taken into account when choosing the most suitable one for your process.
Press brakes, specialized for sheet metal bending, will not be covered in this guide.

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  • How to choose an industrial press?

    DIMECO press

    In order to choose the right type of press, you first need to know if the machine will be used for:

    You will also need to have a fairly accurate idea of the finished dimensions of the workpiece to be formed, and the dimensions of the parts to be handled for punching or riveting, in particular to be able to correctly choose the dimensions of the worktable and the press opening height.

    You will then need to define the tonnage of the machine you require. This will depend on the type of material you will be working with, its thickness and the type of stamping to be performed (for example, the stamping depth or the cutting perimeter). The tonnage of the machine is usually expressed in kilonewtons (kN). There are presses from 5 kN (0.51 metric tons) up to 500,000 kN (50,000 metric tons).

    Production requirements are also important to consider, whether they are unitary or small or large series. For one-off needs or small series, you might be interested in manual, mechanical or hydraulic presses, or even electric presses which also exist in portable models. For mass production, it is essential to know whether you need single striking or a repeated striking. In the latter case, you can consider transfer presses that allow you to carry out consecutive striking in a fully automatic manner.

    All these criteria will allow you to choose the most suitable technology for your installation, whether it be hydraulic, mechanical or pneumatic.

    Selection criteria for choosing a press:

    • function
    • size of the parts
    • tonnage
    • production rate
  • When should you choose a mechanical press?

    EMG mechanical press

    There are different types of mechanical presses. The simplest models are shop presses, either rack and pinion or toggle presses, which can be used to carry out small, one-off operations such as punching.

    Mechanical presses offer high production speeds that allow for mass production. On a mechanical press, only a few standard parameters can be set, so the machine is less flexible and versatile than a hydraulic press. Mechanical presses often require an operator to manage the operations related to striking. It is therefore essential to equip this type of machine with suitable safety devices, such as foot switches, light barriers, etc.

    Mechanical presses are generally high-precision machines and strike repetition is guaranteed over time. On the other hand, they only operate on a given course. It is therefore important to check that the opening distance is adapted to the dimensions of the parts before and after manufacture.

    Characteristics of mechanical presses:

    • High-speed
    • Mass production
    • High accuracy
    • Repeated striking
    • Limited flexibility
  • When should you choose a hydraulic press?

    DUNKES hydraulic press

    Hydraulic presses can compress all types of materials. They generally have a smaller footprint than mechanical presses of equivalent tonnage. They require a lot of maintenance, but with a well-maintained hydraulic press, breakdowns are rare and relatively easy to repair.

    These machines generally offer lower production speeds than mechanical presses, and are more suitable for small-volume production. They are particularly suitable for deep drawing but can also be used in other applications. Hydraulic presses offer great flexibility thanks to their length of stroke as well as their variable and customizable pressure.

    They generally make less noise than mechanical presses of equivalent tonnage.

    Repeatability is lower with a hydraulic press than with a mechanical press. However, hydraulic presses allow the full power of the press to be used throughout the manufacturing process. This means you can choose a press with a tonnage really adapted to your needs, without having to oversize it to benefit from sufficient force at the beginning of the operation.

    It is easy to vary the operating speed of a hydraulic press. This is especially advantageous if you need to reduce the speed to work on the workpiece to be pressed. Hydraulic presses also allow the pressure exerted by the tool to be controlled and are equipped against pressure overload.

    Characteristics of hydraulic presses:

    • high flexibility
    • compression of all materials
    • small-volume production
    • deep drawing
    • significant maintenance
  • When should you use a pneumatic press?

    SOMAUT pneumatic press

    Pneumatic presses can operate at high speeds. They are also very versatile and easy to use. They are generally used for operations requiring low tonnage, for small-scale production. For example, they are widely used in laboratories and workshops.

    Pneumatic presses are particularly suitable for marking, swaging and riveting. They are generally cheaper than mechanical or hydraulic presses, but they must be connected to a pneumatic circuit that delivers sufficient pressure and flow.

  • How to calculate the dimensions for a press?

    SCHULER press

    To properly calculate the dimensions for your press, you must define the tonnage you need, the dimensions of the worktable and the press opening height.

    • The tonnage is calculated according to the type of material to be handled and its thickness, as well as the shape and dimensions of the press tool.
    • To define the dimensions of the worktable, it is sufficient to know the maximum dimensions of the parts to be handled.
    • To choose the opening height of your press, you will have to base your choice on the stamping depth and the height required to clear the workpiece.

    Working speed is also an important factor to be taken into account, especially for serial production.

  • What are the other selection criteria for a press?

    KNUTH C-frame press

    KNUTH C-frame press

    One of the criteria that comes into play when choosing an industrial press is the structure of the machine. All presses can be classified according to their frame design: monoblock or C-frame.

    Monoblock presses have superior strength and greater resistance for lateral bending. They are more suitable for high tonnages. Among others, you will find presses with 2 or 4 columns which allow you to limit deformations to the frame. The more columns there are, the more robust the machine is and the greater its precision.

    Conversely, presses designed with a C-frame exploit smaller tonnages but have the advantage of taking up less space. C-frame presses make it easier to handle the workpiece, since the space in front of the press, as well as on the sides, is free. However, they usually require an operator to load and unload the part.

    You may be interested in toggle presses if the operations to be carried out only require the full force of the press at the end of the operation, for example to punch or rivet a workpiece. These presses are easily adjustable and they allow tools to be changed quickly while limiting the effort exerted by the operator.

    You will also need to know whether you need a double-action press for deep drawing or whether a single-action press is sufficient for your use. As far as forming is concerned, you will also have to decide whether you need a hot press, which will then be equipped with heating plates, or whether you can use a cold press.

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