If you’re looking into industrial machinery, then you’ve undoubtedly come across the hydraulic press.

But how does a hydraulic press work?

And what are they used for?

If you want to dig into the meat of the matter then you’re in the right place. Read on and we’ll explain how they work and what they’re used for.

What is a Hydraulic Press?

A hydraulic press is a piece of machinery that uses a hydraulic system to create large amounts of pressure. As a general rule, they’re more space-efficient than mechanical presses which use a different system to press down on materials.

There are a ton of different varieties of them.

An automotive body shop may use a large, four-column model for moving sheet metal into the desired shape while a hobby machinist may use a smaller model in their garage.

The different varieties of press lend themselves to different applications. While we focus primarily on the 100+ ton hydraulic presses used in large-scale manufacturing operations there are much smaller models available for home use.

The difference is really just a matter of scale: larger presses are more useful in industrial manufacturing processes simply because they can do more work at once. Some specialized applications need the extra tonnage but the larger surface area of manufacturing presses is the main appeal for many.

How Does a Hydraulic Press Work?

Hydraulic systems are a bit hard to understand for the layman, but they essentially work by Pascal’s Law. This law is relatively easy to explain overall: when pressure is placed on a fluid the pressure moves equally in all directions.

A hydraulic press uses this to its advantage with a two-piston system. One piston is smaller and exerts force through the system by mechanical means. For smaller presses, this is often a hand pump. Larger pieces of equipment use hydraulic motors to create the end effect.

The end result is the same: force is transmitted through the hydraulic fluid contained in the system and a larger amount of force than the initial input comes out on the larger piston which makes up the press.

This force multiplication makes a hydraulic press a remarkable piece of industrial equipment. The output of a hydraulic press is generally measured in tons rather than pounds as you see in the majority of pressure applications.

Due to this extreme pressure, they’re used quite frequently across many industries.

What changes between industries is simple: different molds, brakes, and other accessory pieces are used to create the desired end result.

What Are They Used For?

Hydraulic presses find use in pretty much every industry where metal is used to some extent.

One of the most common applications is in automotive body shops, where they’re used to shape metal to get the desired end result.

The high pressures involved allow for a surprising array of molds to be used when creating parts with tight tolerances as well.

Everything from clutch assemblies to gears can be created using a press.

If it’s metal and needs to be shaped a hydraulic press is a great option to ensure uniformity.

Molding, forging, and even creating sheet metal can all be done using a hydraulic press.

The larger models can are most often used for shaping and working metal. These four-post models have ratings measured at over 100 tons and allow for surprisingly intricate operations depending on the operator’s skill and other tools available.

One of the most common uses is stamping sheet metal to create parts with tight tolerances in molds.

Smaller presses find a variety of uses in the homes of amateur metalworkers.

They’re not just used for metal, however.

Going Beyond Metals

Ceramics are often pressed at some point during the creation process, for instance, and some people have gotten downright artisticΒ when it comes to their use.

Food and makeup products are also created using some form of a hydraulic press. Pills and tablets are created by pressing powdered ingredients with a press.

Plastic forming is made easy with a set of molds, the stock material, and a press. The material can be pressed into precise shapes with the press of a button, making them a favorite for many applications.

For many of these applications, there are specialized presses. Plastics, for instance, often use a temperature-controlledΒ variant for forming thermoplastic materials.

Most of the variations are quite small. They’re just simple innovations to make working with any given material a lot easier. Depending on the job needed they can be absolutely essential or they can be just a matter of convenience.

Basically: any industrial process will most likely useΒ a hydraulic press at some point during the process. They’re seen on almost every manufacturing floor in the world. There are many things that simply aren’t possible without a good press.

Of course, some people just use them to crush random things to see what happens. It’s an expensive hobby but it’s made for a few high-viewership YouTube channels over the years.

Keep On Stomping

So, you’ve got the answer to the question “how does a hydraulic press work?” down pat. You also have a good idea of the many applications of these versatile machines.

If you’re thinking that your shop needs one then you’re in the right place. We’ve got varieties suitable for most industrial machining applications just a click away.

Why not take a look at our selection? They’re a wise investment for any manufacturer.