Around 600 BC, the first coins appeared. This might have been the first widespread use of stamped or pressed metal. Of course, they were created by hand. A small, pre-measured amount of metal was struck with a stamp to mark the coin.

Stamping and pressing metals for coins lead to other innovations. Lever presses for things like wine or olive oil transitioned to screw presses and more. Different types of presses created coins, jewelry, roof tiles and more.

The modern machine press punches or stamps materials into shapes like soda cans, hurricane reinforcements, and auto parts. Looking for the right type of press for your shop?

Read on to learn more.

What Is a Machine Press?

AKA a forming press. Its function is to use high pressure to bend or mold a piece. There many different types of machine presses. For example, punch presses, stamping presses or press brakes.

Don’t just think of steel presses. Cabinet hardware might use brass. Cookware might use copper or aluminum. Even ceramics and other materials involve pressing or molding parts.

How Does a Machine Press Work

A flywheel forces a plate or dye onto a metal piece. This force is usually many times the speed and pressure that a manual hammer striking the surface.  Flywheel presses can be hydraulic or pneumatic.

Presses can be fixed-bed type, tilting-table or deep throat. OBI presses refer to open-back inclinable tables. Higher pressure applications need a fixed bed table.

The press operator or tool setter controls the machine and positions the material in the press. Tool setters are skilled workers and need specialized training to maintain a safe work environment. In some industries, a formal apprenticeship is a requirement.

What Are the Types of Presses?

Some of the most common shop presses are the hydraulic press, pneumatic press, and the mechanical press. These types of presses are made to accomplish very similar jobs, however, each has functions that make it a superior choice for certain applications.

Hybrid models powered by both pneumatic and hydraulic pressure exist, but are not always the best choice due to cost and reliability. mechanical presses offer a combination of speed and versatility. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Pneumatic Presses

Pneumatic presses refer to machines where the force to the flywheel is provided by compressed gas or air. Pressurized air moves the press downwards and then the valves release to allow the tool to spring upwards.

This action can be repeated with speed. Air presses are fast, low maintenance, and long-lasting. They are best for quick jobs or lighter weight materials. They can also have inconsistent results.

They are not as cost-effective per pound of pressure in comparison to hydraulic presses. They are not known for consistent, easily repeatable actions.

Hydraulic Presses

Hydraulic presses operate by compressing a liquid to pressure. Hydraulic presses consist of one or more pistons that press into an oil-filled chamber. The pressure forces the oil to move against a baseplate or another piston that is pressed in a downward motion.

Hydraulic presses are very strong and dependable.  They’re well-suited for large jobs or tough work. What differentiates the hydraulic press from the pneumatic press is the deliberate speed. Hydraulic presses are much slower and more forceful, which may be an advantage with certain materials.

Hydraulic presses provide very steady, consistent and even pressure. They require more detailed maintenance than pneumatic presses to maintain efficiency. Oil quality and quantity are a consideration to maintain steady pressure.

Mechanical Presses

The mechanical press offers versatility like a hydraulic press. However, it has production speeds that approach the rate of pneumatic presses. The difference between a hydraulic or pneumatic press and a servo-mechanical press is the replacement of the flywheel, clutch, and brake with motors.

These high-capacity motors allow full programming of stroke profiles, slide motion and position control. This precise programming allows full working energy at any speed and high accuracy.  Most mechanical presses have a fixed stroke length and a set pressure at the end of their action.

Mechanical presses tend to take up a larger footprint than hydraulic presses to do the same job. However, they stamp at the correct pressure quickly and at a greater speed than a hydraulic press. This may a disadvantage if the material must be moved or rotated between stamps.

Choose the Right Press for the Job

The first thing to consider in your selection process is the type of material you primarily work in. Tensile strength, thickness, and size are a consideration. Also, consider if you will create many of the same things or rapid one-offs.

For inexperienced tool setters, a hydraulic press is considered safer, as it moves much more slowly than pneumatic or mechanical presses. It is often more versatile and useful with a range of materials. It has a small footprint, however, the table may be inadequate for your largest work.

Hydraulic presses are slow and cumbersome in comparison to mechanical presses. Choose a mechanical press when speed is important or you have several short-run projects. Mechanical presses are ideal when space is not a consideration.

Can We Help You Find the Perfect Press?

Our experts have many years of experience with fabrication shops in all industries. We can help you find the right types of presses to meet your needs. Our extensive inventory includes more than 100 OBI, hydraulic and mechanical presses for your shop.

Determining the correct machinery for your shop is more than figuring out the space requirements. You need to consider the materials and uses of the end product, your workers and the types of materials to be stamped.

We sell and buy all sorts of mechanical presses, hydraulic presses, and feedlines in Michigan and the U.S. Exchange or replace your shop equipment now. Contact us today.