Introducing Automatic Press

Posted on May 21, 2021

Automatic Press

With CNC, the entire work cycle from loading the workpiece to unloading the manufactured part is automated. The human factor is included only when the CNC system needs to be adjusted or when the press machine needs to be maintained or repaired. In general, the goal of implementing an automatic press in a production line is to minimize the errors that are made by human operators, reduce the tooling wear and machinery maintenance, and ultimately improve the productivity of the process.

A press machine applies high pressure against a workpiece to shape it into the desired form. The process is mostly done on metal objects since their malleability allows the materials to deform while at the same time withstand the pressure. For CNC manufacturing and engineering, pressing operations are conducted with automatic press machines that are usually hydraulically or mechanically powered.
 

CNC Press Machine

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. The automatic press machine that works with a CNC system is meant for heavy-duty pressing operations. A heavy-duty pressing process refers to the mass production of parts to which the efficiency and precision of work are required. Since every step in the process should be carried out correctly and the production quality consistent, an automatic press machine that collaborates with the CNC system is preferred over a conventional press machine.
 

Construction of a Press Machine

An automatic press machine is also known as an automatic forming press. This type of press is used heavily in the modern manufacturing industry. Though a press machine may come in with a number of styles and configurations based on the end application, the general construction of the presses is not much different; they all share the same basic components. A typical press machine is constructed with a bolster, a ram, a power system, and a die/ mold set. An automatic press has the functions of all these parts integrated and controlled by a CNC system.
 

:: Read More: A Quick Guide to Cold Press Machine
 

Bolster as the Work Surface

The bolster is the work surface of the machine; it is sometimes called the bed or the plate. This is where the workpieces are placed and the pressing performed. For most CNC machinery, a workpiece is secured on the work surface with a faceplate (the base of the machining center) by clamp, vise, chuck, or another sort of work-holding system. On a CNC press machine, a workpiece is secured on the bolster by the bottom die/ mold. During a pressing process, the workpiece is held in place by the bottom die to be forged.
 

Upper Ram to Apply the Pressing Force

The upper ram is also called the upper die or another mold. The upper die is the other half of the die set on a press machine. The ram is positioned right above the bolster by a column and it has the vertical movement capability; the ram moves upward and downward along a column. The length of the column is the stroke of the ram. During a pressing process, the ram descends down onto the bolster so that the upper die and the bottom die can be completely engaged. Once the two halves seal together, the workpiece in between is deformed and reshaped. The ram will return to its previous position after the pressing.
 

Pressing Process Automation

In a conventional pressing process, the feeding of the workpiece, the replacement of dies, and the working of the ram all involve a certain level of human labor. The involvement of human labor in such a process brings about several downfalls. First of all, a manually operated pressing process is time-consuming. With more time to complete a work cycle, productivity cannot be improved. Also, the manual operation of a press can be dangerous since the operators are expected to get their hands on the moving parts regularly. Therefore, press machine automation is necessary in order to make the process more efficient and safe.
 

Feeding Automation

The workpiece feeding automation is considered one of the key improvements an automatic press machine makes. In a conventional workpiece feeding process, one or a few operators have to repeatedly load the workpieces onto the press machine and unload the manufactured parts from it. The metal workpieces are usually heavy and it takes a great effort to move them. The process brings physical damages to the operators in the long run. In addition, the fatigue may further lead to errors and slows down the process. With an automatic press, the loading and unloading of workpieces are done by a feeder and these downfalls can be avoided. Moreover, with the machine executing the feeding process, tooling wear can also be reduced.
 

Power Press Automation

The pressing ram on a press is driven by a power system. In the modern manufacturing industry, a power press usually collaborates with a hydraulic system or a mechanical system. A hydraulic system uses a set of hydraulic cylinders to generate the pressing force while a mechanical system applies a motor to translate the rotary movement into pressing power. Either way, the power output, the pressing stroke, and the pressing time are all controlled by the CNC system. Since precision and accuracy are required in a pressing process, the ram on an automatic press is controlled by the computer so that the production quality can be assured.

With CNC, the entire work cycle from loading the workpiece to unloading the manufactured part is automated. The human factor is included only when the CNC system needs to be adjusted or when the press machine needs to be maintained or repaired. In general, the goal of implementing an automatic press in a production line is to minimize the errors that are made by human operators, reduce the tooling wear and machinery maintenance, and ultimately improve the productivity of the process.
 

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