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Posted on Jun 8, 2021
A press is a machine that shapes and forms a variety of materials. It can perform many metalworking tasks, including forging, stamping, and die cutting. There are two main types of presses today – the mechanical press and the hydraulic press. Although both serve the same purpose, it’s important that we understand their key differences.
Generally, a mechanical press features high production speed, while a hydraulic press offers higher flexibility for more complex forming processes. In this article, we'll discuss how they differ in terms of the mechanism and applications.
As the name implies, a mechanical press generates its power mechanically. Its main motor is connected to a crankshaft that cycles the ram and to a flywheel. In simple mechanical presses, a clutch controls the motor directly. In bigger and more complex press machines, the flywheel activates in motion pinion gear system that rotates the crankshaft.
As the motor powers the main system, the flywheels store this kinetic energy and convey it to the rest of the machine. Flywheels with bigger mass will yield a higher level of energy. This allows mechanical presses to achieve highest production speeds and forces. Especially when working with relatively flat and simple work pieces.
The simple setup and operation requirements translate to fast and repeatable results. Mechanical presses are also less prone to leakage as they do not require hydraulic fluid to power itself. That being said, they do suffer from the lack of variable stroke lengths, which in turn limits their applications.
→ Read more: What Makes Mechanical Press Machines So Impressive?
A hydraulic press exerts force on a fluid that in turn generates power. It mainly consists of a piston, a hollow cylinder, and a power unit/pump. The pump moves the piston which increases the internal fluid pressure. The cylinder then moves along the axis of the piston. This generates a linear momentum which forces the ram onto the workpiece.
Unlike mechanical presses, how much force a hydraulic machine can generate is subject to the operating pressure and cylinder bore size. The power unit also plays an important role in determining the ram speed. Overall, hydraulic presses are more versatile thanks to the variable stroke lengths.
Despite the advantages, hydraulic presses are often susceptible to leakage owing to the fluid mechanism. Some types of hydraulic fluids can even catch fire. Also, it has a relatively low operational speed.
The major applications of mechanical and hydraulic presses are as follows:
|Mechanical Press||Hydraulic Press|
✓ Sheet metal blanking
✓ Deep Drawing
✓ Sheet metal blanking
✓ Deep Drawing
✓ Household Appliances
✓ Oil & Gas
✓ Marine Transport
✓ Commercial Transport
Figure 3. Applications and Industries of Mechanical and Hydraulic Press
So let us summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the two press types. When should you go for a mechanical and when for a hydraulic press?
Mechanical Press Advantages +
Mechanical Press Drawbacks −
Hydraulic Press Advantages +
Hydraulic Press Drawbacks −
Despite the differences between a mechanical press and a hydraulic press, both machines have their own advantages. Much like choosing between hydraulic and mechanical brakes, you are going to face a series of trade-offs. Therefore, review your metalworking requirements in terms of flexibility, speed, output, cost, etc. before buying your press machine.
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