What Is Press Line Automation

Posted on Dec 19, 2020

Press Line Automation

A press line refers to the production line that features a forming press as the primary work in the entire process. Generally speaking, a standard press line includes a series of operations such as the feeding of workpieces, the pre-pressing processes, the pressing operation, and the finish treatment.

A press line refers to the production line that features a forming press as the primary work in the entire process. Generally speaking, a standard press line includes a series of operations such as the feeding of workpieces, the pre-pressing processes, the pressing operation, and the finish treatment. In the modern manufacturing industry, the computerized control system is introduced to the application of a forming press as well as the whole press line. With the control system, the operations included have gradually become automated, and fewer human factors are involved in the process; this is the press line automation.

What Is Press Line Automation?

The press line automation aims to solve the problems that a traditional press line can have. For example, the feeding of workpieces or raw materials and the control of the press machine are conducted and operated by the on-site operators in a conventional press line. The working speed and the precision and accuracy of the machining work may vary based on the operators. The more experienced and skilled the operators are, the faster and more efficient the work can be and vice versa. The results of the operation cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, press line automation is needed to better the general manufacturing process.

On the other hand, in a modern automated press line, the machines and the working processes are operated and monitored by computer control systems. With the control unit, the whole process can be more efficient. Without human factors, the operations can be more precise. Since the computer system does not get tired, the press line can work on a twenty-four seven basis and the productivity is improved. With press line automation, the mechanists only need to periodically maintain the machines and replace parts if necessary. The work is safer for the personnel too.

What Is a Forming Press?

A forming press is a common type of machine that is used in manufacturing metal parts. The press machine applies pressure and time to deform or reshape the metal pieces into the desired configuration. There are three types of metal forming that are frequently utilized to manufacture metal parts; they are cold forging, warm forging, and hot forging. All of these forming techniques involve a forming press to work. Cold forging refers to the forming process that is conducted at room temperature. In a warm forging or hot forging operation, the key elements are not only time and pressure, but also heat.

:: Read More: What is an automatic punch press?

Anatomy of Forming Press

The essential components of a forming press are the bed, the guide column, the dies or molds, the ram, and the power system. The bed of a forming press is the platform where the metal workpieces are positioned and secured. In an automated press line, the bed is a movable component that works with a feeding system. The clamping system of the workpieces can be a chuck or a vise; however, the most important part of the press bed is the die. A forming die comes in various sizes and configurations. The metal pieces will be deformed in accordance with the design of the dies.

There is a guide column, or two on the console-style forming presses, by the press bed. On the top end of the column, there is a ram that hangs over the press bed. The ram is the key component to a forming press or any other type of press. The ram goes upward or downward along the guide column. When it moves down to the bottom limit, it engages with the dies on the press bed tightly and changes the shape of the workpieces. After a certain period of time, the ram goes back to its previous position and the manufactured parts will be sent to the next station for the follow-up processes. The ram can be driven by a pneumatic system, hydraulic system, or another mechanism.

Other Applications of Press Machine

The metal forging process is only one of the applications that include a press machine. A press machine can be used not only to fabricate metal parts but also to cut, drill, bend, mark, fold, and more. In these pressing applications, the force, the pressing tools, and the materials to be processed are all different. Yet, these operations can all benefit from press line automation. With the automated system, the operations can be performed in a more efficient manner.

Press Cutting

In a press cutting operation, the press is used to dissect materials into a predetermined length or width. The press cutting operation is usually incorporated with other types of metal forming lines such as pipe forming operation or pipe straightening operation. In these production lines, the press is typically placed at the last station of the lines. The metal pipes or tubes often come as a long continuous piece. When the metal pipe passes through the press, the ram descends and cuts the material into shorter pieces.

Press Drilling

Drilling is another machining operation that involves a press machine. In this case, the ram on the press comes in with a spindle configuration and the dies are replaced with drill bits or punches. Punches are a piece of a metal rod with a thick and rigid shaft on one end and a sharp tapered tip on the other. When the ram descends onto the workpiece, the tip end of the punch pierces through the workpiece and creates a hole or a dimple in the workpiece. In this type of operation, the workpieces are usually sheet metal or thin metal panels.

Press Folding & Bending

Press folding and press bending are often referred to interchangeably. This very type of application is primarily performed to form metal tubing with particular cross-section designs. A press machine in these applications also utilizes dies to deform the workpieces. The workpiece to be folded or bent here is also sheet metal. Depending on the configuration of the dies, the sheet metal can be bent into various angles or curves. The manufactured parts will be used as supporting materials or in structural applications.

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