When we think about how manufacturing makes the items we need, usually we see the machine on video. Wax gets melted and molded into crayons, or nickels receive the embossing that turns them into coins. They move from conveyor belt to vat and finally to a neat pile, where employees will ship them to your local store.
These videos help us gain a perspective on how things are made. Soothing music accompanies, or a punny song as we see dyes mixing with wax. We learn the name for coins before they are embossed: “flats”. Sometimes we become more appreciative of the things in our lives, knowing how much work goes into a single product. Other times we wonder if we can go into the business.
Pneumatic manufacturing is more work than it seems. Even with that appreciation, we take for granted that the machines just whirr and go, pressing shapes into raw material and moving them along conveyor belts. It doesn’t help that we see many of these clips as children on educational shows, to explain how the nickels that we use to buy crayons become formed. They leave out the physics and terminology that go into making each product.
Manufacturers and employees who use these machines know more than the common layperson does. They can identify the processes that make the objects we need for everyday life. Even so, knowing how the machines function can increase our understanding of industrialization, and what people need to know. The more we learn about complicated machines, the better we can use them and assist in repairing them.
Pneumatic presses are one such machine that people can understand better. They are highly powerful, fast, and sustainable in the long run. For manufacturers, they also save on costs of maintenance and production. We cannot underestimate the benefits of these presses and how they assist in embossing our nickels and such.
We use them in industrial settings, but perhaps in the future entrepreneurs can use them for other purposes. After all, three-dimensional printers have already changed the manufacturing game. They can also incorporate smaller versions of pneumatic presses if the technology allows for it.
Imagine what small-scale manufacturers could do when reshaping or embossing their version of crayons, to sell to kids. What’s more, they can promote safer standards on the entrepreneurial side.
What Is A Pneumatic Press?
Pneumatic presses are machines that apply heavy-duty force towards designated objects. Compressed air powers this force, by increasing or decreasing pressure within a closed area. They’re usually used in the manufacturing industry to make the items that we need in our daily lives.
Unlike with other inventions like printing presses, which used mechanical force to press ink impressions onto paper, pneumatic presses run on a large amount of air pressure. Hydraulic presses tend to run on oil, which is a nonrenewable energy source. Instead of printing the evening news, you will more likely get tractor brakes or the drill used at your next dentist visit.
Many industries use pneumatic presses; automotive show partiality towards toggle presses, as one example. Another would be custom steel stamping, which can reshape dozens of units within a reasonable amount of time. These stamps are used for marking brand names and other important details on products.
Why Use Pneumatics?
Pneumatics is the use of compressed air to generate work in a device or process. They are often implemented when mechanical energy is not sufficient. By “mechanical” we refer to human labor. It can be as simple as pulling a lever, or as complicated as painstakingly designing a product and needing to complete the task in less time.
One benefit of pneumatics is that employees have to work less. Humanity has a history of high expectations regarding labor. High expectations with warm bodies mean that we often get into disputes, and create health problems in the long run. Back pain is no joke, especially when manufacturing the items that we need.
Humans are strong, but our bodies chafe under some of the expectations that the Industrial Revolution placed upon us. Those expectations will not stop and in fact, will increase as the need for manufactured items grows with globalization. When more people need dental work, you need pneumatic-based dental equipment.
Pneumatics operators, as a result, suffer less fatigue and can increase their productivity in the workplace. The machines are more lightweight than say machines that use electronic or hydraulic forces, which make them great for transporting between job sites. They still do the same amount of work. You’ll have less complaining employees, and your back will thank you for when you have to do some of the labor.
In addition, pneumatics is cheap, and the machines run for a long time. Since they run on air pressure, and the pressure doesn’t wear as much on machine parts, you can make pneumatic presses part of an efficient system. You have to replace parts less often, which in turn saves on maintenance costs. When you want to go into manufacturing, you have fewer startup costs with pneumatic machines.
When you are running a tight ship and need to keep your expenses down, you’ll want to use a machine that runs inexpensively at a fixed cost. Many pneumatic parts are also inexpensive relative to mechanical or electric parts, so even repairs won’t take a chunk out of emergency savings. Your accountants will be happy when they can balance all of your budgets.
You also reduce workplace hazards when manufacturing items. Some pneumatic presses use electric currents to kickstart their valves, but not all do. Mainly they rely on air pressure. If anything they need just a jolt but can also receive a mechanical one if necessary.
That means that you can operate them even after a dangerous power outage, and your employees will remain safe. As long as we never have air shortages, then you can keep using a pneumatic press in your business.
If the machine springs a leak, then you merely need to find the leak and repair it. That can be achieved by replacing the right tube or valve and carrying onward. What’s more, pneumatic machines have pressure sensors that will detect a leak almost immediately. You can notice when you need to make a replacement and maintain any work schedule, intense or light.
Since the gases used are safe, you won’t have to worry about the potential workplace hazard of dangerous substances exposed to you or your employees. No need to fear if they have inhaled fumes from hydraulic oil and blackened their lungs. Air also doesn’t combust, so using pneumatics reduces the chance of potential workplace fires. You can work with flammable substances with ease, unlike with electronic machines.
Compressed air also a clean, renewable resource. Air is all around us, so that we can breathe and plants can grow. Rather than having to buy fossil fuel, pneumatic machines usually have an air compressor that absorbs the air around us and reduces the space between the molecules to build pressure.
Other options for the gases used include nitrogen, but using such a periodic element doesn’t make or break a process. Regular air will do just fine, and you can use other common gases that will not provide a hazard. You mainly need to check that the air quality is clean and even implement filters, but that’s no different from adding a filter to an air conditioner unit.
Pneumatic vs. Hydraulic System
How does a pneumatic system differ from that of hydraulic? For one, the substances used also differentiate the two systems. As we discussed, pneumatics uses the air in a designated work area, which is captured, compressed and used as a power source. This air is natural and can come from any substance.
Hydraulics work on similar principles but transport liquids instead of gases. These liquids involve oil usually, which needs to be checked. The overall flow is more consistent because liquid volume tends to stay the same, as opposed to gases.
For another, pneumatics is less hazardous than working with material that can risk an electric fire or flooding. Electric fires are one such danger that can happen when working with purely electric or hydraulic forces. Oil combusts easily if it encounters sparks.
These fires are also harder to douse, due to oil being a repellant of water and most fire safety foams proving hazardous to the environment. Using pneumatics means that you can rout this problem entirely. There will be no fires or hazardous substances used as part of your manufacturing process.
Leaks in a hydraulic machine are messier and more hazardous. Many hydraulic fluids are oils and can catch sparks, and we have outlined the problems with that strategy above. If they spill, then you cannot just find the leak and seal it. You need to clean up the oil, ensure that it has not tainted any of the products, and create a loss of time.
Some presses combine pneumatic and hydraulic forces. In the case of a hydro-pneumatic press, it uses an oil chamber to generate the air-pressure needed. This allows for more consistent flow and force, albeit with the risk of leakage. You have to be careful to watch for spills and to clean them up in an efficient manner.
How Does The Press Work?
As implied by the name, a press applies a downward force to an object that is either fixed in place or moving along an assembly line. It can be to flatten raw material, to impress items, or to reshape it in a designated format. We cannot underestimate the power of this substance.
How do we encourage the machine to lower itself at a fixed speed and apply pressure? Simple; we use valves and compressed airflow. Valves control the amount of air, and when it moves throughout the machine. It’s why valves do most of the actual maintenance within a machine and keep it running.
A pneumatics system works by increasing and decreasing air flows using valves with ports. Ports allow for air to simultaneously flow in different directions. When the machine turns on, these valves open; the compressed air turns cylinders and tubes within the machine, which in turn power up the engine. When the function is finished, the machine reduces the pressure by releasing the gas and returning to the neutral position.
Learn More From SMC Pneumatics
SMC Pneumatics stores all the parts you need to repair your machines, and we know everything about the processes involved. Our experts are always available to recommend the models you need. Or, if you are curious about where to get started with pneumatic presses and how to use them in your business, we can also help with that.
Contact us today to learn more about the parts that can power up your pneumatic presses. No question is too small, especially when the components are much smaller. We can address all your questions and inquiries about investing in a pneumatic machine.