Arbor Press vs Air Press: Which Should You Choose?

arbor press vs air press

Finding the right press for your needs and applications can be difficult. There are many different options and configurations to choose from. Let’s take a look at the differences between an arbor press vs air press, and the situations that might be ideal for each.

Arbor Press vs Air Press: Functionality

Let’s start with the basics of an arbor press vs air press. What is an arbor press? What is an air press? How does the functionality of each one compare?

What is an Arbor Press?

arbor press example

An arbor press is a manual press that uses gears to multiply the force applied. Though arbor presses can apply up to 2 tons of force, they are often used for smaller jobs, such as staking and riveting. These types of presses generally fit on a workbench, and they’re relatively simple and easy to use.

What is an Air Press?

An air press, also called a pneumatic press, uses compressed air to drive the force behind the press. Manipulating the air pressure can change the force. Air presses can exert up to 5,000 pounds (2.5 tons), which can accommodate a wide variety of different press applications. These presses generally have more advanced features than manual options, but with a much smaller footprint compared to hydraulic presses.

examples of air presses

View Air Hydraulics Inc Air Presses, built for production  

Arbor Press vs Air Press: Advantages and Disadvantages

Arbor Press

The simple and straight-forward design of arbor presses offer a number of advantages, as well as some disadvantages. Understanding each of these can help you choose the right press for the right situation.

Advantage: Small Footprint

If your work area has limited space, an arbor press’s compact design can fit into tight spaces. Arbor presses are designed to sit on workbenches, so they don’t need dedicated floor space.

Advantage: Simple Operation

Though all presses require care and caution to operate safely, arbor presses are designed to be simple. They don’t require a lot of training to operate, and it’s possible to get started quickly.

Advantage: Affordable

The simple operation and relatively limited features of the arbor press make it an affordable option compared to other types of presses. If you’re purchasing a press for the first time, or you’re using the press infrequently, an arbor press will present faster ROI.

Disadvantage: Limited Features

The arbor press is somewhat small and easy to operate, but this can give it some limitations. Some important safety features are missing from arbor presses, and other missing features can make it difficult to take on more complex maneuvers.

Disadvantage: Limited Applications

If you end up working with larger workpieces, different materials, or different applications, your arbor press might not be able to cut it. These limited applications may slow your operation or result in low-quality results for some jobs.

Disadvantage: Limited Growth Potential

Modern presses can give you in-depth information that can make your operation faster and more efficient. The potential of arbor presses is more limited; using data-gathering features, speeding up production, and improving process efficiency generally isn’t always an option for arbor presses.

Disadvantage: Inconsistency

Arbor presses rely on manual operation, which can introduce inconsistencies. For certain applications, it is easy to see if the job has been completed correctly, but for pressing applications that require higher levels of precision, it may be difficult to determine by eye.

Disadvantage: Potential for Injury

Though easy to operate, an arbor press requires the same manual action from the operator for each and every cycle. This repetitive action, performed many times a day, can lead to repetitive stress injuries, which can become very serious and cause permanent disability.

Air Press

An air press or pneumatic press is more advanced, and these additional features can offer a number of benefits. An air press can be a great step up if you find that your manual press isn’t as effective as it used to be, or it can be a good foundational press to start with.

Advantage: Compact Design

Air presses are generally larger than arbor presses, but still present a small footprint. Pneumatic presses are designed to sit on workbenches as well, so they don’t require dedicated floor space, like hydraulic presses.

Advantage: Versatile Applications

The force and configuration of air presses is adjustable in many ways, giving them a wide array of applications. With up to 2.5 tons of force, air presses are suitable for many different assembly applications like riveting, swaging, forming, staking, marking, and other jobs.

Advantage: Easy to Maintain

Using compressed air to magnify force allows the air press to operate in a relatively clean and efficient manner. There’s no additional lubricant or oil required, such as that required for hydraulic press maintenance. Simply maintaining the machine and the air lines will keep the press operating efficiently for years to come.

Advantage: Advanced Features Available

Though they’re not mandatory, air presses can be equipped with many advanced features that aren’t available for arbor presses. These features can enable faster operation, increase safety, reduce defects, and allow operators to detect issues before they cause slow-downs or shut-downs.

Disadvantage: Investment in Factory Air

If your operation is not currently set up with factory air supply, adding a pneumatic system may require additional investment. However, this can also be seen as a growth opportunity, providing the ability to incorporate more energy efficient pneumatic presses into your press lineup.

Disadvantage: Limited Power

Air presses supply force that is equivalent to many arbor presses. However, hydropneumatic and hydraulic presses can supply much more force, with some providing hundreds of tons of force. For these types of heavy-duty applications, an air press might not be sufficient, and a hydraulic or hydropneumatic press might be ideal.

When it comes to deciding between an air press and an arbor press, understanding these advantages and disadvantages can help. If you have questions about which press would be best for your production, contact us. We’re happy to give you more information about each press available for the applications you’re working with.

Need a production air press, fit for your job or project?

Give us a few details and we will quote the best press for the application.

How to Make Your Pneumatic Press System More Efficient

how to make your pneumatic press system more efficient

Efficiency has become increasingly important across shops and factories of all sizes. Equipment with maximum efficiency not only decreases total costs of ownership, but also helps your facility reduce total energy costs. Unfortunately, many equipment manufacturers do not design with efficiency in mind. In this blog post, we’ll focus specifically on how to make your pneumatic press system more efficient.

How to Make Your Pneumatic Press System More Efficient

A few design considerations can help make your pneumatic system more efficient, while still delivering exceptional performance. Some of these considerations are ideal for those looking for a new pneumatic press, and others may be implemented as upgrades or improvements to an existing press. Whether you are optimizing the design of a new press or upgrading an existing press, making your pneumatic press system more efficient can reduce energy consumption from an estimated 20 to 35%, according to the US Department of Energy.

In this post, we’ll provide links to a few tools designed to improve the efficiency of pneumatic systems. These are only examples, and do not represent sponsorships or endorsements. Other alternatives may also be available.

Our experts design for efficiency as well as performance
Learn more about our pneumatic press systems  

Cylinder Size

Calculating the right size for the pneumatic system’s cylinder can help to improve efficiency substantially. Both undersized and oversized components can cause excessive energy use, but several tools and calculations exist to help manufacturers and their clients find the ideal size for the machine’s cylinders.

Undersizing cylinders can cause the machine to overwork to accomplish the job, while oversizing the cylinders uses more air volume and more energy than necessary with each cycle. A good rule of thumb is to add 25% additional capacity, but no more. This will ensure you have enough force to complete the operation effectively, without expending extra energy.

Correctly sizing the cylinder on your pneumatic machine can be a complicated task. The experts at Air-Hydraulics have helped many customers get the right fit for their needs. With the right-sized cylinder, you can save money on energy costs, work faster, and produce better components. If you have questions about cylinder sizing or the overall design of your pneumatic system, contact us.

Pneumatic Tubing and Seals

Another opportunity for increased efficiency has to do with your compressed air delivery across your pneumatic system, with the first place to start being the distance between your air source and machines. The shorter the distance your compressed air has to travel to your pneumatic system, the less potential there is for loss. To optimize the path between the compressor and the actuator for reduced air loss and greatest efficiency, you want to aim for the shortest tubing possible, generally no longer than 10 ft.

Along this path, it’s also important to look for leaks. The US Department of Energy estimates that compressed air leaks waste as much as 20 to 30% of the compressor’s output. These leaks may occur along the incoming air supply to the machine, the tubing going to the cylinder itself, as well as faulty valves or seals. In particular, look for seals that have been damaged, or worn down over time. Finding the right type of seal is also important. For example, lapped spool-and-sleeve valves are better for operations where the valve shifts, while soft seals are ideal when airflow is constant. In areas with high variations in temperature and humidity, it may be helpful to use a seal that will not corrode or warp, such as Teflon or polyurethane. Keeping extra seals handy and performing more regular maintenance checks to your tubing system also helps ensure you are keeping your pneumatic system as efficient as possible.

We supply spare parts and seal kits for your tool crib to keep your pneumatic presses firing on all cylinders
Contact us about parts for your air press equipment  

System Pressure

Regulating and optimizing the pressure to the system can also help to improve pneumatic efficiency significantly. It’s tempting to increase the supply pressure in an attempt to get more power, but this won’t be effective. Instead, use pressure regulators to adjust the pressure to the system as needed. Though these components may cost more initially to install, pressure regulation can generate up to 40% more energy savings, and increase your pneumatic system efficiency significantly.

Air Regulators come standard with all AHI pneumatic and hydropneumatic presses.

Return Stroke

Though most pneumatic presses only require substantial force application in one direction, many presses use the same amount of energy for both the active and return strokes. If pressure isn’t necessary for the return stroke, lowering the pressure can reduce substantial energy costs. Reducing the pressure on the return stroke also helps to save compressed air, and reduces wear on the system, which in turn reduces maintenance needs and costs. Regulating the air pressure on the return stroke wouldn’t be recommended if you have any end of ram tooling that exceeds a certain weight limit, as this might cause the machine to function improperly.

Our AHI designed dual regulated system can be added to the standard package for our pneumatic presses to specifically target the return stroke and turn down return air pressure to use less air if it’s not needed. This simple tool offers up to 25% air savings over conventional pneumatic air systems. We also offer an optional control package in our hydropneumatic presses that delivers dual pressure with a variable boost stroke. This power stroke controller can save up to 49% of air usage over standard pneumatic systems.

Pneumatic Energy Savings

In addition to the return stroke regulation above, a variety of energy-saving methods, tools, and modifications can help optimize your pneumatic system for compressed air use. A bridge circuit is one such modification. Use of a bridge circuit instead of a standard circuit can reduce energy consumption by up to 50% for applicable systems. An air reservoir is a common energy-saving modification which uses an air spring to recover exhaust air. The use of smart sensors at pivotal points can also regulate the system for optimal performance and energy use.

These, and other modifications, are not ideal for all systems and applications, but can substantially improve energy-efficiency on many pneumatic systems and may be worth looking into. These additional modifications may also require more upfront investment, so it’s important to consider the ratio of investment cost to savings to find the optimal configuration for your system.

There are many ways to make your pneumatic press system more efficient, but it can be difficult to know which modifications are ideal for your system specifically. When it comes to pneumatic press systems, AHI is committed to delivering the most efficient options for your pneumatic and hydropneumatic presses. Our press experts can help you find the right customizations and design an energy-efficient pneumatic press from the outset. Contact us to learn more about modifications and improvements specifically for pneumatic press systems.

What Are the Advantages of a Pneumatic Press?

When looking for a shop or factory press, you have several options including manual, pneumatic, hydraulic, and hydropneumatic presses. These all have varying advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the advantages of a pneumatic press compared to other types.

What is a Pneumatic Press?

A pneumatic press, also known as an air press, uses the potential energy of compressed air to create force. Gas, usually nitrogen or regular air, is compressed within a cylinder to create pressure anywhere from 10 psi to 5,000 psi. This is then used to generate force, which can be used for a variety of different jobs, including assembly, riveting, punching, staking, stamping, and crimping, among others.

A pneumatic press differs from a hydraulic press and a hydropneumatic press because it doesn’t use compressed liquid. This difference in design and function is also what provides some of the main advantages of a pneumatic press.

What are the Advantages of a Pneumatic Press?

Lower Costs to Purchase

A pneumatic press relies on a relatively simple operation compared to hydraulic presses and some hydropneumatic presses. For this reason, pneumatic presses tend to be much less expensive to purchase. This is one of the biggest advantages of a pneumatic press. Adding a pneumatic press to your shop won’t require nearly as much saving, or take as much out of your budget as a hydraulic press or hydropneumatic press.

Manufacturing-grade air presses, like the 12-A and AP-400, start around $4,510 and $3,500, respectively. The C-400 10-ton air over oil press, which is comparable to most mid-range hydraulic presses, starts at about $12,500. A comparable, fully hydraulic press can be as much as three or four times more expensive than a hydropneumatic press!

Smaller Footprint

The pneumatic press’s relatively simple operation and function also has other benefits. If there are places in your shop that can be a tight squeeze or hard to get around, a pneumatic press might be ideal. Pneumatic presses tend to have a smaller footprint than hydropneumatic presses, and much smaller than hydraulic presses. This also makes them easier to move or relocate, which is especially handy if you see changes on the horizon for your shop.

Lower Costs to Maintain

Hydraulic presses require more maintenance compared to pneumatic presses. The addition of hydraulic fluid, and the accompanying components, can cause maintenance costs to add up quickly. They also require time and expertise to maintain properly, otherwise your investment will wear out prematurely which could result in unexpected downtime and non-conforming parts.

Pneumatic presses, on the other hand, require much less maintenance. Maintaining your pneumatic press, even one providing a lot of force, requires a few simple adjustments and check-ups. You’ll need to check and replace your air filters regularly, and keep the press components properly lubricated but comparatively, the low maintenance costs and demands are some of the biggest advantages of pneumatic presses.

Easy to Use

Unlike a manual press, which requires more force from the operator and can result in repetitive stress injuries, a pneumatic press provides consistent force on its own, which makes it easier to use. A pneumatic press has fewer risks of repetitive stress injuries, and tends to be more comfortable to use compared to manual presses.

Compared to hydraulic or hydropneumatic presses, pneumatic presses generally require less training, and they’re easier to learn. Workers can quickly become comfortable using a pneumatic press, making training easier and allowing more workers to become familiar with the device faster.

Plenty of Power

Though a hydraulic press and a hydropneumatic press provide more press force than a pneumatic press, these presses are by no means weak. A pneumatic press can provide up to 5,000 lbs of force, which is more than enough for a variety of jobs. As you’re choosing your press, it’s important to assess how much force you need beforehand. This will help you get the right amount of force, without overpaying.

Pneumatic presses can be easily overlooked by their more powerful counterparts, but they can be an easy and economical option for many different jobs. If you’re interested in a high-quality pneumatic press, or you’re not sure which press is the right fit for your shop, contact us. We’ll help you find a press that is both effective and economical.

Air Press vs Air Over Oil Press: What’s the Difference?

Air Press Vs Air Over Oil Press

When it comes to tough assembly and metalforming jobs, a great factory press is an essential tool. But, there are many different types of presses to choose from. Two of the more affordable and easily usable types of industrial presses are air presses (AKA pneumatic presses) and air over oil presses (AKA hydropneumatic presses). So, what’s the difference between an air press vs an air over oil press?

Air Press vs Air Over Oil Press: What’s the Difference?

What is an Air Press?

An air press and an air over oil press are similar, but there are some important differences. An air press, or pneumatic press, uses compressed air in a series of cylinders to create force. The compressed gas contained in the cylinder can be regular air, mostly nitrogen and oxygen, or compressed nitrogen. When the air is compressed further in the cylinder, it creates pressure anywhere between 10psi and 5,000psi, which can then be used for a wide variety of assembly applications, riveting, punching, forming and other jobs.

What is an Air Over Oil Press?

An air over oil press, or hydropneumatic press, uses hydraulic and pneumatic technology to create force. This system uses compressed air to drive a piston that compresses hydraulic fluid. These technologies combined can create even more force than a pneumatic press, and can create force comparable to a full hydraulic press.

Air Press vs Air Over Oil Press: How Are They Similar?

Air presses and air over oil presses are similar in many ways. Both use pneumatic technology to create force. They also operate in similar ways, and have similar safety mechanisms and features. An air press and an air over oil press both require similar power needs, and have similar maintenance schedules. Compared to a purely hydraulic press, the air press and air over oil press also have less intense maintenance schedules.

Comparing an air press vs air over oil press, there are a few similarities:

  • Both use compressed air to generate force
  • Similar maintenance schedules
  • Similar power requirements
  • Similar safety mechanisms
  • Similar operation

Air Press Vs Air Over Oil Press: How Are They Different?

Though there are many similarities, there are also several important differences between an air press and an air over oil press. Since it uses hydraulic technology combined with compressed air, the air over oil press can exert more maximum pressure than a purely pneumatic press. An air press can exert between 150 and 5,000 lbs (2.5 tons) of force, while an air over oil press can exert between 2.5 and 50 tons of force. For this reason, an air press and an air over oil press are each ideal for different jobs and applications. An air press may be used for light applications like assembly, riveting, punching, staking, stamping, crimping, and similar tasks. An air over oil press may be used for heavier applications like bushing and bearing insertion, stud insertion, broaching, swaging, trimming, notching, and similar tasks.

Browse information and recommended presses by Industrial Press Application >

Another important difference between an air press vs an air over oil press is the costs associated with each. While they have similar maintenance schedules and costs to maintain, an air over oil press can exert more force and costs more to purchase. However, an air over oil press is generally more affordable than a purely hydraulic press. Finally, an air over oil press will be slightly larger and take up more space in your shop than an air press.

Comparing an air press vs air over oil press, there are a number of important differences:

  • An air over oil press can exert more maximum force than an air press
  • Each press is ideal for different jobs
  • An air over oil press costs more to purchase than an air press
  • An air over oil press has a larger footprint than an air press

Both an air press and an air over oil press have similarities as well as important differences. Which one is right for your shop will depend on your primary application, your budget, your shop layout, and more. If you’re unsure which type of press is right for you, contact us. We can help you find the right fit for your needs.