Choosing the Right Hydraulic Press for Manufacturing and Assembly

hydraulic press for manufacturing and assembly

Choosing the right type of press can significantly impact productivity and quality at your factory. Let’s take a look at the details of hydraulic presses for manufacturing and assembly, as well as some potential alternatives to hydraulic presses.

Your Press Process

There are many different factory presses to choose from, and finding the right press for your needs means matching the functionality and design of the press to the needs of your process. It’s important to assess your process first, so you know what to look for in a press, and then assess the different options available, so you can find the right fit.

As you assess your process, look for the following:

  • Force: how much force does your process need? A few shortcuts can help you calculate force, which can help you hone in on the right-sized press.
  • Speed: how fast do you need your press to operate? Consider the surrounding processes and your production needs.
  • Job type: will your press be performing one or two jobs repetitively, or will you need to make adjustments to perform a variety of different tasks?
  • Dimensions: consider the dimensions of your part or workpiece, as well as the space available in your shop. This can help you determine the stroke length needed, and the possible footprint of the press.

Hydraulic Presses for Manufacturing or Assembly

The following are a few of the most common presses used in manufacturing and assembly operations. We’ve selected these press types because of their versatility, functionality, stability, and power, which makes them ideal for a variety of different manufacturing and assembly tasks.

HP545C-Frame Hydraulic Press

The C-frame hydraulic press is a versatile choice for manufacturing and assembly. Its open-front design allows easy access to the work area for easier die changing or adjustments and also for material loading, making it suitable for a variety of tasks such as bending, stamping, and forming. Since these presses are often smaller than 2 or 4-post presses by design, they are great choices when you’re dealing with limited floor space but still need the power of full hydraulic force. These presses are typically lower in cost compared to 2 and 4-post hydraulic presses as well.

Hydropneumatic presses are also available with a C-frame design. Air-over-oil presses can provide between 2.5 and 50 tons of force, allowing these models to accomplish many of the same jobs as hydraulic presses.

2 or 4 Post Hydraulic Press

For heavy-duty applications, 2 or 4 post hydraulic presses provide stability and strength. The vertical posts on each side of the working area can either be structural, or have a guided platen that moves along the posts for perpendicularity. In either case the hydraulic cylinder or cylinders are typically mounted at the top of these posts.

With non-guided 2- or 4 – post hydraulic presses, the structural configuration simply offers more room for larger pieces of working material. Guided systems provide an even surface area of pressure, exerting force horizontally along the surface area of the guided platen, ensuring perpendicularity for tasks that require a consistent and uniform application of force. These configurations may be required for punching several dies from a sheet of metal, foam or plastic, or for other applications like metal forming and pressing over a large surface area.

Alternatives to Hydraulic Presses

The following presses are not full hydraulic presses, but they fit the bill for jobs and applications that require hydraulic power and often come with higher efficiency and lower cost and maintenance, so they are worth mentioning in the same vein. These are hydropneumatic presses, the first of which is something uniquely designed to function just like hydraulic, with a higher return on ROI.

Rapid Advance Low-Force Hydraulic Intensified Air-Over-Oil Press

15 Ton HiLo PressA hydropneumatic press is a great alternative to a purely hydraulic press for manufacturing and assembly. The Air Hydraulics line of AH-Series Hydropneumatic Presses provide a range of 4 to 50 tons of force. Since this model combines pneumatic and hydraulic forces, it works faster than a purely hydraulic press, and also requires less maintenance and initial investment. This model’s rapid, low-force approach stroke uses a hydraulic-intensified half-inch power stroke, providing a strong finish to a steady procedure, and also provides a low-cost, energy-efficient alternative to a single or 3-phase high voltage hydraulic power unit.

Full Powerstroke Air-Over-Oil Presses

While most hydropneumatic presses deliver intensified power within a half-inch of the cylinder stroke, air-over-oil presses designed with full power strokes like our unique C-Series Air Hydraulics Presses, can be the perfect alternatives to medium force hydraulic presses.

These presses combine the advantages of hydraulic and pneumatic systems, offering a full power stroke like their hydraulic counterparts, but using compressed air for the return stroke, providing efficiency and speed. The full powerstroke air-over-oil model press provides between 2.5 and 15 tons of force, with pressure maintained throughout the entire stroke. This type of press is ideal for bushing or bearing insertion, press fit, stud insertion, and many other manufacturing and assembly tasks. These presses provide the force of a hydraulic press, with reduced maintenance demands, increased speed, quieter operation, no high-voltage power requirements and a lower upfront investment cost.


View our Air Hydraulic C-Series Presses ›


Choosing the right press for manufacturing and assembly involves a careful consideration of force, speed, and control. Hydraulic presses, along with their alternatives, offer a spectrum of options. By understanding the nuances of each type, manufacturers can make informed decisions that contribute to the efficiency and success of their operations. If you’re wondering about which press is ideal for your manufacturing or assembly needs, contact us. We can help you find the right design, force, and features for your application.

Get a quote on the perfect press for your job or project

Provide a few details on your application requirements and any specific or custom features you’re looking for and we’ll get you a quote for the best press for the job.

Alternatives to Hydraulic Presses

The following presses are not full hydraulic presses, but they fit the bill for jobs and applications that require hydraulic power and often come with higher efficiency and lower cost and maintenance, so they are worth mentioning in the same vein. These are hydropneumatic presses, the first of which is something uniquely designed to function just like hydraulic, with a higher return on ROI.

Rapid Advance Low-Force Hydraulic Intensified Air-Over-Oil Press

15 Ton HiLo PressA hydropneumatic press is a great alternative to a purely hydraulic press for manufacturing and assembly. The Air Hydraulics line of AH-Series Hydropneumatic Presses provide a range of 4 to 50 tons of force. Since this model combines pneumatic and hydraulic forces, it works faster than a purely hydraulic press, and also requires less maintenance and initial investment. This model’s rapid, low-force approach stroke uses a hydraulic-intensified half-inch power stroke, providing a strong finish to a steady procedure, and also provides a low-cost, energy-efficient alternative to a single or 3-phase high voltage hydraulic power unit.

Full Powerstroke Air-Over-Oil Presses

While most hydropneumatic presses deliver intensified power within a half-inch of the cylinder stroke, air-over-oil presses designed with full power strokes like our unique C-Series Air Hydraulics Presses, can be the perfect alternatives to medium force hydraulic presses.

These presses combine the advantages of hydraulic and pneumatic systems, offering a full power stroke like their hydraulic counterparts, but using compressed air for the return stroke, providing efficiency and speed. The full powerstroke air-over-oil model press provides between 2.5 and 15 tons of force, with pressure maintained throughout the entire stroke. This type of press is ideal for bushing or bearing insertion, press fit, stud insertion, and many other manufacturing and assembly tasks. These presses provide the force of a hydraulic press, with reduced maintenance demands, increased speed, quieter operation, no high-voltage power requirements and a lower upfront investment cost.


View our Air Hydraulic C-Series Presses ›


Choosing the right press for manufacturing and assembly involves a careful consideration of force, speed, and control. Hydraulic presses, along with their alternatives, offer a spectrum of options. By understanding the nuances of each type, manufacturers can make informed decisions that contribute to the efficiency and success of their operations. If you’re wondering about which press is ideal for your manufacturing or assembly needs, contact us. We can help you find the right design, force, and features for your application.

When Do You Need a Hydraulic Press?

when do you need a hydraulic press?

A hydraulic press is an exceptionally powerful machine that is critical to manufacturing a wide variety of equipment across many different industries. However, hydraulic presses are also expensive, and labor-intensive to maintain. It’s good to know your options when looking at presses that perform various applications, and understand when you ultimately need a hydraulic press over a less costly alternative.

Types of Presses

There are many different types of presses, which have been evolving since the early factory presses were used in the 1500’s. Some of the largest presses can exert up to 80,000 tons of force, while smaller presses can exert as low as 150 lbs of force. This opens up factory presses to a wide range of different applications. However, it can be difficult to choose which type of press is best for your needs. A hydraulic press is often the default choice, but it is not always the optimal choice. Let’s take a look at the situations that require a hydraulic press, and when alternatives can be used.

Interested in the perfect alternative to a 10-ton hydraulic press? See the AHI solution › 

When Do You Need a Hydraulic Press?

Longer Stroke Length

You need a hydraulic press in a few unique situations. Though it’s ideal for the machine maintenance, process speed, and overall efficiency to use the shortest stroke length possible, many processes require longer stroke lengths. In these cases, a hydraulic press may be necessary. Hydraulic presses can have longer strokes due to their self-contained oil capacity, and a hydraulic pump can be designed to move oil pressure over longer distances. For parts, materials, or components that are large or awkward to work with, a longer stroke length can make it easier to manage the workpieces. Longer stroke lengths are also required for unique tooling operations that require deeper delving into the workpiece, such as pressing a bearing race 8 inches or more into a housing.

High Force

Hydraulic presses typically exert more force than other types of presses. Though hydropneumatic presses, in particular, can also exert large amounts of force, hydraulic presses are ideal for very heavy-duty applications. This might include heavy broaching applications, parts with larger dimensions or thicker material, applications with tighter tolerances or jobs that require deeper press fits. In these cases, hydraulic may be your best bet for consistent quality and performance.

High Retract Force

When working with heavy pieces of tooling, such as large die sets, hydraulic presses can be ideal. Hydraulic presses use pressurized hydraulic oil to exert force as the cylinder retracts. This allows them to effectively move larger, heavier pieces of tooling. Other types of presses do not have this amount of force on retraction, and won’t be able to effectively pull heavy tooling away from the part after pressing.

Force and Depth

Some applications have to drive a part further than ½ inch with 20, 30, or 50 tons of force at full power. This is generally out of the scope for hydropneumatic presses that are often great alternatives to hydraulic. Within this range, a full hydraulic machine like our HP-Series Hydraulic Press would generally be recommended, though the ideal type of hydraulic press can vary based on the specifics of the process and the part.

Check out this 10-Ton Hydraulic press designed with a special electrical Dual Opto-Touch Control, with the ability to regulate force and distance at different steps of a multi-stage fastening process.

View the Case Study › 

Range of Pressing Applications

Hydraulic presses also offer some flexibility in terms of application use. Whereas many presses are better suited to consistently deliver on one precise set of operations, a hydraulic press can often serve a range of applications with varying required force. The force delivered by a hydraulic press is adjustable with precise control, and the longer stroke length can be applied to more complex jobs, like deep drawing, in addition to simpler applications. If you are running a flexible production where you need a press to perform multiple applications, hydraulic may be the best choice.

Finding the Right Press

The previous sections outline situations that are ideal for a hydraulic press. Outside of these requirements, you can likely make your process more efficient by utilizing alternatives to full hydraulic machinery. Hydropneumatic presses and pneumatic presses offer a variety of force levels, as well as many other advantages like speed of operation. Alternatives to a hydraulic press can provide energy savings, reduced maintenance costs, safer operation, and much more.

As you consider different types of presses for your process, it can be helpful to compare hydraulic, hydropneumatic, and pneumatic presses to see which would be the best for your project. It’s also helpful to find the right amount of force required for your press, otherwise you might be looking for a press that is overpowered, and will expend unnecessary energy.

The experts at Air-Hydraulics Incorporated can help you find factory presses that meet or exceed the needs of your process. Contact us today and tell us about your applications and we’ll walk through the best options we have available, answering any questions you may have to make sure you’re set up with the best press for your production.

3 Alternatives to Hydraulic Presses

Hydraulic presses are often the first choice that comes to mind when browsing press options for your factory or shop. However, many shop owners or managers might not be aware of the alternatives to hydraulic presses. There are many other types of presses to choose from, and a hydraulic press might not be your best option. Let’s take a look at some alternatives to hydraulic presses.

Why Choose a Hydraulic Press Alternative?

First, why choose an alternative to a hydraulic press? There are a few factors to consider.

  • Safety: Hydraulic presses can be operated safely, but they also have inherent hazards. Hydraulic presses are noisier than other types of presses, and sometimes require hearing protection when operating. Excessive heat, along with higher operating pressures could be a cause for concern. Lastly, they require high voltage electricity, so proper electrical installation must be taken into consideration when operating and maintaining hydraulic presses.
  • Cost: Hydraulic presses tend to be the largest investment for metal forming and assembly projects. Even though they exert a wide range of forces and stroke lengths, they sometimes tend to be overkill for the application or intended use. Opting for a hydraulic press without researching other options could often result in over investing for your production needs.
  • Maintenance: Hydraulic presses require more maintenance than many other presses. Without properly maintaining the seals, fluids, lubrication, motor, and other elements, the hydraulic press’ performance could deteriorate quickly over time and require expensive repairs, which result in production downtime. This not only increases the overall cost of your investment, but also requires additional time and energy needed to ensure that a hydraulic press is consistently maintained for adequate performance.

Wondering about alternatives to hydraulic presses?
Contact us to learn more about pneumatic and hydropneumatic presses

3 Alternatives to Hydraulic Presses

Pneumatic Press

While a hydraulic press uses compressed liquid to create force, a pneumatic press uses compressed air. Some of the strongest presses available are hydraulic presses, but these often exert far more force than necessary, and can actually damage your parts if they’re not sized correctly. Our pneumatic presses, also called air presses, can exert up to 5,000 lbs of force, and they don’t require a high-voltage power supply, like a hydraulic press does. However, a pneumatic press does require a source of compressed air to function.

When comparing pneumatic and hydraulic presses, it’s important to consider your applications and materials. Pneumatic presses are ideal for assembly, riveting, punching, and many other applications. Depending on your applications, it’s important to get the right amount of force for your press. This will help to ensure that your pneumatic press provides enough power, and ensure that you’re not overpaying for a hydraulic press with excessive force.

Hydropneumatic Presses

A hydropneumatic press, also called an air-over-oil press, uses a combination of compressed air and oil to create a great deal of force, often in the same range as most industrial hydraulic presses. For factories and shops that require a very powerful press, a hydropneumatic press is often a lower-cost, lower-maintenance alternative to hydraulic presses.

Hydropneumatic presses are similar to pneumatic presses in many ways. These machines both have similar maintenance requirements and safety features. Unlike hydraulic presses, hydropneumatic presses don’t require high-voltage power sources. They also aren’t as noisy as hydraulic presses, and are much less likely to cause hearing damage after consistent use. Compared to an air press, an air over oil press can be used for heavier applications like bushing and bearing insertion, stud insertion, swaging, and many similar operations.

Take a look at the two different hydropneumatic press options that are great alternatives to fully hydraulic equipment.

AH-Series Air Over Oil Presses with ½ in. Power Strokes

Most hydropneumatic presses only apply hydraulic intensified power within a half-in stroke. At Air Hydraulics, this would be our AH Series Hydropneumatic Presses that come in a range of 4 to 50 tons of force. These fast running and air efficient machines feature a rapid, low force approach stroke with a self-contained hydraulic intensified half-inch power stroke, making them great lower cost alternatives to full hydraulic for a range of forming and assembly applications like riveting, crimping, punching, swaging, joining and more.

Learn More About Our AH-Series Hydropneumatic Presses

C-Series Air Hydraulics Presses – Air Over Oil with Full Length Power Strokes

For heavier applications where full power is required at longer distances, our specially designed Air Hydraulics Presses, also referred to as our C-Series air over oil line offers something unique compared to any other hydropneumatic press on the market.

Air Hydraulics C-Series Presses offer a range of 2.5 to 15 tons of force, where pressure is maintained consistently throughout the entire stroke of the press cylinder. With a full length power stroke, these unique machines offer the convenience of pneumatic power with the force and performance on par with hydraulic machinery, making these presses the perfect lower cost, efficient hydraulic alternatives for bushing or bearing insertion, press fit, stud insertion and many other applications requiring full force at over half an inch in distance.

Air Hydraulics logoLearn More About Our Uniquely Designed
Air Hydraulics C-Series Air-Over-Oil Presses

 

Choosing an Alternative to a Hydraulic Press

Choosing the right factory press depends on your applications, materials, factory set-up, and other considerations. A hydraulic press is often a default choice for many shops, but this can result in overpaying in upfront costs and maintenance costs down the line.

Consider these alternatives to hydraulic presses and to learn more about any press or see which ones might be best for your operation, contact us. We are press experts, and we can help you find the right design for your shop.

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