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Hydraulic press purchase?


#1

I’m considering purchasing a jewelry-sized hydraulic press, and
wondered what folks think is the cheapest one worth buying, and what
do you consider to be “must have” accessories to go with it?

Thanks!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
bethwicker.com


#2

Beth - you are embarking on a life changing purchase. Everything is
different when you have a really big hammer - a hydraulic press.

There are three major manufacturers of presses.

Kevin Potter - http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ld

Bonny Doon Engineering - sold thru Rio Grande
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/riobonnyboon

Shark bite press - I don’t know who makes it, sold by grafix on
etsy. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/lb

IMHO, you must have a pressure gauge on your hydraulic jack - it’s
the only way to repeat a process.

Your press needs to have the universal tool adapter threads in the
top platen. That allows you to use the many specialized tools
developed for the press. Bonny Doon is the primary maker of same and
Potter has several as well. As far as I can see, the shark bite folks
just have silhouette dies. Pancake dies need little clearance.

The distance between platens is important. If it is small, that
really limits what tools you can use, as well as how much you can
deform metal with the press. If you are going to ever do deep
drawing, get the Bonny Doon Mark III, it gives you 10" of clearance.

What matters in a press purchase is what you are going to use it for

  • now and in the future. Saving money is a good idea, it usually
    results in two purchases of press - the cheap one and then a good
    one. In any case, the purchase of a press is just the beginning, the
    accessories cost more than the press. Without dies, urethane foam,
    accessories - the press is just a big squeeze hammer.

Best idea - take a good workshop on using the press. It will give
you some on what you can do and how to do it. There are
literally dozens of these workshops available. Cynthia Eid and David
B Anderson are two of the really good teachers. Then you can make a
reasoned choice on a press. Read Susan Kingsleys book on "Hydraulic
Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths.

Judy Hoch


#3
I'm considering purchasing a jewelry-sized hydraulic press, and
wondered what folks think is the cheapest one worth buying, and
what do you consider to be "must have" accessories to go with it? 

Beth, I bought a 12 ton Harbor freight hydraulic press which works
well with my handmade dies. It is inexpensive and does the job for
me. That said I would love to be able to afford the Bonny Doon with
all the bells and whistles. Until then, I make my own dies out of
acrylic sheet and put a brass top on them to protect the dies. I use
a spiral wax blade to cut the dies by hand. I also use rubber pot
holders or flexible cake pans to push the metal into the dies since
urethane is so very expensive. I would suggest you get the book
"Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers" by Susan Kingsley. Good luck.

Roxan O’Brien
designsbyroxan.com


#4
I also use rubber pot holders or flexible cake pans to push the
metal into the dies since urethane is so very expensive. 

What a neat idea!

Years ago I got surplus/scrap urethane for a song, but now it’s aged
and hardened and I’m faced with buying the “real thing.”

The silicone pot holders – the only draw back would be that you
wouldn’t have the different durometers as you do with the purchased
urethane.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#5

I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. I haven’t put the
latest photoon my website yet, but it will be on my website and on
Otto Frei’s.

I have increased the height of my press frame to accommodate
standard height jacks as well as low-profile jacks. If you run a low
profile jack in the new tall frame, you would have plenty of room to
do a deep draw, as well as being able to put a die shoe in the
press. I started making this frame because the Royal Canadian Mint
commissioned me to make a press for their R&D department. They use
it to test dies. They need one that was a lot taller than what a
usually made.

Boony Doon’s tooling and Potter USA tooling are completely
interchangeable.

I designed my tooling to fit their press, and my press will take
their tooling.

As far as a gauge is concerned, my frame will take any jack on the
market, so if you want a jack that has a gauge port, that is not a
problem. If you want to us an inexpensive bottle jack, that will
work well too. You can always upgrade when finances allow. I designed
a torque handle to help you gauge how much pressure you are putting
on the jack. it’s a modified torque wrench. 10 ft pounds of pressure
on the handle gives you 1,000psi at the jack. This will allow you to
get repeatable results without a gauge.

Kevin Potter
www.potterusa.com


#6
The silicone pot holders -- the only draw back would be that you
wouldn't have the different durometers as you do with the
purchased urethane. 

That is neither the only, nor the major drawback. Urethane is
somewhat unusual for such materials in that although it’s seemingly
soft and elastic, it is not compressable. In other words, you put
pressure on it, and it’s volume does not change. Just like water or
hydraulic fluid, etc. Silicone is more spongy. If, for example, you
had a cylendar shaped plug of both silicone and urethane, each an
exact fit to a similar container except for being just a little too
high, and you wanted to cram it in anyway, and get the lid on…

With sponge or foam rubber, of course, you could do it easily. With
silicone rubber it would be harder, but you could do it. The stuff
would compress enough to fit in the container. The urethane, by
contrast, will not.

What this means for a press is that with contained vessels holding
rubber and a die, and a well fitted pusher (just as one common setup)
pressure on the pusher will give the urethane no other option but to
flow up into the volume of the die, pushing the metal with it, and
transferring the full pressure of the press up into that volume.
While the silicone will also seem to do this, it won’t do it to the
same degree, since as the pressure increases, some of that force
will simply compress the silicone further instead of causing it to
flow up into the die. In short, you loose much of the advantage of
the enclosed die, and the pressure exerted on the metal by the
silicone rubber will not be at all what you’d get with urethane, so
you get less detail.

Use the cheap rubber if you like. For some uses, where you don’t
have a contained space, for example, it may work almost as well. But
there’s a real reason why the higher cost urethane die rubbers are
used. They work better, and differently, and maximize the potential
of the press.

If you cannot afford the urethane, but still need good detail, you
may wish to explore making actual two part dies, that is both male
and female die parts or rigid material. This is, of course, how most
die forming is done in industry, where a steel die set consists of
both halves forming the shape from both sides, rather than just one,
relying on urethane to form itself to the other half. While formal
die making from steel may be beyond the skills of many who are not
trained in it, making a two part die from, say, liquid steel (epoxy
filled with steel powder) or similar products, is not that hard, and
for small production runs, they work reasonably well.

Peter Rowe


#7
The silicone pot holders -- the only draw back would be that you
wouldn't have the different durometers as you do with the
purchased urethane. 

There are several good reasons to use urethane rather than other
elastomers. Urethane is less compressible and more durable than most
elastomers. Many elastomers will disintegrate if you try to use them
at higher pressures but at lower pressures they can be used but with
much lower life times and less efficiency than if urethane is used.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#8
Your press needs to have the universal tool adapter threads in the
top platen. That allows you to use the many specialized tools
developed for the press. 

We just made an inexpensive Hydraulic press at school. I don’t know
what a universal tool adapter thread is? Is it possible to add that
to a homemade version and if so, would that make it possible to
retrofit some of the items being sold by Bonny Doon/Potter? Where
does one buy such a thing?

Thanks,
Jennifer


#9

There are lots of posts archived about presses and I don’t feel like
getting lengthy about it now. One thing I tell people new to the
whole process is that if you buy one of the inexpensive
’automotive/shop’ hydraulic presses, you should get one with plenty
of headroom so that you’re not using it for lots of cycles near it’s
capacity. In other words, don’t get the cheapest 20 ton from Harbor
Freight and work it to 20 tons all the time or you’ll probably kill
it. I’ve been steering people who don’t feel like they can fork for a
BD or a Potter over to Northern Tool Co.

Anyway, the well-made point about urethane is important because
having just one hardness of ‘rubber’ to work with really can be
limiting. I’ve got all kinds for different uses; from the squishy
stuff through all the urethanes, and on into solid plastics like
polyethylene, nylon, delrin, and lexan. Obviously you can’t get any
real depth with solid plastic unless you make a 3D mold, but where it
comes in for me is with dies that blank a part and emboss designs
into it in the same pressing. These are mostly wire and dot designs,
made by soldering round wire and round shots onto the surface of the
pancake die. Urethane is often too soft to make the metal pick up
fine detail, and it can offer little enough backing (because it’s
very squishy under pressure) so that the pancake die doesn’t close
all the way, which means the part doesn’t get fully cut. Solid
plastic - some of which can also be fairly squshy at say, 40 tons- is
the perfect solution in some cases. It’s soft enough to facilitate
embossing, and hard enough to make the metal capture detail, and
solid enough to support the die for blanking.

Dar
sheltech.net


#10
We just made an inexpensive Hydraulic press at school. I don't
know what a universal tool adapter thread is? Is it possible to add
that to a homemade version and if so, would that make it possible
to retrofit some of the items being sold by Bonny Doon/Potter?
Where does one buy such a thing? 

I can make you an adapter to attach to the top of your press so you
can use either my tooling or Bonny Doon’s tooling. It is a 1" thick
plate with a 1" hole through it and then 2 holes on either side of
it that botls into the uppper platen.

If you have the ability to drill a 1" hole through your upper platen,
you are good to go. If not, it’s pretty easy to drill some 3/8" holes
with just a hand drill and then you can bolt on the adapter. The
adapter will allow you to use the bracelet former, mushroom formers
as well as any other tooling you can dream up that has a 1" shank, as
long as you have enough room between the platens.

Kevin
www.potterusa.com