I want to make jewelry with volume. What hydaulic press is affordable for a beginner and will work for jewelry making?
I have lots to say about this topic and have worked with the hydraulic
press to do small scale production for 15 years. I would love to help any
way I can, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please reference any prior correspondence in replying to me, thank you.
My mailing address;
Patania Sterling Silver Originals
1830 E. Broadway, Ste. 124-204
Tucson, AZ 85719
245 S. Plumer, Commerce Plaza, #39
The usual answer is that it depends on two things: 1) your budget, and 2) what you want to do with it. (And in this case, I’d say the usual answer is valid.)
I would say don’t get anything smaller than a 20-ton press. That’s the size that’s most common anyway, so not a hard thing to do.
If you want a pressure gauge, find out if there is one, or can you add one to the jack (not only if it is possible, but is it something you, personally, can do, want to do, or know someone who can do it for you).
I don’t have a gauge on mine (a medium PotterUSA) but I don’t do a lot of production work so I’m fine with learning and paying attention to the ‘feel’ of the pressure. A gauge is very helpful if you are planning to do a lot of the same thing, or want to do some serious testing and need the specifics a gauge can give you (that last is a reason a gauge is on my want list).
There’s also the clearance issue. How deep of a clearance will you need to make the things you want to make? My medium PotterUSA is fine for matrix dies (aka Silhouette dies), pancake dies (aka blanking dies), and other things that aren’t particularly deep.
(Remember to measure the depth of whatever pushers you may be using in addition to the dies, etc., themselves and urethane.)
This was a pricey lesson for me: I bought a beautiful set of Durston mushroom formers for use in a hydraulic press and, you guessed it, they are too big to use in my press. So measure.
The top brands (imo) are Bonny Doon and Durston, with PotterUSA fulfilling a lot of the less-expensive but highly popular market. Mine’s a medium size and has been (mostly – see above) just fine for what I do.
They all offer different sizes, so make sure the one you get will do what you want to do now, and possibly in the future.
(And if you really want to get into using a hydraulic press, be sure to get Susan Kingsley’s book, AND download the Urethane handout that’s on Cynthia Eid’s website under the drop-down Handouts tab at the top.)
You can also build one, but that’s not my thing, so others will have to chime in on that.
Before you buy a press, take a class about using the press. Get the book - Hydraulic Die Forming for artists - Kingsley. for an introduction to the process and techniques. The money you spend on a press is about 25% of what you need to make one useful - The tools available range from anticlastic bracelet forms, urethane pads, dies, deep draw, pancake dies, - Rio Grande has many of these and good videos on using them.
I’ve used a hydraulic press in production for 20 some years.
A few thoughts from low tech/low cost concerns. The most critical item is to determine what you want the press for. I use mine primarily for the production of the cases for mezzuzot. The amount of volume I need is not great , about 3/8-1/2" deep. I use it for limited jewelry items, particularly a two-piece perfume bottle. My use is 2-300 impressions a year.
That said I have little invested in the item. I bought a used press with a 7 ton jack. Had plates welded on for the jack and the base. I use inner tube to compress through my dies. Dies are cut from 1/2" plexiglass sheet, purchased from McMaster Carr (great store). On some pieces where I know I will use them repeatedly I have aluminum des cut by a local machine shop (also 1/2" deep).
The press I use costs about $100 on Amazon. Perfect for me.
Of ciritcal import is that it is bolted onto a small counter. Won’t move. Always consider safety.
My thought on make your own and buying a cheap press. Think Safety! When things come apart under
pressure it gets real exciting. I use a Bonny Doon 20 ton press but there are other quality units out there.
Love my Potter!