Hydraulic presses are great tools in the manufacturing and testing industries. Used for everything from crushing cars to preparing laboratory samples for analysis, they provide a huge amount of power when it’s needed. Plus, there’s something undeniably satisfying about watching a log get squished into wood pulp.

Whether you’re curious about presses for YouTube entertainment purposes or as part of a manufacturing line, knowing more about them is a good idea. Read on to learn about how a hydraulic press works and what gives it its power.

Basics of Pascal’s Law

Unless you were a science major in college, you’ve probably never heard of Pascal’s Law. You might think it refers to the cute chameleon in Disney’s Tangled, but it actually takes its name from Blaise Pascal. He was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and theologian in the 17th century.

In basic terms, Pascal’s law says that if you push on a contained liquid, that force will get transmitted through the liquid to whatever’s on the other end. Unlike the laundry you’ve been putting off, liquid (namely water) will not compress if you push on it. So as long as the water doesn’t have anywhere to go, it will transmit any force you put on it through to the other end. 

The Pieces of a Press

Hydraulic presses have a few basic parts that help translate Pascal’s Law into a machine that’s very good at squishing things. First of all, you have the tube or tubes that hold the water that provides the machine’s force. These have to be completely sealed off in order for the machine to work correctly. 

Other than the tubes where the water runs, hydraulic presses generally also have plates where the objects to be pressed get squished. Then there are the pistons that move the water back and forth on the press. The details on what all these parts look like depend on what kind of press it is, which we’ll discuss more later.

How the Press Works

In essence, a hydraulic press uses the principles of Pascal’s Law to apply incredible force to an object. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re wanting to flatten a bowling ball. You place the ball on the press plate and turn on the press.

When you turn the press on, water will move down a long, thin tube into a wider chamber that aligns with one of the press plates. As the piston goes down, the water distributes that force evenly across the entire surface of the press plate. Water can’t compress, so it translates into immense, unstoppable force on the object being pressed.

If you haven’t ever watched a video of a hydraulic press in action, it’s worth checking some out. These presses can easily squish a bowling ball, twenty-one batteries, light fixtures, and other (smaller) hydraulic presses. While a whole video culture has spun up around putting various things into hydraulic presses, they are useful in commercial applications, too.

Applications of a Hydraulic Press

Besides their uses in squishing the seemingly unsquishable, hydraulic presses are important in a wide variety of manufacturing and testing. In laboratories, they’re used to put samples into pellets or thin sheets for testing. This helps make sure the sample is consistent throughout since everything is all mushed together.

Hydraulic presses can also be used to pull on items for tension testing. The same properties that make them so inexorable at squishing things make them equally powerful for pulling them apart. You can also use a hydraulic press to crush a car into a cube for melting or other demolition.

Different Type of Presses

There are a number of different types of hydraulic presses that are used for a wide variety of applications. Arbor presses aren’t very powerful and are helpful in stamping, tearing, piercing, flattening, or inscribing metals. A laminating press uses hydraulics to laminate paper, including ID cards and the like.

Pneumatic presses show up more often in factories, and they’re used to assemble, draw metal, or punch things out. Assembly presses, as the name suggests, help to put things together. Then there are pellet presses, which create the pellets we mentioned earlier for laboratory tests.

Benefits of a Hydraulic Press

When it comes to a mechanical press, at some point, you’re relying on the strength of the press materials to fight against the strength of whatever you’re pressing. Imagine trying to lift a lever to squish a piece of three-inch steel bar. You’d be more likely to break the lever before you ever did any damage to the bar. 

With hydraulic presses, you’re using the immutable physical properties of water to do the work for you. Water will not compress, no matter what, so it wins every contest in pressing. It is both the unstoppable force and the immovable object, and it provides a huge amount of power potential.

Get the Best Hydraulics Information

Hydraulic presses are amazing for a whole variety of manufacturing uses. There are presses to suit any need, and if you need something shaped, a hydraulic press will get it done. And if you’re on the fence about buying a press, imagine taking that piece of machinery that won’t work the way it’s supposed to and crushing it into a pancake.

If you’re looking for the best hydraulic press information on the internet, look no further than us at RG Group. We have resources about all things hydraulic, as well as engineering and manufacturing. Check out our bank of hydraulics articles today.