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Automating the Metal Forming Press Process

Various types of metal forming machines are used in manufacturing. They range in speed and power, which is usually measured in Tons of force. There are hydraulic, crank style flywheel and servo presses. We are not here to discuss which press is used for what process and material, but more so for the controls involved. As you can imagine, this is a dangerous machine if the control system is not up to specification. These machines are usually built very well and most outlast the control system. The operation requires an operator to reach into the machine and place a piece of metal into a forming die which will be pressed under a range of 50+ Tons of force. Implementing an up-to-date proper two hand control and area safety sensor should be a priority to minimize risk and down time. To increase throughput and yield, one would want to integrate automatic feeders and sequence control to reduce the amount of stops. This would increase production and reduce wear on the brakes and clutches. A mechanical flywheel press following main setpoint and additional functionalities typically need the following:

  • Main drive control mechanical press with positioning feedback

  • Brake angle calculation

  • Stroke counter

  • Cam controller

  • Die protection

  • Tonnage monitoring

  • Machine data handling

  • Die data handling

A properly designed control system would utilize every critical control variable to ensure finite operation and safety, preventing damage to expensive dies.

Additionally, a control system is only as affective as the user interface is easy to read.

A hardware design could look something like this:

There are standards available for automation of crank style press using the latest technology.


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