A hydraulic forging press is a forge that uses compressive force to shape a work piece. There are many types of forges available, and many materials can be forged using hydraulics. One difference between a hydraulic forging press and a mechanical forge is a hydraulic press often can exert slow compressive forces in addition to burst impacts. Hydraulic forging methods can include drawn out, upset and closed compression. This range of supported tasks means both professionals and hobbyists can use hydraulic forges.
Hydraulic forging presses often are identified by the type of forging done, the size and the power of a machine. Despite the many variations, many of these types of forging still rely on the concept of the hammer and anvil. Roll forging and open die forging hydraulic presses, for instance, are often used in factories and hobbyist workshops. Additionally, hot and cold presses can be used to work temperature-sensitive metals. As hydraulic pressure increases, the types of metals, temperatures and products possible can change.
Iron, steel and aluminum are commonly shaped using a hydraulic forging press. Some machines might support multiple materials, while others might be designed for specific materials or alloys. Hydraulic forging methods also are used to shape specialized metal such as titanium. Some machines might be designed to minimize waste in the case of rare or expensive metals. While metal has been shaped for centuries using a hammer and anvil, hydraulic presses offer unique opportunities for working these materials.
In general, a hydraulic forging press might be used to perform any of the major forging tasks. This can include drawing out metals by increasing the length of a work piece while reducing the width or upsetting the work piece by decreasing the length and increasing the width. Closed compression forging might be used to form an inconsistent shape, such as in a decorative statue. Separate forging dies or different machines often are needed to perform these tasks.
The versatility of the hydraulic forging press means it is often used in both professional- and hobbyist-scale forging. Professional machines tend to be larger, depending on the product or products being sold. These machines can increase quickly in size and weight and may be capable of heavy-duty tasks such as producing metal building supports. A consumer or hobbyist hydraulic forging press might be used to make small blades, figurines or functional metal work pieces. Machines used for these tasks are often compact, though still capable of exerting sufficient hydraulic forces.