Manufacturer of Hydraulic Presses

Should You Buy a New Hydraulic Press, Rebuild It or Retrofit It?

March 24, 2016

Money drives commerce, but it’s not wise to spread it around too freely. The more work you can get from your current presses, the less money you need to shell out on new equipment. But it can be difficult to decide what is most cost-effective for your machine shop: retrofit, rebuild, or buy new?

Here is a look at the points you should look at before choosing your approach.

What Is the Difference?

Retrofits and rebuilds are both ways of updating old equipment, but the focus is different for each. Here is an overview.

Retrofits deal with updating old hydraulic presses with modern technology. This can make them faster, more precise and easier to operate. For example, updating an old press to current ANSI standards adds safety for the operator.

Rebuilds deal with press systems that are wearing out from use and age. A typical rebuild is replacing worn out platen guides and slides with new ones.

What You Can Rebuild?

Rebuilding parts of an older hydraulic press give it added life and usefulness. Much like a car, components in hydraulic presses deteriorate over time due to continuous use and from old age. Many parts can be reconditioned and replaced to give the machinery more years of effective use.

One common rebuild is replacing an old system of pipes and valves with a newer manifold system that is much easier to troubleshoot and fix. Another is rebuilding old cylinders and replacing old wiring. Over time, parts need updating or replacing. The new components make the press operate more efficiently and often faster.

Simply refinishing the press by taking off the old surface and completely repainting it can make it look sharper. It gets rid of slivers and pieces of the finish that can cause problems with the equipment. Another way to update is by using new ring seals to replace pipe thread systems.

Sometimes a press needs the press motor and pumps rebuilt. Depending on the age and power of the press, it can often be cost-effective to do a complete overhaul.

What Can You Retrofit?

Older presses, even those bought a decade ago, are out of date. Newer presses run faster, are more precise and are often safer. Any time you can improve speed, accuracy and safety, you benefit the operator and the workflow.

Hydraulic presses can be retrofitted by adding speed controls for working with materials that are hard to form. It also increases cycle rates. Controls for closed-loop pressure and distance are also helpful. Every type of retrofit that adds to the precision and repeatability of a press adds to its value.

Robotics and feeders have rapidly become essential in the newest presses. Upgrading older ones with these capabilities can increase the range of jobs you accept. Touchscreen control with the added ability to store recipes helps operators keep on top of how the machine is functioning.

How Does This Help a Shop?

The most obvious benefit of retrofitting and rebuilding is the money saved. Instead of a major outlay of cash on a new hydraulic press, it can spend smaller amounts to get added use from current equipment.

In addition, it increases the speed that jobs flow through the shop, allows a company to accept more complicated jobs and increases operator safety and efficiency. At the end of the day, these too end up saving the machine shop money.

The slower cycle times on older presses results in slower workflow, quality on finished jobs that is inconsistent, and the resulting wastage and time and labor for redoing low-quality work.

For example, retrofitting with a newer programmable logic controller can give a press a big boost in efficiency. These old control panels update the operator on how the press is doing at a much slower rate than modern ones. In addition, he has to re-enter the instructions manually for every single job. This adds to the probability that errors will occur.

When it comes to rebuilding, refurbishing older mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems can add years of life to a press. Think of older cars or a home with an old wiring system. Age doesn’t make them unusable. But you need to plan for the normal deterioration from age and use.

Is It Always Cost-Effective?

No. At some point, every hydraulic press has reached its economic end of the line for retrofitting and rebuilding. It makes no sense to spend good money on a fix that produces no appreciable return for your shop.

When that point comes, call the experts at RK Manufacturing, maker of high-quality hydraulic presses since 1980. We have a reputation for superior performance, durability and customer support. We are experts in customizing presses to the exact needs of your shop.

When you have questions about buying a new press, our team of professionals is happy to answer your questions. Call for a free, no-obligation quote. Contact us.