Volume 16 | Issue 5 | Year 2013

Founded 68 years ago, Pacific Press Technologies is known for offering hydraulic metal forming equipment that is recognized throughout the world.
Also, the Mount Carmel, Ill.-based company, is known as a pioneer in the technology. Its firsts include: the first hydraulic press brakes and computer-controlled servo-hydraulic press for composite molding, and the world’s largest plate shear (G-Series 36 feet) capable of cutting one-and-a-half inch steel plates.

Today, Pacific Press Technologies manufactures hydraulic press working and metal fabricating equipment for US and international customers. Specifically, the company’s products include hydraulic press brakes, hydraulic presses, hydraulically-powered plate and sheet metal shears. It also provides parts and service, as well as preventive maintenance programs, troubleshooting, and repair services. Further, Pacific Press Technologies provides solutions for bending, shearing, forming, drawing, stamping, punching, and molding applications.

Technology Advantages
Hydraulic presses offer unique features (compared to mechanical presses), according to the company. Unlike mechanical presses, hydraulic presses deliver full force throughout the stroke. Rated force capacity of a mechanical press is only provided near the bottom of the stroke. The full force of a hydraulic press is delivered at any point in the stroke.

Also, deep drawing and forming applications often require large forces very high in the press stroke. Most mechanical presses do not develop enough force high in the downward stroke to allow drawing and forming applications like inverted draw dies to be used without the risk of press damage, explains the company. In a hydraulic press, the stroke can be adjusted to match the requirements of the job, with only enough stroke length being set to allow parts to clear. The result: faster cycling rates and greater throughput and reduced energy consumption.

Other advantages include built-in overload protection:

  • The force that a hydraulic press can exert is limited to the pressure applied to the total piston area (by relief valves). A mechanical press can exert several times the rated maximum force in the event of an accidental overload, often resulting in severe damage to the press and dies;
  • Mechanical presses often stick, resulting in part ejection failures or die setting errors;
  • Hydraulic presses incorporate more tooling safety features. The full force can be set to occur only at die closure.
  • Hydraulic presses have very few moving parts. However, most critical parts that do move are within pressurized oil – a built-in lubrication system.

Further, hydraulic technology features adjustable force capacities:

  • Mechanical presses with high force capacities are physically much larger than hydraulic presses. Few mechanical presses have been built with force capacities of 6,000 tons or more. Higher tonnages or more compact construction is practical in hydraulic presses, resulting in more cost-effective use of available plant space;
  • Hydraulic presses can be set to exert a maximum force of less than press capacity; and
  • Since the stroke length is fully adjustable, long stroke lengths make setup easier and offer greater flexibility for multiple applications on the same press. The full stroke may be used to open the press up for the installation of dies. In production, the stroke length can be set as short as possible to provide for stock feeding and part ejection while maximizing stroking rates.

Established in California
Pacific Press Technologies was founded in 1945, at the tail-end of World War II, when it developed the first-ever practical hydraulic press brake for the military effort. At the time, the company was located in Oakland, Calif. (hence, the “Pacific” part of its name), relates Director of Sales and Marketing Steve Schurman. “Two partners founded the company and soon realized they needed a larger facility to grow their business,” he adds. “That took them to Illinois and a plant that used to be a railroad repair facility. It was centrally located, had high bays, a 100-ton crane, and rail access.”

In the post-war environment, the company continued contributing to its nation’s technological development. Huge structures were needed to test rocket engines for a burgeoning aerospace industry. Pacific Press responded to the need by providing the first hydraulic press brakes that formed the assemblies used in these structures.

In subsequent years – during a period when hydraulic brakes began to be perceived as a safer, more versatile alternative to mechanical brakes – Pacific Press enjoyed rapid growth and continued contributing to the ongoing development of hydraulics that served industries engaged in forming and fabrication. The company, and its products, garnered a reputation for reliability and durability (many of its machines boasted a life span that extended beyond 40 years). “About a year ago, I got a call from a customer in Mexico,” recalls Schurman. “They had a machine purchased in 1952. The customer wanted to purchase another machine – and he wanted one exactly like his current machine. What we produced is still in operation. That reflects on our engineering talent, and the way that we build. What we offer is designed to run forever.”

That is one of the reasons why, today, with its broad range of metal-forming equipment, Pacific Press is the North American leader in hydraulic press brakes, shears and presses – manufacturing the broadest range of metal forming equipment available.

Current main operations (located in Mount Carmel, in a facility that measures about 130,000 square feet) offer considerable resources under one roof. These include:

  • Quality control;
  • Sales and contract administration;
  • A complete facility with all of the necessary equipment; and
  • Product and manufacturing engineering – as the company relates, designs are executed in AutoCAD®, Solid Works Finite Element Analysis, and manufacturing engineering and planning is computerized using BPCS Manufacturing Planning System.

Service extends beyond its facility walls, as the company offers extensive field service for installation and training. As far as quality and its control, Pacific Press enthusiastically embraces:

  • National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA) ICS-1970;
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) #79;
  • American Welding Society (AWS) “Specifications for Welding of Presses and Press Components” AWS DI4.5-80;
  • Joint Industry Council (JIC) EGP-1-1067;
  • Joint Industry Council (JIC) Hydraulic Standards;
  • American National Standard Institute ANSI B11.2; B11.3; B11.4;
  • Various military standards required by government contracts;
  • American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) materials specifications; and
  • American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) materials specifications.

As the facilities evolved, so did the company. Reports Schurman: “Back in the 1970s and 1980s, we were shipping 12 to 15 machines each month. But they were smaller machines, down to as low as 40 tons. We now ship fewer machines, but they are much larger – tonnage-wise – and much more specialized. Everything we do is built to order. We do a lot of custom work that other manufacturers can’t or won’t do. The complexity and size of machines have increased.

Schurman indicates that the company’s major clients and markets are in job shops, heavy fabrication, the steel power pole industry, construction, ship building and repair, truck trailer manufacturers, and the railroad industry, among others. “And our customer base extends throughout the world,” he says.

Another Differentiator
As Pacific Press provides upgrading and rebuilding, it offers its customers its PEP (Productivity Enhancement Program) program. This program translates into a cost-effective alternative to full machine replacement. As the company describes, it enables clients to bring an older press brake, plate shear, or hydraulic press “back to productive life.”

Adds Schurman: “PEP is about productivity enhancement. We can rebuild the hydraulics and electrical control and bring older machines up to current industry standards. Essentially, we’re providing clients with a ‘new’ machine that performs better than the old machine, but at a fraction of the cost.”

The program offers these advantages:

  • On-site refurbishing – The customers’ equipment doesn’t have to be refurbished at its Mount Carmel location. Work can be done on site, which means minimal disruption of client operation (an additional savings);
  • Pacific Press can handle virtually any manufacturer’s equipment (recently, the company has rebuilt Niagara, Verson, Cincinnati and similar hydraulic machines); and
  • Fast turnaround – depending on rebuild requirements, Pacific Press can typically finish the entire process in 12 to 14 weeks.

Further, once the PEP project is complete, Pacific Press will ensure – though stringent testing – that the machine functions properly and that workers are trained in its operation. Plus, a rebuilt machine will include all additional components required to meet current ANSI safety standards. All replacement parts are covered by Pacific’s general warranty.

Yet One More Differentiator
Pacific Press offers clients web-based pressroom calculators to calculate press brake bending force, hydraulic press draw force, and hydraulic press cycle rate.

As the company explains, the press brake bending force calculator finds the right tonnage to process a 90-degree air bend (other parameters are also given). The hydraulic press draw force calculator offers draw tonnage and total tonnage for circular and rectangular parts. The hydraulic press cycle rate calculator estimates the needed processing time, percent of time in each function, cycle rate in minutes or seconds, and cycles per minute for both circular and rectangular parts (two different charts are available).

Looking Ahead
Pacific Press (which has about 100 employees, depending on the workload), has faced the challenges of an increasingly global market, observes Schurman. “That means more competition,” he says.

Schurman describes how the company is responding: “We are always looking at new products, but now we’re also looking to increase our presence in the press market. Most of our business involves press brakes. We are seeking to increase our market in new product categories.”

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