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Illustration of a lab press
Credit: Lab Manager

Purchasing Guide: Presses

Pressures are used to form a wide range of samples, pellets, and test specimens in the lab

by Lab Manager
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Pressures are used to form a wide range of samples, pellets, and test specimens in the lab. Presses use a combination of pressure and heat to melt powdered material and compress it into the shape and size needed for the lab application. Lab presses can be floor or benchtop units, can generate from 15 to upwards of 100 tons of compressive force, and have heated platens that can range from 600°F to 1200°F. Lab presses are used over a wide range of applications, including polymers, composites, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals. For a list of laboratory press manufacturers, see our online directory:

7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Lab Press:

  1. How much pressure is needed?
  2. What temperature range is needed?
  3. What size platens are needed?
  4. Is computer control important?
  5. How long will temperature need to be held?
  6. How precisely does temperature need to be controlled?
  7. Does a benchtop or floor press work best for your application and space?

Safety Tip

Emergency stops (e-stops) are a vital safety feature of lab presses. Regularly test the e-stop to ensure that it is always operational and ensure that it is easily reached by all members of your lab. Additionally, regularly conducting training with the e-stop will help staff build up the muscle memory to instinctively hit it in the case of an incident.

Maintenance Tip

It’s important to regularly inspect your lab press, specifically the hydraulics, hoses, and fluid levels. Leaks can cause loss of pressure and potentially contaminate the lab, and degraded hoses can suddenly fail during operation and cause serious injury. Regular visual inspections are key to foreseeing any malfunctions.