2 Aug 2017

How to use an Automatic Hydraulic Press | Spectroscopy Guides

This is a brief guide to the basics of using an automatic hydraulic press; namely the Specac Atlas Autotouch Press, often used for KBr pellet preparation, XRF sample preparation and FTIR sample pressing, along with other applications.

How to use an automatic hydraulic press. Automatic pellet presses offer safe loads and repeatability.

Basic guide: How to use an Automatic Hydraulic Press

Follow these basic steps when using the Autotouch Automatic Hydraulic Press. Read the Autotouch user manual for more detailed information. Please refer to the touchscreen operation symbol guide further down this page, for reference.

  1. Raise the front safety guard and place the die to be pressed centrally on the lower bolster pressing face.

    For the Autotouch Press, The safety guard must be kept closed at all times when work (usually a die set) is being pressed. The concentric rings engraved onto the face of the lower pressing surface can be used as a guide.

    The Autotouch Press should display the below screen until the safetey guard is closed, preventing any press function taking place.

    Autotouch-Press-Close-Guard.jpg

  2. Lower lead screw anvil onto piston face, by turning the lead screw handle clockwise, and lower guard.

    At this point the user must be confident that the item is central so that when the press is started, that the lead screw anvil will be in suitable contact with the work to be pressed.

    For example it must not be on the edge of the work and so potentially lead to uneven loads which may cause damage to the item being pressed and damage to the press itself. If the work was to slip while under load leading to sudden and unexpected load loss; this could potentially lead to a hazardous situation.
  3. Set the load using the Display Screen.

    Once the sample is correctly positioned and the safety guard has been closed, it is time to review the current press settings on the display screen (below). 

    how to use an automatic hydraulic press

    In the left-hand section of the display screen, the currently applied load (0.0 tons) will be shown, along with indicators for the currently selected program (PZ), current program segment (S:1), and status (OK).

    In the right-hand section of the display screen, the program steps for the currently selected program are shown. The details shown here are for the default ‘PZ’ program which allows straightforward control of the “Pump up to” load only. 
    The maximum load applied by the PZ program can be adjusted by pressing the  button on the display screen. The Display Screen changes to show a Display Screen environment for the setting of a load to apply, which has a slide scale load indicator with the lower (left side green box) and upper (right side green box) load range limits that can be set for the press and a vertical line cursor position on the slide scale corresponding to the current “Pump up to” load value set on the loaded program.


    automatic-hydraulic-press-change-load.jpg

    Once you are happy with the displayed program settings, and the status symbol reads ‘OK’, press the Start button on the front panel of the press to begin the press cycle.

    When the safety guard is closed and the start button has been pressed, the press motor will start and the Display Screen will show a status of “Load Rising” in red text and the "(OK)" status box changes to "(Run)". The “Pump up to [load value]" will be illuminated. The "Applied Load" value (top left of the screen) will change from 0.0 and rise in value as the “Pump up to” load takes effect.

    Load-being-applied-to-automatic-press.jpg

    When the full load has been applied, the press motor stops running and illumination of the “Pump up to [load value]" first program step statement will cease.

    The "(Run)" status message remains showing in the blue screen box, but the “Maintain load” symbol and statement with an auto “top up” capability will now illuminate, as the second segment step of the program sequence has been reached and the first segment symbol and statement is removed. Segment of the program changes to in the blue screen box and a “Maintaining Load” status is shown in red text.



    At this stage in the program sequence a green background display box is presented, but only for the "Increase Load" symbol (ramp/triangle), which can be pressed for an increase change to the “Pump up to [load to]" set if desired.

  4. Release the load, remove work from press.

    When the load has been held for the required duration, release it by pressing the stop button (the other silver button beneath the touchscreen).

    The “Maintain load” symbol will cease illumination and the Display Screen (4) will now show illumination of the “Fast rel to” load value, symbol and statement and a message “Fast Release” in red text is shown underneath the Applied Load Indicator and load value.

    When the applied load has been fully released and the program steps have been completed, the Display Screen will revert to the same status as the original mode, before the start button had been pressed. At this stage the second segment for the “Maintain load” symbol and statement has disappeared from view as the program sequence for the individual segment steps begin scrolling upwards from the Display Screen area.

  5. Accessing other programs from the Display Screen

    In addition to the default ‘PZ’ program, the user may select from up to 6 previously defined programs in the program directory.

    These programs are defined by the user. Each can contain up to 10 segments, including “Pump up to” loads, load hold times (0.1 to 99.9 minutes, or until commanded using the Stop button), and release load rates (fast, medium, or slow).


    Once programs have been defined, they are accessible from the main display screen by pressing the 'Dir' button. The currently selected program will be shown in the status area of the display screen (e.g. P:4).

Operation symbols for the Autotouch

Increase Load – Increase of a load to the tonnage load set. (Measured in Tons, Tonnes, US Tons, KgF or KNewtons.) 
Maintain Load – Maintains a set load for a particular time interval. Auto “top up” of a load is applied if a set load value reduces over the particular time period.
Hold Load – Holds a set load for a particular time interval. No auto “top up” function of the load is applied as with Maintain Load, if the set load decreases.
Fast/Medium/Slow Load Release Rate – General symbol for the three load release rate functions. 
Fast Load Release Rate – Quickest release of a load to a lower set load value. (Measured in Tons, Tonnes US Tons, KGF or KNewtons). 
Medium Load Release Rate – Slower release of a load to a lower set load value. (Measured in Tons, Tonnes US Tons, KGF or KNewtons). 
Slow Load Release Rate – Slowest release of a load to a lower set load value. (Measured in Tons, Tonnes US Tons, KGF or KNewtons). 
Safety Guard – Front Safety Guard is open when illuminated. 
Program Number In Operation – e.g. P1, when illuminated, means program one is active. 
Program Number Step Forward – to move forward to a higher program number in a program directory listing. 
Program Number Step Backward – to move backwards to a lower program number in a program directory listing. 
Segment Number of a Program Sequence In Operation – e.g. S1 when illuminated means the first segment of the program is active. 
Segment Number Step Forward – to move forward to a higher segment number in a program sequence.
Segment Number Step Backward – to move backwards to a lower segment number in a program sequence. 
Program Symbol – To select the Program Display Screen operation environment. 
Directory Symbol – To select the Directory Display Screen operation environment.
Edit Symbol – To select Editing Display Screen operation environment or edit a segment in a stored program.
Options Symbol – To select the Option Display Screen operation environment. 
Exit Symbol – Exit from a particular Display Screen operating environment back to the Main Operation Screen. (MOS). 
Add Symbol – To add a segment step in a stored program under the Edit operation environment. 
Delete Symbol – To delete a segment step in a stored program under the Edit operation environment. 
ok Symbol – Can re-start the press for application of a load from this point when illuminated, although the piston may not have fully retracted.
OK Symbol – The ok changes to OK after a time period of 30 seconds. Can restart the press for application of a load from this point when illuminated, and time has been allowed for greater retraction of the piston to its start position.
Run Symbol – Illuminates when a program sequence is running. 
End Stop Symbol – The End Stop step as the final segment in a program.
Step Back Symbol – Used to step back from inclusion or change of a Fast, Medium or Slow Load Release Rate function in a program segment.
Cross Symbol – Used to reject any changes made in a programming sequence.
Tick Symbol – Used to save any changes made in a programming sequence. 

If you need to contact Specac regarding a service or repair issue relating to an Atlas™ Autotouch Hydraulic Press, please be as specific as possible and quote the serial number for the press. Any information about how long the press has been in use and the nature of its application will also be greatly useful to the Technical Support Team: techsupport@specac.co.uk

The Autotouch Hydraulic Press is one of Specac's most popular pieces of sample preparation equipment for XRF, FTIR and other analysis techniques. Its durability and consistency makes it an analyst's favourite. The touchscreen and programmable loads means novices can press samples without in-depth knowledge. The press works best with Specac's Evacuable Pellet Dies

For more information on sample preparation: