Buying an Ironworker should be an easy process, and it is if you know what to look for. Although there are many options in machine makes and models there are a few brands that are set apart by design and simplicity of operation. Of these leaders in Ironworkers there are still many models with prices ranging widely. Out of these there are a few specifications and items that you should give sincere consideration too for your operation

Specific Ironworker Tools and Functions to Look For

Size: Choosing the right sized Ironworker is more critical then choosing the right brand. While there are many options in sizes each manufacturer will rate their Ironworkers by Tonnage. The tonnage of the machine denotes the thickness and capacity overall of the material it most suited for.  As an example if you mostly deal in small angle iron, brackets and the sort out of ¼” 7 or 10 Gage Mild Steel then a 50 Ton machine is likely all you need. However if you are working with some ½” spacers, 3/8” plate and punching larger holes than you may want to look at a 65 or even a 90 ton option. Make sure the tonnage / capacity of the Ironworker is right for your application so make sure you look at ALL the manufacturers specifications (not just punching) before you decide the right size / capacity / tonnage ironworker that's right for you. 

Weight: While the weight of a machine tool is not, in and of itself, a critical factor it is an indicator of the rigidity and strength built into the machine. Weight can be increased by several factors but the most common factor would be the frame and ram of the machine. These items, when increased in size add a factor of rigidity and thus longevity to the design.

Capability: Ironworker machines differ in core capabilities without having to purchase a myriad of options.  The basic options you will need are punching, shearing plate, shearing angle, shearing rod/bar and notching. These will be tasks that most fabricators will repeat on a daily basis. Other features may be plate bending, tube/bar bending, channel shears, oversized punches, gang punching and many other features. The more capabilities available on your Ironworker the better.

Even Pass Height: The ‘Pass Height’ or working height of the machine is the height at which material is fed into the machine to be processed. The higher or lower, the pass height is then the comfortable working area, the more difficult it is to handle materials being fed into the machine for processing. Further is long stock is being used then multiple roller tables, work stands etc may be required.  A quality ironworker design will have the pass height area of the machine consistent across all operations for a simple single height work/support table. 

Automate: Just like every other machining process today there are a variety of ways your ironworker can be automated. From automatic or programmable backgages to positioning systems for punching , the standard ironworker can be equipped with simple add-on programmable devices to improve your capabilities in repeat operations, or be purchased with sophisticated CNC controls from the manufacturer.

Single or Dual Operator?: Most every manufacturer of Ironworkers today produces a variant of their machines to allow for one, or two operators to use the machine at once. Using the same hydraulic source the ram of the punching mechanism is separated from the mechanics of the shear and notching areas. With the right application these “Dual Operator” machines can be production powerhouses allowing for non stop punching while all the other features of the ironworker are available for other uses. Determining if a Dual Operator Ironworker is right for you is an easy one if you can envision it being used all day. 

Inspecting a Used Ironworker

Inspecting and Ironworker, like any other machine. Is a fairly simple process if you follow the basics outlined in our Inspecting Machinery Checklist linked HERE. This critical guide gives you pointers on what to look AT and FOR when inspecting machinery especially the way and lubrication system.

Where to Get Ironworker Tools

Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales is a great resource for both new and used Ironworkers, Ironworker accessories and Attachments. We specialize in Fabricating Machinery and can help you select the right attachments and accessories for your application. Call us today at 813-444-4555 or visit us on the web at