Custom Test Press

harbour freight

There is a competition for the Engineering Expo at KU where they break small bridges and towers out of either macaroni or popsicle sticks. Stacking weights on top of them can become dangerous with the amount of weight needed for some of the projects. A 20 ton shop press from harbour freight was purchased. This can be picked up on sale for $149.99

Extra set of holes

An extra set of holes were layed out and drilled to extend the frames usable length. The steel loading cylinder was shortened with a band saw also.

Test press lower modified

An different steel frame was fabricated using 1” box tubing. This gives us about 3”+ more usable space. A 1/4” steel plate was used as a base overlay with 1” blocks to keep it centered.

Test Press Scales

2 scales were used with a steel plate for loading. this allows it to get a force readout by putting them in like. 660 pounds is the capacity with 2 scales.

Test Press Modification

The modified loading press give you 36”+ by 22 1/2” of usable space.

Load Cell Calibration

I ended up changing my mind on the scales. I decided adding a load cell would be a better option for us to get a force readout and increase the range.  This is a 5000 pound load cell being calibrated in a test press. It will be more than enough for the 1000 lb max we are expecting. I drilled a 29/64” hole and then tapped it with a 1/2-20 tap. The surface was faced with an endmill. Then screwed the load cell in. A force readout is given with a either a strain box or NI data acquisition system.


Load cell mounted into test press. This gives a total displacement available 37”

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