Here is the best information on workbenches on the internet.
You will learn:
- What is a Workbench?
- How are Workbenches Used?
- What is the Design of a Workbench?
- Types of Workbenches
- And much more …
Chapter One – What is a Workbench?
A workbench is a sturdy flat, smooth, molded surface that comes in a variety of sizes designed for specific tasks. They can be very complex for engineering design work, complicated machining, and intricate precision tooling or be a highly finished wood table for woodworking, metal work, and project design.
Well-constructed workbenches have strong supports that can handle jobs requiring the use of heavy tools and machinery. Manufacturing and production workbenches are referred to as workstations. Though there is a great deal of similarity between workbenches and workstations, workbenches tend to have a larger area and are used for a wider variety of activities, while workstations are normally a part of a production or assembly operation.
The workbench below, from Bench Depot, is multifunctional with lighting, storage space for small parts, leveling guides, and other special features.
The traditional workbench, of decades ago, has been replaced by sophisticated designs constructed of stainless steel, aluminum, and steel with finished flat surfaces for ease of cleaning and workspace management.
Chapter Two – How are Workbenches Used?
Workbenches are very versatile tools that have multiple applications and are used differently depending on their purpose. They are a critical part of assembly and production operations, where they provide a convenient solid workspace.
Uses for a Workbench
The first major function of a workbench is to support applications that involve large tools. Industrial workbenches are used for finishing, assembly, and component repair. The majority of heavy duty industrial workbenches are capable of holding 750 kg (over 1600 lbs). and are designed to support heavy tools and equipment, as can be seen in the image below.
In an industrial setting, all equipment must be able to withstand hard use and the demands of manufacturing. This includes workbenches. The work surface has to be thick and covered with a protective material, such as a coating of resin or Formica. They have to be resistant to chemical spills, harsh solvents, oil, and alcohol.
The steel frame workbench, below, is an example of a sturdy well-constructed workbench for industrial use.
All manufacturers do frequent tests of their products to determine the products stability, performance, and quality. These necessary tests have to be performed away from production at specially designed workbenches, as seen in the image below, which is designed for the testing of electronics.
Assembly workbenches have to be designed to fit into the flow of production. In most cases, they have to be specially engineered. A key factor for assembly workbenches is the comfort of employees. Ergonomic configurations keep employees comfortable and keep production flowing. Most assembly workbenches have shelves and cubbies for easy access to parts and components.
The delicate and precise work of a laboratory requires equipment engineered to maintain proper conditions for experimentation. In many laboratories, workbenches are lit and sanitary to avoid contamination.
Chapter Three – Workbench Design
The design of an industrial workbench includes several factors: the ability to handle heavy loads, durability, vibration resistance, and being usable with manufacturing equipment and machinery. Most industrial workbenches use stainless steel or aluminum as the construction material.
The work surface of a workbench has to be smooth and sturdy as well as resistant to solvents, chemicals, alcohol, and petroleum products. Small parts and testing workbenches usually have a finished top covered in resin or a plastic laminate. Industrial workbenches, for heavy manufacturing, are made of stainless steel or aluminum with stainless steel or aluminum surfaces.
- High Pressure Laminate – for less severe conditions
- Phenolic Resin – for lab use
- Epoxy Resin – for severe and harsh lab conditions
- Stainless Steel – for a wide variety of uses due to its rust and corrosion resistance
- Butcher Block – for woodworking and assembly
- Steel – for heavy duty applications requiring high weight capacity
- Maple – for certain industrial uses
Part of the move toward ergonomic workspaces is making workbenches with an adjustable top that allows workers to be seated or standing while working. Height can be adjusted by a hand-operated crank or an electric height adjuster. Electric height adjustability is recommended for multi-shift and multi-operator processes, since the adjustment is effortless and can be programmed for each user.
Depending on the industry, the weight capacity of an industrial workbench can be critical. Standard designs allow for a weight capacity over 1000 lbs., which permits work with heavy machinery, tools, and equipment. Extra heavy duty workbenches have a capacity between 10,000 and 20,000 lbs., while heavy duty workbenches have a weight capacity around 5,000 lbs. The extra heavy duty workbench, pictured below, has a weight capacity of 14,000 lbs.
Paying Attention to Ergonomics:
Employee wellbeing and productivity are influenced by the work environment and workstations play an important role. Height-adjustability, layout, ergonomic accessories and lighting should be reviewed before deciding on a workstation.
For most industrial applications, workbenches are made from 7, 12, 14, or 16 gauge steel. For lightweight applications and less stressful use, they can be made from certain types of wood and aluminum.
Metal and steel supports or legs offer the greatest load capacity, stability, and can withstand the demands of most projects. Stainless steel legs are useful in moist or damp work environments since stainless steel is corrosion and rust resistant. Solid wood legs can have the same load capacity as metal and steel legs but can be more expensive. Limited weight capacity table legs can be used for projects that are lightweight and less demanding.
Addons and Accessories:
- Power Strips
- Utility Ductway - for data, air and gas
- Articulating Monitor Arms – for flat screens and laptops.
- Keyboard Trays
- CPU Holders
- Bins and Cubbies
- Electrostatic Grounding
The workbench, pictured below, has a shelf, lighting, draws, a power strip, bins, and footrest.
Chapter Four – Types of Workbenches
The designs for workbenches are endless since they are crafted for specific applications and uses. They can be very simple with a flat surface for completing and finishing projects or complex with electrical outlets, computer interfaces, shelving, and drawers. The wide variety of types and configurations matches the long list of their uses. Below is a description of a few types.
Types of Workbenches
Portable workbenches are small and light for easy movement. They are designed to be inserted into workstations that do not require a permanent work surface. Portable workbenches may have casters and folding legs.
Woodworking workbenches are designed for shaping and building wood projects. They come in multiple sizes with larger versions for complicated projects involving oversized components, such as building staircases or the assembling of framing.
Metalworking workbenches are very sturdy, strong, durable, and stable. They are used for shaping metal by welding, grinding, and light castings. Their design includes vises and clamps for holding metal parts.
Electronics workbenches require a power source and are used for the repair of electronic components and equipment, such as computers. They are designed for workers to be seated while working and have excellent lighting. Due to the delicacy of electronic equipment, electronics workbenches are grounded with ESD solutions.
Cleanroom workbenches have to be specially engineered to meet the high standards of cleanrooms. Surfaces are made of a non-porous material, such as stainless steel, aluminum, or plastic. They must be resistant to chemicals, rust, solvents, and petroleum products, as well as being able to be easily cleaned.
For many businesses it is advantageous to have custom stations built. This can range from just designing a small custom shelf, to cutouts in the work surface to integrate scales, or designing an entire custom workstation that can integrate with conveyors and other industrial operations.
The common use of a tilt-top workbench is for drafting and design work. They have to be height and tilt adjustable with manual or mechanical adjustment functions.
Isolation workbenches are designed to work with sensitive equipment that have to be protected from vibrations. They are used for working with precision scales, spectrometers, microscopes, testers, and lab instruments. Isolation tables require a precisely balanced surface with leveling feet.
Cabinet workbenches are designed for applications that require several components and tools. They come with a pegboard backing for holding tools, draws, and shelves. Surfaces can be of welded steel, stainless steel, aluminum, or highly finished and polished wood.
Jewelry workbenches are highly specialized for working on extremely small pieces and have a section cut out or one that juts out that allows for close work. They are designed for detail and precision applications.
Retractable Ball Transfer Workbenches:
Sometimes, workbenches are incorporated into material handling systems. Ball bearings that are raised a fraction of an inch from the tabletop assist in the moving of heavier materials with reduced strain on the worker.
Heavy duty workbenches are made for harsh conditions and continuous use. They are made from high grade steel designed to withstand the impact of machinery and equipment without bending or collapsing under the weight. Heavy duty workbenches are capable of holding several tons.
Packaging workbenches have to be specially designed for all types of packaging requirements. They have storage space for bubble wrap, wrapping paper, multiple sizes of envelopes, tape, labels, and other packing materials. The design below is preconfigured for packaging needs.
Chapter Five – Designing a Workbench Area
Though industrial workbenches are a highly productive piece of equipment, it is important that their placement be carefully planned for the greatest benefit and efficiency.
Designing a Workbench Area
In an industrial environment, a workbench should be located for easy access, which is necessary regardless of the purpose of the workbench. One of the purposes of a workbench is to increase the efficiency and productivity of an operation. Having a complicated or complex method for accessing the workbench can slow down production and assembly.
As can be seen in the image above, lighting is an important part of a workbench area. The above workbench is located in the corner of the building with poor lighting. The LED lights are sufficiently bright for easy viewing of the workpiece.
Easy availability of electricity is essential for the operation of tools, testers, monitoring equipment, and other components. Most workbenches come with a built in power strip, as seen in the example below.
The need for moisture control is dependent on the use of the workbench. If the workspace is wet or damp, the workbench will be made of stainless steel and moisture control will not be necessary. In work areas with parts that have to be protected from moist conditions, some form of moisture control device will be necessary.
Moisture control devices can be as large as the humidity control equipment pictured below.
Tools can take up a great deal of space, especially for large applications. In many cases, companies needing a workbench fail to consider how they will store equipment and machinery. For the most efficient operation, tools should have a set location and storage area so that all employees have easy access to them.
Wall or Freestanding:
The varieties of designs of workbenches from portable to wall mounted allows for the placement of a workbench in any location. When determining the use of a workbench, it is important to consider whether it will need to be mobile, secured to a wall, or have space around it for several people to work at one time. The restrictions on this determination may be the space available for the workbench, which should be decided long before making the decision to purchase.
The workbench below, from BenchPro, Inc., is designed to be placed in any location without the need for wall support.
A possible consideration, for some locations, is the need for plumbing. Cleanroom and laboratory workbenches may require plumbing due to the nature of their work. This may or may not be true for other industrial applications. It is a point to consider when designing workbench placement.
- The design of an industrial workbench includes several factors, which are the ability to handle heavy loads, durability, vibration resistance, and being usable with manufacturing equipment and machinery.
- A workbench is a sturdy flat, smooth, molded surface that comes in a variety of sizes designed for specific tasks.
- Workbenches are very versatile tools that have multiple applications and are used differently depending on their purpose.
- Though industrial workbenches are a highly productive piece of equipment, it is important that their placement be carefully planned for the greatest benefit and efficiency.
- Well-constructed workbenches have strong supports that can handle jobs requiring the use of heavy tools and machinery.