Here is everything you need to know about portable workbenches.
You will learn:
- What is a Portable Workbench?
- Types of Portable Workbenches
- How a Portable Workbench is Made
- Uses for Portable Workbenches
- And much more…
Chapter One - What is a Portable Workbench?
A portable workbench is a flexible and mobile work surface that is designed to function in multiple environments for the purpose of preparing, constructing, or servicing a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications. They have a flat smooth surface with an assortment of attachments to improve organization and facilitate productivity.
Of the many different forms and types of portable workbenches, the two main types are those on wheels and those that can fold or collapse. Workbenches with wheels offer easy and convenient mobility, so the workbench can be rolled from work location to work location. A collapsible portable/mobile workbench has the same rugged construction of a permanent workbench with the addition of hinges and removable pieces that allow it to be compactly stored and moved.
Chapter Two - Types of Portable Workbenches
Stationary and permanent workbenches are formatted and designed to perform one specific function; this function can be set up, preparation, repair, or testing of parts, products, and components. A portable or mobile workbench is adaptable to multiple applications.
From the collapsible type to the type on wheels, the feasibility of a portable workbench comes down to how sturdy and rugged they are; this is determined by how much weight they can bear as well as their stability and steadiness. These factors differentiate a portable workbench for heavy duty jobs from those that are designed for lighter, more DIY applications.
Types of Portable Workbenches
The first thing that comes to mind when discussing portable workbenches is the type that can be folded and placed into the back of a truck. Though this is a mobile workbench that can be purchased at a local hardware store, there are more complex versions with a wide array of features that assist in manufacturing processes.
The adaptability of portable workbenches makes them useful in a wide range of applications, from the repair of heavy duty industrial equipment to assembly processes for small and fragile components.
An ergonomic workbench aligns the work space with the abilities of workers. The reason for ergonomic workbenches is that all employees are different and have unique requirements to match their body type. Ergonomic workbenches are adjustable and pliable to fit the height and size of the worker. This particular type of portable workbench prevents unnecessary injuries and absenteeism.
The portable workbench below can have its height mechanically adjusted through the use of the crank seen on the right side of the image. The extra large supports on either end of the workbench offer stability and prevent slippage.
A folding table workbench is ideal for conditions where there is limited space. The legs of a folding portable workbench fold up and under the flat surface for easy storage. A removable extra brace is placed under the table to provide extra support, and it keeps the legs from folding when the table is in use. Folding portable workbenches come in a variety of sizes to fit any type of application. The table can have extra heavy legs and a thick and heavy surface for heavy duty applications.
On Wheels with Shelves
A mobile workbench on wheels with one or more shelves has the appearance of a cart. The durability of this type of portable workbench depends on the type of supports and wheels, which come in varying diameters. Heavy duty mobile workbenches can have wheels capable of supporting 1000 lbs (453 kg).
The most common type of portable workbench with shelves has three shelves with the option of adding more. The spacing between the shelves is determined by the application for which the workbench was purchased.
Shelves and Drawers on Wheels
A portable workbench with shelves and drawers provides more versatility and the ability to bring tools and supplies to the work location. The drawers can come in a variety of sizes and depths. The top flat work surface can have a lip to prevent small pieces from falling or rolling over the sides. The rest of the construction is similar to a shelved type with the appearance of a cart.
As with the other features of a durable, heavy duty, and rugged mobile workbench, the drawers for this type of mobile workbench are capable of holding hundreds of pounds of tools and equipment. The shelves can be solid material or they can be perforated or made of wire depending on the needs of the application.
Cabinet style portable workbenches are very popular for jobs that require a set of parts and tools that need to be immediately available. There are several designs of the cabinet mobile workbench; these include designs with drawers of varying sizes, shelves, locking doors, and other features that make it desirable for applications that require access to a wide range of tools and components.
There is an endless variety of workbenches with cabinets, shelves, and drawers. They have been a staple of repair shops for many years. The mobility of this type of workbench saves on time and increases efficiency. Cabinet portable workbenches are normally extremely sturdy and made of high endurance steel. Shelves and drawers can be made of plastic, aluminum, steel, or light metals depending on the type of workbench.
Workbench with Tool Rack
Like doors and shelves, bins and tool racks above the work surface offer more flexibility by keeping necessary tools and equipment on hand when at a work location. Much like the cabinet portable workbench, workbenches with tool racks offer an extra amount of organization so that whatever is needed is immediately available and ready to use.
Portable Workbench with Electricity
A necessity for all workbenches is an electrical supply to run computers and tools. Some varieties of workbenches are positioned near an electrical supply to operate one or a few tools. For mobile workbenches that require the use of several tools including a computer, a greater amount of electrical outlets become a necessity.
In the computer age, it is impossible to complete any form of repair or assembly without recording what has transpired. The main function of a mobile or portable workbench is to go to a location and complete a task. Workers will most likely require the time the work started and when it was completed to be recorded.
A multi-functional mobile workbench with several electrical connections and computer access is the ideal choice for the modern manufacturing environment. In many ways, these complex and technically designed mobile workbenches look like a workshop on wheels with every possible accessory and device that can be fitted in a limited space. As an added feature, the majority of portable workbenches with electricity have overhead lighting built into the workspace.
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), the free transfer of electrons, happens frequently in work environments. The majority of ESDs are generated by workers at their workbench; ths can damage electronic devices and components. Since the nature of ESDs is unknown, and they are an invisible danger, it is essential that they be controlled. A static control mobile workbench is a necessity to ensure any components being repaired or evaluated are safe from ESD damage.
Chapter Three - How Portable Workbenches are Made
The various types of portable workbenches are manufactured to fit the applications in which they will be used. The portable workbench for a shipping department varies greatly from one that is designed for repairing and moving industrial machinery.
Portable workbench manufacturers provide a wide selection of materials, accessories, and features that can fit the needs of any operation. When making the selection, it is important to understand how a workbench is produced and the materials that are used in its construction.
Top or Work Surface
The construction of a portable workbench begins with the selection of the type of material to be used for the work surface or top of the workbench. As every other aspect of a portable workbench, tops come in innumerable styles and types. Most industrial workbench manufacturers realize that the needs of customers vary depending on their industry and offer customers the ability to design their own portable workbench.
Laminate is an all purpose surface that is designed for light to moderately heavy duty applications. It is easy to customize and fit to any size requirements. Laminate forms an exceptionally smooth surface that won’t trap dust, dirt, oil, or chemicals. It is nonconductive and easy to clean with resistance to oil, any types of stains, and diluted chemicals. The common colors of laminate workbench tops are black, white, and gray. A laminate workbench top can be bullnosed or have straight squared edges.
Wood is a very common type of workbench top, and it is capable of taking significant abuse. It is used for heavy duty industrial and commercial applications. Before installation as a workbench surface, wood tops are specially treated for spot and stain resistance. Like laminate, wood is exceptionally durable and maintains its appearance regardless of the working conditions.
Any type of wood can be used to produce a workbench top. There are various factors that dictate what type of wood can be used. Maple and hickory are the best types; maple is the most common choice due to its durability and longevity.
Of the various types of workbench tops, stainless steel is the most durable. It is easy to clean, non-absorbent, and corrosion and rust resistant. Stainless steel also has an excellent appearance. Since it is not susceptible to retaining bacteria, grime, or dirt, it is used as a mobile workbench for clean rooms, chemical labs, and operations requiring a highly resilient material.
Stainless steel workbench tops are made of heavy gauge stainless steel that is welded and finished with rounded squared corners. The ability of stainless steel to endure any environmental conditions or applications has made it the first choice for portable workbench construction.
Sheet steel workbench tops are usually made from 12 gauge sheet steel that is sized and fitted as one sheet to cover the top of the workbench. They are low maintenance and have a smooth nonporous surface that needs to be treated to avoid rusting. Sheet steel can be powder coated in several different colors. The powder coating is more durable than paint and makes the steel resistant to scratching.
ESD laminate tops must be specially designed to be tough, durable, and resistant to humidity and abrasions as well as to be in compliance with ESD standards. Heavy duty brass plugs are used for protection of sensitive electronics. The laminate material contains a layer of carbon for the dissipation of static for ESD dissipation rates greater than 10/6th but less than 10/9th.
Epoxy resin has the highest resistance to corrosive chemicals, moisture, and impact and has a high temperature tolerance as well as exceptional strength, a long life, and durability. The endurance of epoxy resin is created during the curing stage where the complete slab of resin is exposed to form a uniform smooth work surface. The main purpose of epoxy resin tops for portable workbenches is for work areas that are very corrosive or have extremely high humidity.
Legs or Supports
Though the tops of portable workbenches are made from a wide variety of materials, the legs or supports are made of metals such as steel or stainless steel. The legs or supports are the most critical part of portable workbench design since they are the part that will bear most of the weight of the materials to be worked.
Light duty portable workbenches may have aluminum or wood legs that are not designed for heavy duty applications. Thick welded steel is required for the necessary support of workbench loads that are cumbersome, large, or have multiple components. Portable workbenches used in corrosive or high moisture environments have stainless steel legs.
Wheels and Casters
Though not all portable workbenches have wheels or casters, ones that are large, with long wide tops of thick material, and need to be constantly relocated to meet the needs of the operation have heavy duty casters that reduce the effort required to move the workbench. Casters for portable workbenches have wheels that are mounted on an axle that is connected to a plate that attaches to the workbench.
Casters are available in a rigid design where the wheel moves forward and backward but cannot turn. The type of caster used on portable workbenches turns 360o, allowing the workbench to quickly make multiple turns.
Wheel diameters can be up to eight inches; approximately four inches is the most common. The larger the diameter of the caster, the higher its load capacity. Four three inch casters have a load capacity of over 1000 lbs (453 kg). Casters used for portable workbenches are made of solid hard rubber to bear the weight of the workbench’s load.
Another feature that is required by portable or mobile workbenches on wheels or casters is brakes with a locking mechanism to keep the workbench stable and in place when work is being performed.
Ergonomic Legs or Supports
For the benefit of workers and to avoid injury, most companies are purchasing ergonomic portable workbenches that allow the operator to adjust the height of the workbench. Workbenches that can be as high as 96 inches, over two meters, come with adjustments of 12 inches to 16 inches or 30 cm to 40 cm.
Ergonomic legs can be adjusted using a crank that is stored under the bench or by a hydraulic or electric motor that operates with the touch of a button. The motors can lift over 750 lbs (340 kg) with ease to meet the height required by the operator.
Chapter Four - Uses for Portable Workbenches
Portable workbenches have become an invaluable tool when there is limited work space or operators need to move to the job location. They provide a stable, uniform, and easily available area to assist in the completion of difficult tasks in a short period of time.
The varieties and types of portable or mobile workbenches makes it easy to decide which type will fit your specific application. From preparing wood for installation to repairing manufacturing equipment on site, portable workbenches offer the flexibility and convenience to finish a project efficiently.
Uses for Portable Workbenches
The most common use for portable workbenches is for DIY projects around the house where work space is limited and the location may be difficult to access. DIY/repair portable workbenches are what come to mind when thinking of portable workbenches for this purpose.
DIY portable workbenches are small, about two to three feet by three to four feet, depending on the brand. They have extra features like clamps, a vice, or storage trays and can be easily folded to be carried. The typical repair portable workbench can hold between 300 and 1000 lbs (136 kg and 453 kg).
The common use for repair portable workbenches is for woodworking projects such as building a deck, repairing a door, or installing molding and siding. They are handy and readily available.
The use of workbenches in industry has been rapidly rising as manufacturing operations are changing the methods they use to assemble and test products. In its simplest form, an industrial portable workbench is a flat smooth surface that provides an area to set up tools and equipment. Though this is the most basic design, each type of portable workbench can be designed and configured to fit a specific task.
Tasks that require workers to sit and stand for extended periods of time can easily be performed using a portable workbench. Every type of task requires the use of some form of tools that have to be well organized and immediately available. Portable workbenches can be configured with drawers, bins, cabinets, and shelving such that any form of application can be efficiently performed in a short time.
Applications that depend on industrial mobile workbenches:
A portable workbench is ideal for researchers, lab technicians, and scientists when performing experiments that involve caustic substances. Stainless steel topped portable workbenches provide protection and will not be harmed by volatile or acidic materials.
Clean rooms have extremely strict standards that have to be closely followed to maintain the clean room classification. Portable workbenches provide a handy means of moving samples and test materials without having to reposition items being tested. Portable workbenches for clean room use are manufactured to ensure there are minimal contaminants and no absorbency.
Portable workbenches are an essential part of building and construction projects since they provide a mobile flat surface for examining blueprints and plans. This particular function for portable workbenches is one of the most popular due to the need to reposition and relocate work surfaces during construction.
Mobile or portable workbenches are very helpful for artists. They provide a space to store implements, brushes, paints, and other tools as well as a place to plan and think. For sculptors, portable workbenches are an essential part of their process providing them a space to try ideas and experiment.
Portable workbenches serve a wide range of purposes in the healthcare industry from a flat surface for studying X-rays and medical records to immediate access to tools and equipment during medical procedures. These reliable and necessary tools help organize equipment and provide easy visibility for instant access.
LAN Computer Workstations
Access to computers is an absolute necessity for every industry in this age of technology, which is true regardless of where the work is being completed. Mobile portable workbenches have designs that provide space for computer placement and wired or wireless hookups. Many jobs require that operators log in when they reach a job site and log out when the job is completed, an operation that necessitates a portable workbench with LAN access.
Well-lit mobile workbenches are important in material handling where labels, boxes, packing materials, and a clear flat surface assist in the efficient preparation of products, tools, and equipment for shipping. Docks and warehouses have developed receiving and shipping processes where mobile workbenches, with shipping and receiving orders, are moved to the location where packages are being processed.
Chapter Five - How to Choose the Best Portable Workbench
Portable workbenches are a valuable tool for providing work space in cramped or inaccessible areas where permanent workstations are not viable. When making the decision to implement and facilitate the use of a mobile or portable workbench, there are a variety of factors that need to be considered.
In manufacturing and industrial operations, all equipment, including workbenches, have to be durable and reliable. This is the first consideration when purchasing them for industrial use.
How to Choose the Best Portable Workbench
When considering the size of a portable workbench, the two factors to consider are the size of the top and the height of the workbench. Most industrial workbenches are ergonomically designed such that the height is adjustable. The size of the top depends on how the workbench will be used and the types of materials to be worked.
In most cases, mobile workbenches for industrial use have a top that is the size of a traditional table and include storage areas for tools and equipment.
The two factors to be determined regarding weight is the overall weight of the workbench as well as the weight the table can hold. How much the table weighs is only crucial if a folding workbench is being used, which applies to a very few industrial applications.
The weight the table can hold is the most important concern for industrial mobile and portable workbenches, which can vary from a few hundred pounds to over a thousand pounds. The determining factor is the types of applications the workbench will be used for. For shipping and receiving, weight is not a crucial issue. In machine repair and assembly operations, the amount of weight a workbench is capable of handling becomes a deciding factor.
The stability of a portable workbench is relevant regardless of the application. Wobbly, unsteady, and leaning work surfaces are inconvenient and unsafe. Manufacturers address this issue with leveling mechanisms and electrical or hydraulic motors. Operators in industrial operations ensure the stability of their work surface before moving the workbench and when positioning it at the work site. All industrial portable workbenches have brakes and other tools to ensure the work surface is stable, secure, and safe.
Any number of addons can be purchased for portable workbenches to assist in efficiency. In most cases, there are electrical connections for tools and bins or shelves for storage of parts. A vice or set of clamps may also be included for securing workpieces. The types of accessories depend on the work that the workbench is designed to perform. The more varied the workload, the greater the number of additions that will have to be available.
Adjustability has become an essential part of all workstations and workbenches since it has been proven that placing the operator in an uncomfortable or unnatural position can lead to serious bodily harm. If the portable workbench will only be used occasionally, having the ability to adjust it may not be important. When operators have to perform concentrated work for long periods of time, an adjustable workbench is a necessity and requirement.
Ergonomic portable workbenches have become a feature that all workbench manufacturers provide and use as a selling point.
The type of material used to manufacture a portable workbench depends on the conditions and environment where it will be used. Clean rooms have extremely demanding standards and stipulate the types of materials that meet clean room specifications. Portable workbenches for industrial operations have to be more robust and capable of enduring the harsh conditions of a manufacturing facility. The majority of portable workbenches for industrial and commercial operations are made of steel or stainless steel. For lighter work, such as woodworking, aluminum or wood workbenches are acceptable.
- A portable workbench is a flexible and mobile work surface that is designed to function in multiple environments for the purpose of preparing, constructing, or servicing a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications.
- Of the many different forms and types of portable workbenches, the two main types are ones on wheels and ones that can fold or collapse.
- A portable or mobile workbench is adaptable to multiple applications.
- The various types of portable workbenches are manufactured to fit the applications for which they will be used.
- Portable workbenches have become an invaluable tool when there is limited work space or operators need to move to the job location.