Hydraulic Crimping 101: Everything You Need To Know

Professionals in the power or electrical industry are familiar with hydraulic crimping, but crimping is in fact used for a wide variety of applications. As a joining technique, it offers many benefits that can’t be achieved via soldering or field attachable fittings.

In the context of electrical work, crimping is the process of creating an electrical crimp — a type of solderless electrical connection. The same principle applies when crimping all kinds of wires, cables and hoses, such as hydraulic hose crimping. A crimping tool uses force to compress metal around a coupling, squeezing and deforming the material between the two pieces of metal creating an airtight and permanent seal.

We have curated a list of frequently asked questions regarding hydraulic crimping that may prove to be useful. Continue reading to learn all about the process of crimping.

What Is A Hydraulic Crimper?

A hydraulic crimper is a tool used to connect the ends of two cables, wires, or other similarly flexible materials such as hydraulic hoses to a matching hose end. This tool allows the user to create crimped connections through a hydraulic fluid mechanism to transfer force from the user to the tool.

These tools are also known as swagers, swaging presses, and hydraulic crimping machines. The key component in the system which creates the crimping itself is called the crimp head. Most commercially available crimp heads are single-acting hydraulic cylinders that open and close mechanical dies through various sliding faces.

How Does A Hydraulic Crimper Work?

A hydraulic crimper works by using pressurised liquid to drive a piston down into a cylinder where it compresses a die against a cable, wire or hose being worked on. As this happens, the die forms a permanent bend at its point of contact. When the pressure is released, the die springs back up out of the way leaving behind a permanently bent section of the wire, hose end coupling or cable crimp.

The hydraulically operated die opens up and closes by pushing on one side of the cylinder against a stationary face. As it pushes down, the hydraulic pressure forces the die into contact with another surface. When the desired amount of compression or a certain size has been reached, the hydraulic system releases its pressure forcing the die back out. In this way, the die can be repeatedly opened and closed multiple times until enough material has been compressed to form a permanent seal between the surfaces. In the case of hydraulic hose crimping it is only recommended to crimp once and to a set size determined by the manufacture of the hose and hose end. It is also always strongly advised among leading hose and fitting manufacturers not to mix and match different brands of hydraulic hose and couplings as hose manufacturing dimensions and fitting tolerances vary between manufacturers. Ignoring this could result in the hose failing (hydraulic hose failure) under pressure and could cause significant equipment damage, personal injury or death.

The hydraulic crimping head can then be retracted, allowing you to remove the crimped hose without having to worry about damaging the newly created connection.

What Is The Advantage Of Crimping?

Crimping has several advantages. The primary benefit is that crimped connections create an air-tight seal between the connector and the cable, wire or hose, resulting in a long-lasting and reliable connection protected from environmental conditions such as moisture, sand, dust, and dirt.

Crimpers reduce labour time and strain compared to alternative joining methods such as field attachable connectors when used for crimping hydraulic hose ends.

Hydraulic Crimping vs Mechanical Crimping

The choice between a hydraulic and a mechanical crimping tool will be based on preference, budget, and application, among others. Hydraulic crimping tools are either handheld or remote compression tools using the power of hydraulic fluid. On the other hand, mechanical crimping tools require brute force to be operated.  Most modern hydraulic hose crimpers are hydraulically operated with an electric motor powering the hydraulic pump and 12/24 or 240 volt solenoid control valves controlling the crimping head movement.

Pros and Cons of Hydraulic Crimping

Hydraulic crimpers come with many advantages. They can apply much more force than mechanical crimpers and have advanced digital interfaces to increase productivity. Because these machines are hydraulic powered, they require little to no human input, removing human error and reducing human labour completely. There are many different models perfect for any size workshop you have.

What’s excellent about hydraulic hose crimpers is that they save time and effort compared to mechanical crimps. They work faster than human hands because there’s less strain involved. Also, unlike mechanical crimps, these machines allow you to crimp larger diameter hoses without worrying about breaking them.

Unlike mechanical crimpers which require manual force, all you need to do is press a button when the crimper comes into contact with the end of the hose.There’s no more bending down and stretching while trying to reach areas that are difficult to access.

The main disadvantage of hydraulic crimpers is that they require a larger initial investment. Although they tend to save money in the long run, the initial cost is higher than that of a mechanical crimper.

Pros and Cons of Mechanical Crimping

Mechanical crimping machines have fallen out of favour somewhat since the introduction of hydraulic crimping machines. However, they still retain some advantages.

Mechanical crimping machines are much less expensive, making them more effective for a company to purchase en masse for staff use. In addition, they can be easier to repair in the event a part needs replacing or repairing.

Mechanical crimping machines are by no means bad but their function is inferior to hydraulic machines. Manual versions are slower, less versatile and require more physical labour than their hydraulic counterparts.

What Is A Hydraulic Crimper Used For?

Hydraulic crimpers are used primarily for industrial applications such as plumbing, electrical wiring, and automotive assembly. Crimpers are also used to make a permanent coupling connecting a hydraulic hose to a hose fitting. These types of crimpers are ideal for large-scale production lines where manual labour costs are high.

Automating this process has made it possible for businesses to cut back on manpower requirements and reduce the amount of downtime due to employee errors. This allows companies to keep up with rising demand and remain competitive.

In instances where hydraulic crimpers are used for repair work, this method of joining is quick to execute, can be performed out of the workshop and extends the lifespan of repairs.

Types of Hydraulic Crimper

There are multiple styles of hydraulic crimpers, depending on what you need. Each crimping tool has a different capacity, so it’s important to know what force and what size you will be working with before investing in a machine.

  1. Mini Crimping Tools
    Mini crimping tools are among the smallest types you can find. With relative price and power, these smaller machines are perfect for smaller-scale projects that don’t require extremely high force. Mini crimping tools are compatible with a large variety of die sets and can reach above 10,000 psi with the right pump.
  2. Mobile Crimping Tools
    Mobile crimping tools bridge the gap between mini crimping units and larger industrial ones. The biggest draw of mobile crimping tools is its ability to combine portability with strength, perfect for repairs on the go. Most modern mobile crimping tools come with a digital interface and have crimping forces of over 1,700 kN.
  3. Workshop Crimping Tools
    Workshop standard crimping tools are the benchmark for many businesses. These machines are tough and powerful, built to be versatile and work consistently for many years. With crimping forces of over 2,000 kN, they will be able to accomplish any task you’re likely to throw at them. With the capacity to crimp hoses up to 2” and even larger in some cases, you can relax knowing that these machines will work efficiently and consistently for years to come.
  4. Production Class Crimping Tools
    Production level crimping tools are the best of the best. These heavy-duty units are as tough as they come, and you can find them in the workshops of many of the industry leaders in the country. Able to handle up to 4” hoses in hydraulics workshops with crimping forces over 3,000 kN, there is very little these machines can’t do. If you’re ready to take your work to the next level, look no further than a production class crimping tool.

If you’re unsure which type of hydraulic crimper is best for your needs, a reputable hydraulic crimper supplier can help you determine which suits your requirements.

Related Questions

What Is The Difference Between Crimping And Swaging?

Crimping and swaging are both techniques used to create water and airtight seals around components like hydraulic hoses. The result is very similar, but the process behind getting them to that point is what differs.

Crimping involves using a powerful crimping machine to apply pressure in all directions to a hose coupling to create a tight seal. The pressure is applied evenly through a die that closes slowly, one time only.

Swaging involves quick continuous closures to shape an angular coupling down to a smaller, sealed circular shape. The constant, high-pressure closing shapes the coupling around the hydraulic hose, greeting the circular shape.

Can You Crimp Without A Crimping Tool?

There is no proper way to crimp connections without a crimper or a crimping tool. While it’s possible to manually compress metal connections with pliers or some other means, the results are not reliable or secure. 

If using a crimping tool isn’t a possibility, it is safer to choose an alternate joining method than to perform a poor quality crimp. If you frequently need to crimp connections, it can be worth investing in a hydraulic crimping tool.

If you don’t want to invest in a larger, industrial crimper, there are a versatile range of crimping tools available to suit all price points. A range of smaller, hand-pump crimpers are available to crimp hydraulic hoses, and they require a smaller initial investment than workshop or production crimpers.