A workbench can be an expensive purchase – but it’s a vital one for many engineers. That’s why it’s so important to understand all the different features and options available with each type. This way you can make an informed decision on what type of workbench you need.
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A workbench with a fixed height is a suitable option if there will be no need to adjust the working height to the requirements of different users. So if the workbench is for personal use, then a static one may be ideal.
However, if the workbench will be used by more than one person in the workplace, a height-adjustable workbench could be the better option. It gives greater flexibility and makes it easier for everyone to achieve a more ergonomic working position in which to complete their tasks efficiently.
Stationary or mobile?
In most cases there is no need for the workbench to be moved around or repositioned. But there are some instances where it’s better to choose a workbench on wheels – for example, if you have limited space or you have a job that requires you to constantly be on the move.
You can find many mobile workbenches that feature handles and built-in castors so they are much easier to move around.
Work surface material
Consider what type of work surface you may benefit from the most, and how the construction of the workbench will affect your work. This is a really important factor that needs to be thought through properly as not all work surface materials are compatible with different types of work.
- Stainless steel: ultra-tough and very strong, this material is the best choice for catering, pharmaceutical and medical industries and it’s also good for general purpose use.
- Laminate: ideal for general purpose use, this is the most commonly chosen option in the UK.
- Solid wood: extremely hard-wearing and durable, wood is ideal for woodwork, joinery, carving and school applications.
- Melamine-faced chipboard: cost-effective, long-lasting and very safe to use, MFC is best suited for general purpose and light-duty use.
- Lino: renowned for being made from natural materials, lino has antistatic properties and is ideal for use in industrial and warehouse environments.
In addition, there are work surfaces developed specifically to dissipate electrostatic discharge (ESD), and these are ideal for use by electrical engineers. Made from plastics laminated under high pressure, and with a carbon layer, they prevent the build-up of electricity, which could cause damage to the electronic items that are being worked on. They are ideal for use in production lines, repair shops, laboratories and teaching facilities.
Workbenches usually have plenty of storage options, both above and below the work surface. This means that, with careful planning, you should be able to get a workstation that exactly addresses your storage needs with little or no wasted space.
You will need to think about what you will be storing in terms of size, shape, weight and quantity. This can make your options clearer.
No matter what the task, there’s an accessory option to help you get the job done. Workbenches have a lot of available space for you to customise them and add accessories that will simplify your daily tasks.
Picking the right accessories really comes down to personal choice i.e what jobs are being performed in this workspace? You may decide to install shelving for manuals or instruments or add a parts bin rail, a monitor bracket or even a keyboard holder.
Or, if you work in a dark space or simply require more light when working with delicate objects, a light accessory may be suitable. Many lighting options are very easy to install and can be moved in or out the way when needed. They help to diffuse the light and reduce glare, making working conditions more comfortable for your eyes.