An alligator shear is a metal-cutting shear with a hinged jaw, powered by a flywheel or hydraulic cylinder. Alligator shears are generally set up as stand-alone shears, in which each stroke is actuated by the operator, often with a foot control. They are generally used to cut pipe or other long-length scrap metal material, like angle irons or I-beams.
While there are still mechanical alligator shears in use, powered by flywheels like a mechanical power-operated press, all modern alligator shears are powered by heavy hydraulic pistons. When actuated, the piston arm extends and slowly closes the upper jaw of the alligator shear, which passes alongside the bed or lower jaw of the shear to perform the cut.
In instances where the shear is exclusively used for routine cuts on standardized stock, safeguarding of the point of operation is definable. In other instances, the operator is safeguarded from exposure to the point of operation by the physical size and configuration of the material being cut.
These practical considerations for guarding are not exclusive to alligator shears. A much more common type of equipment, the press brake, also requires point of operation guarding when used with standardized stock, but not with large-dimension stock.
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