There are several reasons why the press brake is a powerful tool – things like repeatability, precision and power come to mind. Let’s not forget CNC control either, which turns a piece of valuable sheet metal fabrication equipment – like a press brake – into a veritable monster.
But the one main reason why press brakes are so flexible lies in the tooling.
Sure – often we’re simply dealing with a 90 degree punch/die combination, but there are so many more variations out there, which press brake-owners new and old need to be aware of press brake.
The press brake isn’t just a souped-up sheet metal brake; we need to remember that it is, in fact, a form of hydraulic press. Obviously then, there is no good reason why it couldn’t shape sheet metal in a way most often associated with stampers and punch presses. Press brake tooling manufacturers have that figured out too, and can deliver punches and dies for a variety of tasks, such as rib forming, flattening, offsetting, radius forming and many more. Thus, a press brake could assume the role of a roll former and easily be used to make something like half- and quarter-round profiles, like rain gutters and the like. Curling can be done too, so combine that with radius forming tools of the right kind, and you’re set to make rain gutters.
Making offset bends is another possibility. Anything from very shallow bends, resulting in a vague offset; to much deeper angles making for z-shaped offsets is available. Hemming, double flange standing seams, standing ribs, return flanges, teardrops, you name it – they can all be done.
With all this variety then, the question arises: What exactly do you need in terms of tooling?
Before you go out and buy one of each, try to list the number of different forming operations you will be doing in your daily work. Often, a single punch/die combo can do more than one type of bend or shaping, so be sure to talk to your tooling supplier about your needs. When you have that conversation, don’t just purchase anything suggested to you – insist on getting the most possible flexibility from the least number of tools. On the other hand, you do want the right tools for the job, so don’t omit important tools from your arsenal and miss out on essential functionality, or force your operators to kludge a solution together, when the right tool would have made setting up and producing the part a breeze.
Remember, the right tool for the job saves you time and money in the end, so it is important to strike a balance between using what you have and having what you need.