What’s a press brake?

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A press brake is used to bend and shape metal in industrial settings. It has a ram and die to control the bending process. Traditional, pneumatic, and hydraulic press brakes are available, with more advanced models featuring a backgauge for complex cuts. The press brake minimizes errors, speeds up production, and allows for more advanced metalworking creations. Special software can also be added for rapid production and saved schedules.

A press brake is a heavy-duty piece of industrial equipment used to bend and shape metal. These machines can be found in sheet metal fabrication shops, metalworking facilities, and pipeline manufacturing shops. Using a press brake, workers can bend sheet or plate metal to form ducts, tools, and consumables. The press brake is a very large and complex machine and generally requires extensive training before workers can operate the unit safely.

There are several types of press brakes available, although each is based on the same basic operating components. A ram, or press, directs the force down onto the metal. Using a die, workers can control the ram and determine the angle and profile of the metal bending process.

Traditional press brakes relied on a mechanical operating system. An internal motor turned a flywheel, which pushed the piston up and down to bend the metal. More advanced pneumatic press brakes use air pressure to increase ram speed and force. The modern hydraulic design includes hydraulic fluid in a large cylinder, resulting in more consistent speed and force.

Instead of placing the metal on a flat surface, workers insert special dies under the piston to give the metal the desired shape. A V-lock die, for example, will cause the metal to form a V shape as the piston descends. You can use other types of dies to create curves and channels, as well as any number of angles.

More advanced press brake models now include a backgauge feature, allowing users to make more complex cuts relatively quickly. The backgauge repositions the metal after each bend to form more complex folds or shapes. This means workers don’t have to remove and replace metal from the machine after each pass.

Compared to manual bending techniques, the press brake minimizes errors and related waste during metalworking. This machine also speeds up production, which can save companies labor costs. Finally, a press brake can bend and shape metal with much more force than manual methods, resulting in more advanced metalworking creations.
Special software can also be added to a press brake to allow for rapid production with little human intervention or supervision. Workers transfer design information into a computer program, which then controls the press brake to complete the required bends. Businesses can also save these schedules to save time on frequently repeating projects.

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