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Press Brake Buying Guide: How To Choose A Press Brake Machine

Choosing a press brake machine can be overwhelming. This is because there are dozens of choices categorized by design, mechanism of action, mode of operation, size, functionality, and several other aspects. Narrowing down the most optimal choice based on your preferences is challenging. Luckily, this buyer’s guide will help you choose the right press brake by considering the most crucial factors.

7 Factors to Consider when Choosing a Press Brake

Press Brake

Choosing a press brake machine requires you to consider the intended use case and your unique needs. This will help you strike a balance to make the right choice. To do this, you need to study a few factors that will help you make the right decision. Some of these factors include the following.

1. Type of press brake

There are various types of press brakes on the market. All press brakes are categorized into mechanical (manual), electric (CNC), or hydraulic. Each of these press brakes has an intended use case by the manufacturer. 

Press brakes are used in sheet metal bending to shape metals into predetermined shapes for fabrication processes. Each type has a different mechanism of action, which means that you need to consider what you are working on before choosing a type. Let’s see what influences your choice.

Hydraulic press brake

These types of press brakes use hydraulic fluid to exert the force required to bend the metal sheet. Hydraulic power is reliable because it can exert a lot of compression force with the right type of hydraulic pump. The higher the force, the better the shapes that the machine will produce.

Also, press brakes that can generate high compression force are the best for easily bending stiffer metals. Therefore, consider choosing the hydraulic press brake if you require a lot of force for bending metals. Also, these press brakes are reliable for automated workflows.

Manual/mechanical 

Mechanical press brakes lack automated functionalities. Therefore, the technician manually adjusts the bending angle and dimensions required. 

Some benefits of manual or mechanical press brakes include low maintenance, high tonnage capacity, and basic design. Therefore, they suit low-production lines and inexperienced press brake users. They are also inexpensive compared to electric and hydraulic press brakes. 

Electric/CNC

Electric press brakes use a Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) system. CNC is an automated system that has benefits such as high precision and accuracy. The servo motors facilitate the precision of these press brakes by accurately controlling the bending angle and force required to make the perfect bend. 

While these press brakes make the perfect bend, they might not be the best choice for large-scale metal fabrication. This is because they have a limited tonnage output. In that case, they are recommended for R&D and small-scale production.

2. Level of production

Level of production

Production capacity is an important factor that will influence the choice of press brake to buy. Essentially, you can either have a low or high production capacity. 

You have budget, personnel, and workload limitations in low production capacity. As such, you would be better off choosing a press brake with the basic features and requiring few resources. 

Conversely, high-volume production lines require robust press brakes. Robust in this context refers to efficient press brakes in terms of production capacity. Aspects such as resources needed to run them should not be a major concern since the high production volume brings more revenue, compensating for the resources used.

3. Mechanism of action

Press brakes have different mechanisms of action or configurations. The tandem and robotic press brakes are the two standard configurations available on the market. Choosing between the two will depend on which one satisfies your use cases. 

The tandem press brake

Tandem press brakes are made by jointly connecting two press brakes to make one large one. This means more surface area for the bed, which is handy when bending long metal sheets. The good thing about tandem press brakes is that you can choose the type to use among the three types of press brakes we discussed earlier. 

The robotic press brake

Integrating press brakes with robotic systems is a common feature when shopping for a press brake machine. These press brakes are connected to robotic arms and conveyor systems that load and unload metal sheets, improving safety and reducing technicians’ workload. 

Choosing a press brake based on the mechanism of action is wise since you will prioritize aspects such as safety and productivity.

4. The thickness of the metal sheet

Another crucial factor to consider when choosing a press brake is the thickness of the metal sheets that will be bent. The thicker the metal, the more tonnage is required to bend it. Fortunately, press brakes have tonnage ratings that you can use to determine the right machine for the job.

Press brake tonnage ratings 

Tonnage is another name for the force required to bend metal sheets. The rating is calculated as the force the press brake can generate. This property is measured in tons per foot area. When designing a press brake, the manufacturer sets a tonnage rating for each machine, depending on its capabilities. 

Since different metals have varying thicknesses, you must determine the range of thicknesses you will encounter when selecting a press brake. The bend angle and material type are also factors that should influence the selection of the press brake.

5. Type of bending technique

Several types of bending techniques are used when shaping metals. The type of bend you want to achieve depends on the method. These techniques lead to various shapes, the most common being the U and V shapes.

Air bending

Air bending

This technique is applied when a metal sheet is suspended on a die cavity, and the punch exerts force onto the sheet with a downward motion. Air bending forms a V-bend. If you will bend metal sheets into V-bends often, then you should choose a press brake that supports air bending techniques.

Coining

This bending technique requires a high-tonnage press brake. The method is supposed to penetrate the metal sheet deeply to create a bend with an elaborate design. Therefore, if you will be using the coining technique frequently, you need to consider press brakes with high tonnage capabilities.

Bottom bending

For bottom bending, the punch has to completely press the metal sheet to the die instead of air bending. This means that the bend formed will be more intricate in terms of geometry and details. Due to these constraints, bottom bending requires high tonnage and press brakes with high precision and accuracy. CNC press brakes are a good example.

6. Extra features

While all press brakes come equipped with the standard features you would expect, sometimes the extra features make the machine more valuable. Additional features include more safety features and automated workflows, which complement the press brake. 

7. Operators technical ability  

Considering the technical ability of the operator is also recommended when choosing a press brake. Their ability will inform you about the type of machine you need to purchase based on its complexity. 

You need to consider this because it dictates how often you will have to deal with repairs to the press brake. An inexperienced operator may probably mishandle the press brake, which will require extensive maintenance. 

Best Practices for Maintaining a Press Brake  

Maintenance is a practice that will guarantee a long service life for your press brake. Thus, ensure you plan and stick to a maintenance schedule from the day you purchase the press brake. Some of the best press brake maintenance practices include;

Check hydraulic oil regularly

Hydraulic press brakes require oil to keep the pump functioning optimally. During the maintenance service, you need to ensure sufficient and usable oil. If the level is low, you need to add more oil.

Replace oil and filter regularly 

The pressure brake’s hydraulic oil and filter should be changed every 2,000 hours. After running for this period, the oil is considered unusable and can damage the system. Used oil should be disposed of properly to avoid polluting the environment with hazardous compounds.

Clean the hydraulic component 

Hydraulic press brakes require the most maintenance, particularly of the hydraulic system. Still, this does not mean other types do not require maintenance. This is because the hydraulic components are the most crucial in this system. They include the pump, valves, and motors. Cleaning these components with the proper solvent makes the machine run smoother.

Conclusion

Choosing a press brake machine requires deliberate actions to avoid mistakes. This guide has provided tips to ensure that you are satisfied with your choice. If you need more guidance and a personalized shopping experience, contact us today, and we will help you choose the ideal press brake.

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