Press brake bending as the key for optimization

CNC press brake with installed bending tools

Press brake bending is a very interesting process. From one side it is very and very simple on kinematic movements and basic technology — one moveable beam, one tool moved to the other and makes the bend. Where the punch stop — there is the point for the desired angle. Construction of the press brake could be very simple with just one stroke mechanism to realize the simple parts. The technology is very old in the world and used for at least 80 years but probably the classical old press brake was just a standard press with a punch and die for bending. Later it came to the story to enlarge the bending length and how to make the beam parallel with sided moveable units.

Advantages with modern press brakes

To obtain more precision, more functionality, more possibilities, and more space for parts movements and press brake tools installation modern machines are equipped with servo drives, precision hydraulic units, digital controls, effective clamping, and universal tools. Professional and effective software allows showing the dimension of the machine tool units itself (mainly we need beam and table only), bending press brake tools, and the part in the digital environment so it is possible to verify all movements, check out all the collisions and part displacement during the bending process.

Bending of sheet metal is the process to make the complete part so this operation even if it is simple is very important for factory and production routes. The possibilities and complexity of performed operations are based on operator skills, installed press brake tools, and the construction and configuration of the machine itself. But even skills and tools are most important — you can have last generation machine and not know how to realize the bending of the part or you do not have the tooling to make it. The other story — with simple machines and ideas of the optimized bending you can realize complicated parts probably more slowly and in manual mode.

Knowledge of bending

There are a lot of stories — people do not understand the real possibilities for bending or contrary and do not understand the real limits. For example is possible to cut with a press brake, punch holes, make formings, and for sure make complex bending. And is impossible to bend the simple box deeper two times the daylight of your press brake because you don’t know the real characteristics of your machine.

For the sheet metal industry in Italy, for example, piegatore as a “bender” or correctly — bending machine operator — is a very interesting respectable profession that requires skills and experience. Main production machines, for example, laser cutting machines work completely by program, and the operator is necessary only to load and unload. You cannot transform the process of a laser cutting machine better than software nesting and there are no points for creativity or optimization.
Press brake bending is another story — the operator works, makes the setup, performs the bends, and can change the sequence if necessary and could be more optimal. Companies cared for qualified operators because they can develop more effective processes, and technology of bending and probably with their ideas also to save some money during optimization.

In modern production, there are questions about how big is the investment, how hard to return it and what is the speed of the production. For example, if you need to bend a small batch of profiles you do not need special bending tooling and pay several thousand Euro because the parts themselves will cost lower. But if you have productions of thousands of equal pieces each month every detail is actual — every bend is sensitive because increases the production time, every setup makes additional costs and you should think even for special complex tooling solutions or automatization with serious investments but to make the optimal production time and finally bringing effective optimization of the manufacturing process.

Bending process optimization

So for engineers, owners, and solution providers is important to find and develop the best for costs and time. We think that production is something clear but even bright mind is important — several companies can develop different solutions and hard to understand what is the best, moreover the differences in costs could be also high. It is necessary to know to all that some things could be bent in different ways (and each will give you the final part) but the question will be how much you will pay for the tools and what useful lifetime for them will be.

For sure with different products, and simple geometries of parts all of this is not important and there is probably even no way for real optimization. But once the production grows, parts became more complicated, quantities increase or you need to sell more you should think that good investment in production will return double in the future. Also for people — all software generations are limited with possibilities and for long years it will be no possibility to replace the engineering mind. A lot of times we encountered ourself how the problems were solved by the operator and CNC software didn’t provide any solution.

The best — is to have the part, to have the program, and then to start with the choosing of press brake and to order the real necessary configuration, length, tonnage, etc. it could also help to purchase the tools you need and probably not standard so you will not overpay for things you do not need. More complicated to start later and to define how your machine can realize the complete production program and probably new customer requests. Nobody wants to overpay but sometimes it is possible to think for the future and future possible projects — probably some additions for press brake will be actual for the factory to be used later but will be incredibly necessary.

There is one more note — optimization could be reached not only by the machine options and possibilities but based on the work necessities — for example, if you have small pieces less than 100 mm in length and you have thousands every day even compact press brake of 800 mm (which usually is the smallest model of all main manufacturers) could be really big for you and you should look for smaller and 2 tables on the sides. Because even if you do not think now about it, a simple movement of the hand to place one small piece on the table near or at the rear side could become hours when we are talking about very big production quantities.

The present market offers incredible possibilities for bending machines based on the application from simple garage units for bending till big lines with full automation for bending refrigerator panels or high tonnage and big machines for light poles and for sure for any solution from most cheap till the most expensive are available the customers who need them. Meanwhile, as we wrote before, a bright mind could make even a simple press brake to the complex engineering unit for non-ordinary parts. And the bending job field allows big possibilities for imagination and the realization of interesting ideas.

This post is also published on @Medium