What factors should I consider when purchasing a press brake?

CNC press brake with big daylight opening acted by the machine operator

This was the question in Quora and we made the answer. But the policy of this web is that results could be not indexed for a long time so nobody will find our answer. And we thought — why do not make an article about it? And as usual, we are talking about our knowledge, experience, and skills so we are not making automatic texts and looking for the possibilities to make our articles interesting and helpful.

Your “new press brake. New or used?

Somebody wants top new, somebody wants to be used but from a reputable top manufacturer, somebody wants cheap new (for example, from China) somebody wants enormous cheap and something. This is a very big question and a big topic to explain in a few words and it is similar to a car market. Ok, you have 5000 EUR and you cannot find anything new and you are buying a used BMW 116 for example which is 10 or more years old. One point. Next, you have 20000 EUR and you are buying BMW X6 15 years old. The price of this new machine is 80000 EUR. Or you are buying a new car for 20000 EUR but it will be just a simple Opel.

So there are people who buy new, people who buy used and everybody has his preferences. In the industrial equipment market the difference between new and used is not so big (not 25% of new) but anyway could be quite big and valuable. Moreover, usually, top manufacturers of machine tools also have really big markets for used machines, authorized service partners for used machines trading, and probably even trade-in programs to rechange the used machine tool from the customer to the new one and then to sell the used machine directly from the manufacturer completely checked, verified and refurbished if necessary. Well, we also already made article about used press brakes with all our suggestions.

What is your factory look like?

If the potential customer has several bending machines and is already satisfied with them probably he is looking for the same but another range machine (for example he has already 100 tons/ 3 meters and he wants small one machine to divide the job) or maybe he is looking contrary for the more heavy machine to find a solution for bending for big parts. Is it your first machine or the fifth machine?

Also — what your operator knows and accepts. To tell the truth, modern CNC control for press brake is not hard for learning. It is not a code system. But if you have 5 machines with Cybelec it will be strange that you will bring a new one with ESA. Why? You can interchange programs already, and work with the same software, so why include other software? No reason.

The next thing is factory management. If you have modern production and all your machine tools are in the network you will follow to get the new one also so you will look for similar CNC, software, or brand. So it is normal for every factory or production to look forward to optimization and unification to make the job more simple and effective.

Also, the different press brakes have different bending tooling systems. It means that without the adaptors you cannot use the same tools for different machines and it is also an important factor — to use the same tools and rechange between all press brakes in the factory. There is no reason to install a new machine with a different tooling system and invest one more time for the complete bending tooling sets that you can need.

What do you want to bend?

The most important question to make your choice for any new or used machine.

Others are trying to show you machines’ classification or answering of typology as ChatGPT. But the truth is — everything is concentrated in your production, parts geometry, and program. Do you have millions of similar parts and orders for 10 years? Go to the robot cell. Even if you will pay hundreds and hundreds of thousand for the new equipment and you will return your investments and it will be the cheapest investment than operators, night shifts double payment, semi-automation, etc. in progress.

Do you have simple and small parts? Buy garage press, and press brake module for 500 USD and will be happy with it. You can bend the same parts on the manual machine or top-level electric CNC press brake but it values the same price for your customer and your product.

The world is competition and nobody will buy your final product (for example metal cabinet) if it will have a price triple that of your competitors because you made it on a very expensive machine. And nobody knows it better than you and what is your product and how you want to sell it to the market.

There are different types of press brakes like hydraulic, hybrid, or servo-drive. But the truth is that for typical production there will be no difference in bend itself. There will be questions for service or the main speed of the machine but no differences in bend quality. So it is a mistake to think that the hydraulic press brake is “old technology” and you should pay two times more for a “servo-electric press brake” only.

Also about parts geometry. It is a difficult question because for example if you have 40 parts and 3 of them require another more expensive machine better to find the solution for 3 of them to bend somewhere else. It is not about the production program but the whole picture of what you have, what you expect. For example, we know a customer with big height press brake tooling he uses today to be attached to the beam. There is no other choice for him — the new machine he wants with bigger daylight than the standard machine on the offer. The same about the back gauge configuration and main machine construction.

When we are talking about configuration and geometry of the part we also note that now you could be limited with your choice. For example, you can see very attractive offers of press brakes on the market but their configuration and possibilities (tonnage, length, movements, opening) are not the same that you need for your parts so there is no reason for these offers at all for you. Not for your production.

Brand level for your press brake

Well, for top manufacturers it is the market of used machines as well and they could be valuable even after 20 years. For small known manufacturers — not and probably if you will want to sell your machine after it will be found to find the new buyer for it. It is not so important but also a factor. We could also consider that the company that makes press brakes not from yesterday but last 50 years could have fewer problems with the construction and work based on their technology, experience, and know-how they used. They already made a hundred installations, they care about the feedback of their customers, and they making modernizations, software updates, and more effective in all.

The more wide range of customers could have a more easy way to collect information and comments from other factories on how they feel about their machine, what they like or not. Press brakes from top brands cost more so there is a serious question to the customer does he wants to overpay and for what he is paying more? To tell the truth, somehow it is even the manufacturer’s location.

We know very well that German customers prefer German machines. But not because of quality only but sometimes even for the possibility to speak with the supplier and the manufacturer in the same language. We know about a lot of Italian manufacturers who are well-known in Italy only and not worldwide. For the same reason. Italy is a great country with a lot of press brake machines manufacturers but the local market could be completely different than the worldwide market.

Service assistance

The machine could be perfect if the service will be on another continent you should have yours and be prepared for it. Even top technology machines and the best should sometimes be services and even top companies have bad servicemen. So this is a reasonable factor to search the situation first how it is in your city or region. And it is for a lot of things. For somebody is important that the service technician could arrive tomorrow if something happens. It is a typical situation with big factories because they have constant production and they cannot wait for weeks if the production machine is staying out of work and waiting for service. And they are ready to pay more for these possibilities.

The same for spare parts. Big manufacturers can have big stocks of spare parts to offer the replacement in several days. For small manufacturers it is impossible and you can wait weeks for replacement. It is also for outdated positions as well. If the machine is 15–20 years old and some main components are even not available any more on the market (outdated spare parts) but the manufacturer has 500 installations of such machines he will care to have such spare parts in stock even for 30 years. It is a very and very important factor and mainly for used machines. It is quite typical that the press brake is 30, or 40 years old and still in production or sold as a used machine on the market.

But what about spare parts if something could be broken? So it could be stock of the manufacturer, the possibility of replacement of unit with new model and article or modernization of the machine which could be quite expensive.

We visited a lot of times the factories where people, for example, told us “the machine is good but the service…”. And we know other stories with average brands with outstanding service where they conquested very and very top positions on the market thanks to fast reaction and servicing teams.

And the last one is for any purchase. You should just know what you are paying and in this case, you will be happy, the new machine purchase will be reasonable and supplied according to your requirements and expectations. And there is NO only one answer to your question so we tried to show and describe different factors that are very important to know.

This post is also published on @Medium