Press brakes are widely used in manufacturing to form lengths of sheet metal. The machines come in various types and are often equipped with tooling and add-ons to help create customized products. Operators of press brakes are highly skilled and have a thorough understanding of the whole fabrication process from beginning to end. For instance, they need to know the necessary fabrication times for each job specification and the capabilities of different machines. Operators also need to hone their skills as new technologies evolve the machinery. If you’re new to press brakes, here are five things you should know.
Press Brakes Come in Various Types
Traditionally, there are two main types of press brakes: mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical press brakes operate via an interior motor that spins a flywheel at high speeds. The operator controls the flywheel by using a clutch, which sets the other parts into motion to complete the task. Hydraulic press brakes apply pressure, by using hydraulics, which forces the ram down. They typically have more than one cylinder. And they enable operators to have more precise control over the bend of the metal.
Nowadays, other press brakes are available such as retrofitted CNC brakes and full CNC brakes. To operate CNC machines, operators need a different level of knowledge and experience, as each type of brake has its own capabilities, limitations, and maintenance requirements. If operators are not trained, they could make mistakes like exceeding load limitations, which could cause significant damage to the machine.
Press Brakes Are Made by Various Brands
As with the vast majority of machines, press brakes are produced by various brands. If you are thinking of buying used machinery or new machinery, some of the best press brake manufacturers to consider are Accurpress, Bystronic, HTC, Pacific, and Wysong. Each brand has a number of press brake types, such as mechanical and hydraulic ones, with a variety of lengths and tonnage.
Press Brakes Require Skilled Maintenance
Operators of press brakes must know the maintenance requirements for each specific machine they use. You will need to know things like how to apply regular lubrication, and how often you need to change the oil and filters for hydraulic machines.
Operators Require Tooling Knowledge
Operators use different types of bending, such as bottom bending, coining, and air bending. The latter is the preferred method of bending, but it is not always possible due to things like the angle tolerance and the inside radius, and therefore methods like coining or bottom bending are necessary. In bottom bending, the ram presses the metal to the bottom of the die, resulting in accurate bends in the metal. With air bending, the process leaves an air pocket between the ram and the bottom of the die, which means the operator can accommodate any spring-back of the material. As for coining, it is a form of precision stamping where the material is subjected to a sufficient high-stress.
Each method requires different tooling, so to use press brakes expertly, operators need to have a complete understanding of the tooling tolerances for every die and punch used. Although some tooling methods can be used for different press brakes, you generally need to apply specific knowledge and skills to different machines.
The Process Begins with Drawings
Operators of press brakes do not only need to know the machines inside out. They also need to be trained in all elements of the information contained in drawings that relate to the machine and tooling. Before any product can be manufactured, it needs to be accurately drawn. The drawing will contain information like the dimensions of the parts, the bend of the angles, the blank size, the inside radius of the bend, and the appropriate tolerances of pieces. Basically, drawings contain all the specifications required for the press brake process.