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Braking through thick and thin

Parts can certainly differ greatly between bending a part on a 4′ x 50 ton brake and a 16′ x 400 ton brake. However, whether you are bending small parts out of light gauge material on an all electric brake or large parts out of 1″ Thick plate a common challenge of maximizing throughput is the same in either application. There are a number of different ways that fabricators can look to maximize the time the press brake is bending parts rather than staying idle and below are a few avenues a shop can pursue to maximize their throughput to get the most of their press brake.

In the shops bending the small parts out of light gauge material with high tolerances the fully electric and hybrid style press brakes offer higher accuracy and bending speeds in comparison to the traditional hydraulic press brakes. These higher processing speeds allow shops to produce more parts per hour with higher accuracy. A common practice seen on the small brakes is common shut height tooling setups that allow the operator to form a complete part with out having the change tooling. The fingers on the back gauge will position themselves according to the tooling being used for a specific bend going from one tool setup to another as the part is formed.

the-economics-of-small-parts-bending-0Hydraulic clamping certainly reduces tooling setups in any shop. In the case of the shop using the small brakes with staged tooling there are some clamping systems that have LED light systems built in that show the operator where the tooling is be located and where the next bend for the part is to be performed to make the process easier for the operator. For the heavy plate fabricator the hydraulic clamping offers the ability to handle and store shorter lengths of tooling and being able to vertically load the shorter lengths of tooling into the upper tool holder. At the press of a button the tools can be clamped and seated and be ready to bend parts in a much shorter period of time and much easier on the operator.

For the fabricator bending larger parts out of thick material tooling changeover present similar challenges. Larger tooling can be more cumbersome to tear down and setup on the machine. Hydraulic clamping, as previously mentioned is one way to reduce setup times. Another option to reduce setup times are adjustable V dies. Adjustable V dies can accommodate material from 0.25″ to 1.25″. These adjustable V dies can be adjusted by a single operator and changed over relatively quickly as jobs on the brake change from one material thickness and type to another. The adjustable V die can also serve as a standard die holder which keeps it set up on the press brake further reducing tool change over time when smaller V dies sizes are used. Hardened chromed rollers in the shoulders of the tools help reduce the tonnage requirements by up to 20%. The induction hardening process used on these dies provide the capability to withstand up to 200 tons per foot.

Punches for bending heavier plate also offer some flexibility when using interchangeable radius inserts with a common upper punch holder. The interchangeable radius inserts are held in the holder with retention knobs that allow the operator to change from one radius size to another very quickly and easily.

In any case keeping safety should be first of mind and is always of up most importance. There are certainly options to explore to help your press brake as efficient as possible and ease the burden on brake operators.