Press Brakes – Learn How to Work Them and Make Them Work For You

Nothing comes from nothing
To get the most of a tool or piece of equipment, you really need to know how it works. This is true in all lines of work, and for a press brake operator it is no different. Press brakes are wonderful assets to any metal workshop, but only if operated correctly.shenchong.com If they are not, they could end up as expensive pieces of junk. I therefore present to you a few pointers on the proper use of press brakes.

Great drawings = great results
In order for the press brake operator to produce quality parts, she must first have a quality drawing in her hands. A good technical drawing should contain all possible details concerning the part to be manufactured, and the drawing should be made with a specific brake and its tooling in mind, to assure that the part can actually be made on a specific machine. Many specifications of a press brake matter to the work process, and should not be ignored when producing the drawing. For an example, it would not make sense to specify that a part be bent off-center, if this were to exceed the specifications and cause damage to the machine. Drawings must of course contain all necessary measurements, dimensions and tolerances. They should be made by someone who understands the brake, and how a typical work process on it might unfold.

The operator and her press brake
No matter the level of automation a piece of machinery has reached, there will always be a human behind – an operator. That person must have intimate knowledge of the machine; its capabilities and its limits in equal measure. Even bleeding edge press brakes, cnc-controlled and fed by robots – will be worthless if the operator lacks the knowledge to wield the technology. The operator must know, when she sees a drawing for a new part, whether or not the work can be done on her machine. She must know what tooling to use, and in what order. Know whether to use air bending, bottom bending or coining techniques to reach the goal. Knowledge is essential every step of the way, which makes adequate training essential too.

Skimp on the learning, and the quality and productivity will suffer. Knowing the max tons-per-inch limit for instance, could mean the difference between using a press brake to its fullest potential – or exceeding that potential and wrecking the machine by upsetting the ram.

Tooling is another critical subject, and it is up to the operator to choose the right punch and die for the job.

No single combination will do everything, so experience and imagination is required to pick what works best in a given situation. And do remember to check if the tooling is up to its factory specs – unless you want your work to be below par, of course.

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