A Simple Introduction to Press Brakes

Press Brakes are utilized in the forming lengths of sheet metal components. A press brake is a vital necessity to most metal fabricating shops with shape cutting capabilities, and is one of the most sought after and yet misunderstood machines available for metal working. Press Brakes are rated generally by their pressing capacity, or tonnage, and their overall bending length or machine width such as 175 X 10 (175 Tons of pressing force by 10′ of overall length). The press brake may be fitted with a wide variety of standard and custom tooling that are used to press the material into the desired form. There are two major types of press brakes available on the used market as are described below.

Mechanical: A motor spins a large flywheel at high speed the operator then engages a clutch which can be activated via pneumatic, hydraulic or mechanical engagement. Once the clutch is engaged the moving flywheel is mated to a crankshaft in which the machines ram is attached. The crankshaft then spins cycling the ram up and down. The advantage to this type of press brake is that the machine is electronically simpler and, due to the crankshaft action tonnages are generally 2-3X the rated capacity of the press brake at the bottom of the machines rated stroke.

A mechanical press brake is a good solution for punching applications as the shock of punching material is distributed with much easier due to the machines design. The major disadvantages to mechanical press brakes is that the ram must complete a full cycle, or stroke, and typically cannot be reversed during operation. This poses some safety concerns and operational limitations as well as provides for the possibility that the press brake can be “locked” into an over stroke situation where the ram has traveled too far into the die and the machine has flexed to its maximum and literally locked all movement.

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