What is a press brake?

Press brakes are machines which are able to bend various types of sheet metal to create tools and fabrications. A metal sheet is positioned flat over V-shaped dies, then bent by the same-shape punch from above. 

Press brakes can bend both simple and complex parts and are used in many industries. They are also known as brakes or brake presses and normally have upper and lower sections.

How do press brakes work?

The upper part is essentially a punch in the shape of a V, with the lower part, called the die, has the same shape but is inverted in order to receive the punch. When the two sections come together, the sheet metal between them is then bent to shape.

What are press brakes used for?

Press brakes are used in a number of industries and sectors. They are frequently used in the aircraft and automotive industries, in furniture-making and to manipulate building materials.

Press braking can appear to be a simple process but achieving the required levels of accuracy can be more difficult than you think. These machines allow operators to make parts and tools from metals but also plastic. 

Brakes can create precise bends or punches into the chosen material. The operators study the plans for the finished products so they can adjust their machines accordingly by changing speeds, feeds and cut paths in order to produce precise products.

Press brakes are an extremely versatile type of machine for fabricating tools. It’s essential for many metal forming operations because it delivers force in a confined longitudinal area. A variety of metals can be manipulated with press brakes, from aluminium to stainless steel, and hot or cold-rolled carbon steel and brass.

What types of press brakes are there?

Press brakes generally come with mechanical drive systems or hydraulic drive systems. 

Mechanically driven press brakes have fixed tonnage so they can deliver more force at the bottom of their stroke and will cycle their ram at more strokes per minute when compared to a hydraulic one of the same size.

Which press brake is best for my business?

If you are thinking of buying a press brake you need to be aware of:

– The bending length and tonnage of the material you will be bending

– The thickness and size of the material 

If you can master this, you will be able to choose the best machine for the job.

The term ‘tonnage’ refers to the bending force of the brake. This will determine the level of pressure the punch can apply at the bending stage. If you are bending thinner materials, you will require lower tonnage, and, in turn, higher tonnage for thicker materials.

The bending length is the maximum length of the metal sheet that the machine can bend. The length of the press should be slightly more than the sheets that you will be bending. So, for example, you can use a 6’ bending length if you are bending 4’ metal sheets.

It’s crucial to consider bending lengths and tonnage when choosing a press as machines have different load limits, so, if you pick the wrong tonnage you could damage the working part of the machine, its die or press ram, and even break the machine completely.