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Low Cost, High Value

May 2013

High-Technology in Modern CNC Press Brakes

For a fabricator looking to add bending capacity, there are a number of choices for low-cost or entry-level CNC-press brakes, especially considering major manufacturers of CNC-press brakes tend to market machines on a global scale.

Decades of development in press-brake design have established increasingly high standards for the machine technology across all market segments. Much in the same way that innovations in luxury automobiles gradually find their way into mid-range and entry-level vehicles over time, the lower segments of the press-brake market now include many features and specifications that were once only available for purchase on a premium model.

The buyer benefits as the price of new technology drops and becomes more widely available. As design innovation continues to test the limits of productivity in high-end bending equipment, the standard technology on entry-level machines improves as well.

One of the most obvious improvements in entry-level press-brake design is universal adoption of CNC backgauges. While CNC control of the ram positioning is assumed, it is entirely possible to have a CNC machine without a backgauge. Manually adjusted gauges were quite common on machines which used CNC control for the pressing axis. Recently, however, even the most basic press brake models will likely include a two-axis CNC backgauge.

This allows for programmable positioning of a gauge or gauges for flange length, and also normally includes a vertical axis so the backstop works with lower dies of different heights and with varying material thicknesses. Any left-to-right movement of the gauge would be manual. More often, the four-axis-CNC backgauge is a minimum requirement for the fabricator.

A four-axis system typically consists of two gauge fingers working in tandem for flange length and vertical adjustment, but with independent movement, left-to-right, inside the press brake. This arrangement is more expensive than a two-axis system, but compared to the more complicated five- and six-axis systems, the investment is minimal.

A machine with a two-axis gauge can be a great bargain if the production requirement is narrowly defined and unlikely to change. For simple channels, pans, and angles in high volume, low variation situations, a two-axis backgauge could also be sufficient. The minimum consideration for any fabricator looking to stage bend in stations along the length of a press would be a four-axis gauge system. This system also presents a safety advantage over a two-axis back gauge, in that no person is required to reach into the die space to manually position a backgauge axis.

Another common feature of entry-level press brakes is a quick-change tool holder. Not long ago, quick-release and segmented press brake tooling and its supporting tool holders were a new concept, reserved mostly for high-end machines.

Now most manufacturers offer a tool holder for segmented, quick-release tool styles. Although manual clamping is still the norm for entry-level press brakes, improved mechanical clamps allow the operator to seat and lock the tooling by turning a handle or lever. Hydraulic and pneumatic one-touch clamping systems have also appeared as optional equipment on the majority of press-brake models, from the very high-tech to the most basic machines.

Just as with the backgauge evaluation, the decision to choose a mechanical, manual clamping system or invest in a one-touch clamping system hinges mostly on the production criteria. It might be difficult to justify the cost of technology for faster clamping when there are higher part volumes and a defined product.

A good option is to base the decision on the anticipated number of machine setups required during one eight to 10-hour shift. With less than 15 setups required during any given shift, manual clamping could be the most cost-effective choice. If the goal is to perform more than 15 setups per shift, the time saved with a fast clamping system should justify the added cost for the option.

In either case, segmented and quick-change tooling is a must to consider. While large, fixed die sets have a definite use in long-run production, most fabricating operations demand flexibility and speed. Quick-change press-brake tools are easier to handle and store than traditional die sets, facilitate faster setup times, allow for more variable part geometry and improve operator safety when you consider the weight of a segmented tool versus the weight of a full length die.

Another positive trend that has impacted all levels of the CNC-press brake market is the demand for greater degrees of precision. Currently, most new brakes are held to a positioning accuracy specification of 0.0004 in. in the pressing direction or Y-axis. This is beneficial to a high-pressure hydraulic system and means most CNC-hydraulic machines have the same high standard of repeatability that was once seen only on expensive models.

This increase of precision is driven by a number of factors, including enhanced encoders and scales, more robust ram guidance, new hydraulic designs and improved dynamic force deflection modeling, achieved mostly with finite-element analysis software. This all leads to better construction of the machine frame and greatly increases the modern press brake precision. This machine design activity results in higher precision at a lower cost without sacrificing axis speeds.

From a functionality standpoint, perhaps the single most important component of the machine is the control. Here again, low-cost press brakes have inherited technology from cutting edge machines over the years. The most basic modern press-brake controls can offer simple 3-D simulation of a bending program. They also generally include graphical programming capability to draw simple parts and develop a working program from a print.

TRUMPF’s 3000 press brake series offers economical bending.

This is another point of consideration for a shop looking to add a press brake on a conservative budget. If the part lends itself to 2-D programming at the control, investing in a control with easy-to-use drawing functions can be more cost-effective than purchasing offline programming software. On the other hand, programming at the control prevents the machine from running other parts. If the part mix is high enough, offline programming software is worth the investment simply for the additional uptime.

A final consideration, and one that seems to grow in importance, is safety. Many factors contribute to press brake safety – or lack thereof – and the machine design will only influence some. The most commonly evaluated element of press-brake operation is the means of protecting the machine operator at work in the die space.

In the past, it was very common to operate press brakes without any protection, other than an impact switch E-stop. It’s now common for companies to use an active guarding system. The most common are light curtains, usually mounted to a post or a side-door in front of the die space, and optoelectric safety devices that are mounted to the press brake ram and travel up and down with it, to monitor the space between the upper and lower tools. Nearly every model of CNC press brake offers one of these active safety systems at least as an option, if not standard.

In short, the choices for CNC press brakes are abundant, and if the technology fits the production requirement, the right low-cost machine is very profitable to operate. In fact, when looking to replace aging equipment, the newer machine can provide significant improvements in technology without being a big drain on resources.

Trumpf

FSMD – Press Brakes May

Photo: TruBend series 3000: Caption: Even new low cost press brakes offer many features that were once only offered on more expensive models.

Low Cost, High Value
High-Technology in Modern CNC Press Brakes

By Tom Bailey
Product Manager – TruBend Product Group
TRUMPF

For a fabricator looking to add bending capacity, there are a number of choices for low-cost or entry-level CNC-press brakes, especially considering major manufacturers of CNC-press brakes tend to market machines on a global scale.

Decades of development in press-brake design have established increasingly high standards for the machine technology across all market segments. Much in the same way that innovations in luxury automobiles gradually find their way into mid-range and entry-level vehicles over time, the lower segments of the press-brake market now include many features and specifications that were once only available for purchase on a premium model.

The buyer benefits as the price of new technology drops and becomes more widely available. As design innovation continues to test the limits of productivity in high-end bending equipment, the standard technology on entry-level machines improves as well.

Photo: Bend part 2: Caption: Lower cost press brakes might even offer CNC backgauges for faster bending.

One of the most obvious improvements in entry-level press-brake design is universal adoption of CNC backgauges. While CNC control of the ram positioning is assumed, it is entirely possible to have a CNC machine without a backgauge. Manually adjusted gauges were quite common on machines which used CNC control for the pressing axis. Recently, however, even the most basic press brake models will likely include a two-axis CNC backgauge.

This allows for programmable positioning of a gauge or gauges for flange length, and also normally includes a vertical axis so the backstop works with lower dies of different heights and with varying material thicknesses. Any left-to-right movement of the gauge would be manual. More often, the four-axis-CNC backgauge is a minimum requirement for the fabricator.

Photo: TruBend 3120 control: Caption: Even low cost press brakes offer newer and more sophisticated control systems that increase operator productivity.

A four-axis system typically consists of two gauge fingers working in tandem for flange length and vertical adjustment, but with independent movement, left-to-right, inside the press brake. This arrangement is more expensive than a two-axis system, but compared to the more complicated five- and six-axis systems, the investment is minimal.

A machine with a two-axis gauge can be a great bargain if the production requirement is narrowly defined and unlikely to change. For simple channels, pans, and angles in high volume, low variation situations, a two-axis backgauge could also be sufficient. The minimum consideration for any fabricator looking to stage bend in stations along the length of a press would be a four-axis gauge system. This system also presents a safety advantage over a two-axis back gauge, in that no person is required to reach into the die space to manually position a backgauge axis.

Another common feature of entry-level press brakes is a quick-change tool holder. Not long ago, quick-release and segmented press brake tooling and its supporting tool holders were a new concept, reserved mostly for high-end machines.

Now most manufacturers offer a tool holder for segmented, quick-release tool styles. Although manual clamping is still the norm for entry-level press brakes, improved mechanical clamps allow the operator to seat and lock the tooling by turning a handle or lever. Hydraulic and pneumatic one-touch clamping systems have also appeared as optional equipment on the majority of press-brake models, from the very high-tech to the most basic machines.

Just as with the backgauge evaluation, the decision to choose a mechanical, manual clamping system or invest in a one-touch clamping system hinges mostly on the production criteria. It might be difficult to justify the cost of technology for faster clamping when there are higher part volumes and a defined product.

A good option is to base the decision on the anticipated number of machine setups required during one eight to 10-hour shift. With less than 15 setups required during any given shift, manual clamping could be the most cost-effective choice. If the goal is to perform more than 15 setups per shift, the time saved with a fast clamping system should justify the added cost for the option.

In either case, segmented and quick-change tooling is a must to consider. While large, fixed die sets have a definite use in long-run production, most fabricating operations demand flexibility and speed. Quick-change press-brake tools are easier to handle and store than traditional die sets, facilitate faster setup times, allow for more variable part geometry and improve operator safety when you consider the weight of a segmented tool versus the weight of a full length die.

Another positive trend that has impacted all levels of the CNC-press brake market is the demand for greater degrees of precision. Currently, most new brakes are held to a positioning accuracy specification of 0.0004 in. in the pressing direction or Y-axis. This is beneficial to a high-pressure hydraulic system and means most CNC-hydraulic machines have the same high standard of repeatability that was once seen only on expensive models.

This increase of precision is driven by a number of factors, including enhanced encoders and scales, more robust ram guidance, new hydraulic designs and improved dynamic force deflection modeling, achieved mostly with finite-element analysis software. This all leads to better construction of the machine frame and greatly increases the modern press brake precision. This machine design activity results in higher precision at a lower cost without sacrificing axis speeds.

From a functionality standpoint, perhaps the single most important component of the machine is the control. Here again, low-cost press brakes have inherited technology from cutting edge machines over the years. The most basic modern press-brake controls can offer simple 3-D simulation of a bending program. They also generally include graphical programming capability to draw simple parts and develop a working program from a print.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-k3v8Ogi_s&feature=share&list=PL86CA6C562EAE8F0A
Caption: TRUMPF’s 3000 press brake series offers economical bending.

This is another point of consideration for a shop looking to add a press brake on a conservative budget. If the part lends itself to 2-D programming at the control, investing in a control with easy-to-use drawing functions can be more cost-effective than purchasing offline programming software. On the other hand, programming at the control prevents the machine from running other parts. If the part mix is high enough, offline programming software is worth the investment simply for the additional uptime.

A final consideration, and one that seems to grow in importance, is safety. Many factors contribute to press brake safety – or lack thereof – and the machine design will only influence some. The most commonly evaluated element of press-brake operation is the means of protecting the machine operator at work in the die space.

Photo: BendGuard Safety: Caption: New, low-cost press brakes offer more operator safety.

In the past, it was very common to operate press brakes without any protection, other than an impact switch E-stop. It’s now common for companies to use an active guarding system. The most common are light curtains, usually mounted to a post or a side-door in front of the die space, and optoelectric safety devices that are mounted to the press brake ram and travel up and down with it, to monitor the space between the upper and lower tools. Nearly every model of CNC press brake offers one of these active safety systems at least as an option, if not standard.

In short, the choices for CNC press brakes are abundant, and if the technology fits the production requirement, the right low-cost machine is very profitable to operate. In fact, when looking to replace aging equipment, the newer machine can provide significant improvements in technology without being a big drain on resources.

Trumpf

FSMD – Press Brakes May

Photo: TruBend series 3000: Caption: Even new low cost press brakes offer many features that were once only offered on more expensive models.

Low Cost, High Value
High-Technology in Modern CNC Press Brakes

By Tom Bailey
Product Manager – TruBend Product Group
TRUMPF

For a fabricator looking to add bending capacity, there are a number of choices for low-cost or entry-level CNC-press brakes, especially considering major manufacturers of CNC-press brakes tend to market machines on a global scale.

Decades of development in press-brake design have established increasingly high standards for the machine technology across all market segments. Much in the same way that innovations in luxury automobiles gradually find their way into mid-range and entry-level vehicles over time, the lower segments of the press-brake market now include many features and specifications that were once only available for purchase on a premium model.

The buyer benefits as the price of new technology drops and becomes more widely available. As design innovation continues to test the limits of productivity in high-end bending equipment, the standard technology on entry-level machines improves as well.

Photo: Bend part 2: Caption: Lower cost press brakes might even offer CNC backgauges for faster bending.

One of the most obvious improvements in entry-level press-brake design is universal adoption of CNC backgauges. While CNC control of the ram positioning is assumed, it is entirely possible to have a CNC machine without a backgauge. Manually adjusted gauges were quite common on machines which used CNC control for the pressing axis. Recently, however, even the most basic press brake models will likely include a two-axis CNC backgauge.

This allows for programmable positioning of a gauge or gauges for flange length, and also normally includes a vertical axis so the backstop works with lower dies of different heights and with varying material thicknesses. Any left-to-right movement of the gauge would be manual. More often, the four-axis-CNC backgauge is a minimum requirement for the fabricator.

Photo: TruBend 3120 control: Caption: Even low cost press brakes offer newer and more sophisticated control systems that increase operator productivity.

A four-axis system typically consists of two gauge fingers working in tandem for flange length and vertical adjustment, but with independent movement, left-to-right, inside the press brake. This arrangement is more expensive than a two-axis system, but compared to the more complicated five- and six-axis systems, the investment is minimal.

A machine with a two-axis gauge can be a great bargain if the production requirement is narrowly defined and unlikely to change. For simple channels, pans, and angles in high volume, low variation situations, a two-axis backgauge could also be sufficient. The minimum consideration for any fabricator looking to stage bend in stations along the length of a press would be a four-axis gauge system. This system also presents a safety advantage over a two-axis back gauge, in that no person is required to reach into the die space to manually position a backgauge axis.

Another common feature of entry-level press brakes is a quick-change tool holder. Not long ago, quick-release and segmented press brake tooling and its supporting tool holders were a new concept, reserved mostly for high-end machines.

Now most manufacturers offer a tool holder for segmented, quick-release tool styles. Although manual clamping is still the norm for entry-level press brakes, improved mechanical clamps allow the operator to seat and lock the tooling by turning a handle or lever. Hydraulic and pneumatic one-touch clamping systems have also appeared as optional equipment on the majority of press-brake models, from the very high-tech to the most basic machines.

Just as with the backgauge evaluation, the decision to choose a mechanical, manual clamping system or invest in a one-touch clamping system hinges mostly on the production criteria. It might be difficult to justify the cost of technology for faster clamping when there are higher part volumes and a defined product.

A good option is to base the decision on the anticipated number of machine setups required during one eight to 10-hour shift. With less than 15 setups required during any given shift, manual clamping could be the most cost-effective choice. If the goal is to perform more than 15 setups per shift, the time saved with a fast clamping system should justify the added cost for the option.

In either case, segmented and quick-change tooling is a must to consider. While large, fixed die sets have a definite use in long-run production, most fabricating operations demand flexibility and speed. Quick-change press-brake tools are easier to handle and store than traditional die sets, facilitate faster setup times, allow for more variable part geometry and improve operator safety when you consider the weight of a segmented tool versus the weight of a full length die.

Another positive trend that has impacted all levels of the CNC-press brake market is the demand for greater degrees of precision. Currently, most new brakes are held to a positioning accuracy specification of 0.0004 in. in the pressing direction or Y-axis. This is beneficial to a high-pressure hydraulic system and means most CNC-hydraulic machines have the same high standard of repeatability that was once seen only on expensive models.

This increase of precision is driven by a number of factors, including enhanced encoders and scales, more robust ram guidance, new hydraulic designs and improved dynamic force deflection modeling, achieved mostly with finite-element analysis software. This all leads to better construction of the machine frame and greatly increases the modern press brake precision. This machine design activity results in higher precision at a lower cost without sacrificing axis speeds.

From a functionality standpoint, perhaps the single most important component of the machine is the control. Here again, low-cost press brakes have inherited technology from cutting edge machines over the years. The most basic modern press-brake controls can offer simple 3-D simulation of a bending program. They also generally include graphical programming capability to draw simple parts and develop a working program from a print.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-k3v8Ogi_s&feature=share&list=PL86CA6C562EAE8F0A
Caption: TRUMPF’s 3000 press brake series offers economical bending.

This is another point of consideration for a shop looking to add a press brake on a conservative budget. If the part lends itself to 2-D programming at the control, investing in a control with easy-to-use drawing functions can be more cost-effective than purchasing offline programming software. On the other hand, programming at the control prevents the machine from running other parts. If the part mix is high enough, offline programming software is worth the investment simply for the additional uptime.

A final consideration, and one that seems to grow in importance, is safety. Many factors contribute to press brake safety – or lack thereof – and the machine design will only influence some. The most commonly evaluated element of press-brake operation is the means of protecting the machine operator at work in the die space.

Photo: BendGuard Safety: Caption: New, low-cost press brakes offer more operator safety.

In the past, it was very common to operate press brakes without any protection, other than an impact switch E-stop. It’s now common for companies to use an active guarding system. The most common are light curtains, usually mounted to a post or a side-door in front of the die space, and optoelectric safety devices that are mounted to the press brake ram and travel up and down with it, to monitor the space between the upper and lower tools. Nearly every model of CNC press brake offers one of these active safety systems at least as an option, if not standard.

In short, the choices for CNC press brakes are abundant, and if the technology fits the production requirement, the right low-cost machine is very profitable to operate. In fact, when looking to replace aging equipment, the newer machine can provide significant improvements in technology without being a big drain on resources.

Trumpf

FSMD – Press Brakes May

Photo: TruBend series 3000: Caption: Even new low cost press brakes offer many features that were once only offered on more expensive models.

Low Cost, High Value
High-Technology in Modern CNC Press Brakes

By Tom Bailey
Product Manager – TruBend Product Group
TRUMPF

For a fabricator looking to add bending capacity, there are a number of choices for low-cost or entry-level CNC-press brakes, especially considering major manufacturers of CNC-press brakes tend to market machines on a global scale.

Decades of development in press-brake design have established increasingly high standards for the machine technology across all market segments. Much in the same way that innovations in luxury automobiles gradually find their way into mid-range and entry-level vehicles over time, the lower segments of the press-brake market now include many features and specifications that were once only available for purchase on a premium model.

The buyer benefits as the price of new technology drops and becomes more widely available. As design innovation continues to test the limits of productivity in high-end bending equipment, the standard technology on entry-level machines improves as well.

Photo: Bend part 2: Caption: Lower cost press brakes might even offer CNC backgauges for faster bending.

One of the most obvious improvements in entry-level press-brake design is universal adoption of CNC backgauges. While CNC control of the ram positioning is assumed, it is entirely possible to have a CNC machine without a backgauge. Manually adjusted gauges were quite common on machines which used CNC control for the pressing axis. Recently, however, even the most basic press brake models will likely include a two-axis CNC backgauge.

This allows for programmable positioning of a gauge or gauges for flange length, and also normally includes a vertical axis so the backstop works with lower dies of different heights and with varying material thicknesses. Any left-to-right movement of the gauge would be manual. More often, the four-axis-CNC backgauge is a minimum requirement for the fabricator.

Photo: TruBend 3120 control: Caption: Even low cost press brakes offer newer and more sophisticated control systems that increase operator productivity.

A four-axis system typically consists of two gauge fingers working in tandem for flange length and vertical adjustment, but with independent movement, left-to-right, inside the press brake. This arrangement is more expensive than a two-axis system, but compared to the more complicated five- and six-axis systems, the investment is minimal.

A machine with a two-axis gauge can be a great bargain if the production requirement is narrowly defined and unlikely to change. For simple channels, pans, and angles in high volume, low variation situations, a two-axis backgauge could also be sufficient. The minimum consideration for any fabricator looking to stage bend in stations along the length of a press would be a four-axis gauge system. This system also presents a safety advantage over a two-axis back gauge, in that no person is required to reach into the die space to manually position a backgauge axis.

Another common feature of entry-level press brakes is a quick-change tool holder. Not long ago, quick-release and segmented press brake tooling and its supporting tool holders were a new concept, reserved mostly for high-end machines.

Now most manufacturers offer a tool holder for segmented, quick-release tool styles. Although manual clamping is still the norm for entry-level press brakes, improved mechanical clamps allow the operator to seat and lock the tooling by turning a handle or lever. Hydraulic and pneumatic one-touch clamping systems have also appeared as optional equipment on the majority of press-brake models, from the very high-tech to the most basic machines.

Just as with the backgauge evaluation, the decision to choose a mechanical, manual clamping system or invest in a one-touch clamping system hinges mostly on the production criteria. It might be difficult to justify the cost of technology for faster clamping when there are higher part volumes and a defined product.

A good option is to base the decision on the anticipated number of machine setups required during one eight to 10-hour shift. With less than 15 setups required during any given shift, manual clamping could be the most cost-effective choice. If the goal is to perform more than 15 setups per shift, the time saved with a fast clamping system should justify the added cost for the option.

In either case, segmented and quick-change tooling is a must to consider. While large, fixed die sets have a definite use in long-run production, most fabricating operations demand flexibility and speed. Quick-change press-brake tools are easier to handle and store than traditional die sets, facilitate faster setup times, allow for more variable part geometry and improve operator safety when you consider the weight of a segmented tool versus the weight of a full length die.

Another positive trend that has impacted all levels of the CNC-press brake market is the demand for greater degrees of precision. Currently, most new brakes are held to a positioning accuracy specification of 0.0004 in. in the pressing direction or Y-axis. This is beneficial to a high-pressure hydraulic system and means most CNC-hydraulic machines have the same high standard of repeatability that was once seen only on expensive models.

This increase of precision is driven by a number of factors, including enhanced encoders and scales, more robust ram guidance, new hydraulic designs and improved dynamic force deflection modeling, achieved mostly with finite-element analysis software. This all leads to better construction of the machine frame and greatly increases the modern press brake precision. This machine design activity results in higher precision at a lower cost without sacrificing axis speeds.

From a functionality standpoint, perhaps the single most important component of the machine is the control. Here again, low-cost press brakes have inherited technology from cutting edge machines over the years. The most basic modern press-brake controls can offer simple 3-D simulation of a bending program. They also generally include graphical programming capability to draw simple parts and develop a working program from a print.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-k3v8Ogi_s&feature=share&list=PL86CA6C562EAE8F0A
Caption: TRUMPF’s 3000 press brake series offers economical bending.

This is another point of consideration for a shop looking to add a press brake on a conservative budget. If the part lends itself to 2-D programming at the control, investing in a control with easy-to-use drawing functions can be more cost-effective than purchasing offline programming software. On the other hand, programming at the control prevents the machine from running other parts. If the part mix is high enough, offline programming software is worth the investment simply for the additional uptime.

A final consideration, and one that seems to grow in importance, is safety. Many factors contribute to press brake safety – or lack thereof – and the machine design will only influence some. The most commonly evaluated element of press-brake operation is the means of protecting the machine operator at work in the die space.

Photo: BendGuard Safety: Caption: New, low-cost press brakes offer more operator safety.

In the past, it was very common to operate press brakes without any protection, other than an impact switch E-stop. It’s now common for companies to use an active guarding system. The most common are light curtains, usually mounted to a post or a side-door in front of the die space, and optoelectric safety devices that are mounted to the press brake ram and travel up and down with it, to monitor the space between the upper and lower tools. Nearly every model of CNC press brake offers one of these active safety systems at least as an option, if not standard.

In short, the choices for CNC press brakes are abundant, and if the technology fits the production requirement, the right low-cost machine is very profitable to operate. In fact, when looking to replace aging equipment, the newer machine can provide significant improvements in technology without being a big drain on resources.

Trumpf