Why buy an F-350 pickup truck when all you’ll ever haul is a few bags of groceries? Why invest in a five-bedroom house when it’s just you and your spouse? Similar questions arise when it’s time to buy a new press brake. Do you really need a sheet follower? How about that automatic crowning system or quick-change tooling or an 8-axis backgauge? These are all important considerations, especially when a customized machine tool might take months to arrive and years to pay off.
It’s for these reasons that few shop owners care to buy more machine than they need. At the same time, though, they want to be sure that future customer requirements can be met, demands that are often unclear at the time of purchase. The result is one of two things: shops end up ordering a machine with options they may never use, or worse, drop a wad of cash on a machine that can’t do the job as effectively as one that’s appropriately configured.
For press brake users, at least, those days are over. That’s because Amada America Inc. recently announced two things: a new CNC press brake line that’s exceedingly customizable, and the construction of a manufacturing facility here in the United States to produce them.
Meet the HRB
Scott Ottens, bending product manager for Amada America, says the HRB series of press brakes offers numerous productivity enhancing features as standard, along with a handful of options that can be ordered with the press brake or installed in the field after delivery. Let’s start with the base machine. The HRB 8025, HRB 1003 and HRB 2204 offer bending force ratings of 88, 110 and 243 tons and maximum bend lengths of 102.4 in., 122.4 in. and 169.3 in., respectively.
All are equipped with Amada’s one-touch S-Grip tooling for 50 percent faster setup times. All come with Amada’s AMNC 3i touchscreen and built-in bar code reader, a highly sophisticated control that can also be operated in “light mode” for inexperienced operators, and that supports automated maintenance as well as integration with Amada’s SDD data management server. A 6-axis backgauge is included with all versions, as is a 3-position foot pedal, a natural crowning system, and numerous safety and ease-of-use enhancements.
Another notable feature of the new machine is its hybrid drive system.
“The hybrid drive first became available with our HDS series press brakes,” Ottens says. “Instead of a hydraulic pump and motor that are continuously generating heat and consuming electricity, a hybrid system uses a pair of cylinders – one on each side of the ram – together with separate hydraulic reservoirs and servo-powered pumps. When the operator steps on the foot pedal, the servo kicks in and actuates the pump and the ram comes down. It’s very fast and simple and uses little energy. More importantly, it provides more accurate and consistent bending than competing systems.”
It’s all the stuff that can be added to an HRB press brake that is perhaps most interesting, however. Ottens points to the Bi-S bend indicator sensor for measuring and adjusting angles on the fly. There’s an automatic sliding foot pedal that follows the operator along the length of the bed. An SF1224TL sheet follower is available, eliminating the need for helpers when handling large workpieces. And for complex parts, the L-Shift backgauge system can be added, as can an automatic crowning system for long or extremely close tolerance bends.
“Those are the key setup reduction or productivity enhancing features that many shops ask for,” Ottens says. “All but the backgauge are field-retrofittable, although it is a bit less expensive if you order them with the machine. We also offer automatic tool changing versions of the HRB 1003 and HRB 2204, both of which come with our A-Grip tooling system. All in all, it’s a very capable machine even in its base configuration. The ability to quickly and easily add these and other machine options make it even better.”
Hello, High Point
That brings us to the second piece of the HRB story: where the press brakes are made. To provide faster lead times for these products and greater flexibility in their configuration, Amada America recently opened a 190,000-sq.-ft. facility in High Point, N.C. Ottens notes that the Carolina Mfg. Center is designed specifically for the production of Amada’s HRB series of press brakes, but has enough capacity for additional equipment manufacturing as the need arises.
“We will also do some laser automation at High Point, and we’re currently constructing a 62,000-sq.-ft. technical center that will be opening in the spring, focused almost entirely on press brake programming and operation,” Ottens says. “Not only will we be able to deliver customized press brakes within a week or two, but we will be able to make even an inexperienced person into a reasonably skilled operator fairly quickly. Between the new facility, our laser plant in Brea, Calif., and our solution center in Schaumburg, Ill., we are very well-equipped to support our customers.”