Most people not involved in the sheet metal industry have more than likely never heard of a brake press. It is a tool used by sheet metal workers to bend sheet metal. A brake press, also known as a press brake, makes predetermined bends by clamping the sheet metal between a die and a punch. Brake presses have changed over the years. Skilled workers used to be required to operate the industrial machines, but brake presses of today are almost completely automated, requiring the use of much less labor.
Basic Parameters of Brake Presses
Brake presses are typically described by the force or tonnage output of the machine and its working length. Other parameters that define brake presses are its stroke or amplitude, the distances between the vertical frame sides, its work height, and the distance to the important back gauge. Most brake presses have an upper beam with an operating speed of 1-15 millimeters per second.
Types of Brake Presses
There are several different types of brake presses. They are usually described by the way that the machines apply the necessary force for bending sheet metal. The types of brake presses are servo-electric, mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic.
Mechanical Brake Press
A mechanical brake press utilizes an electric motor to power a flywheel. It has a clutch connected to the flywheel, which powers a crank. The crank is responsible for moving the ram up and down. Though rudimentary in nature, a mechanical press is quite accurate and fast.
Hydraulic Brake Press
A hydraulic brake press is operated by the use of two hydraulic cylinders. The cylinders are synchronized to harmoniously move the upper beam of the press. Hydraulic presses are widely used by many in the industry due to their strength, durability, and ease of use.
Servo-Electric Brake Press
These types of press brakes use a servo-electric motor that powers a belt drive that exerts force or tonnage on the vertical ram. These types of brake presses can only be used for low tonnage applications, thus making them less common than hydraulic presses.
Pneumatic Brake Press
A pneumatic press brake uses air pressure in order to drive tonnage to the ram. Due to the difficulty in producing the required air pressure, these types of presses are less common as well.
Prior to the 1950’s mechanical press brakes were widely used. However, advances in hydraulics and computer control systems have made hydraulic presses the most popular. In addition to being very durable and reliable, hydraulic presses use much less energy than other presses and are much safer as well.
In recent years, the press brake has incorporated computer technology to increase accuracy and efficiency. Such technologies include programmable multi-axis back gauges, optical sensors, and the input of CAD specifications. The development of these new computer technologies, though leading to more precise products and increased efficiency, has had a negative effect on the employment prospects of many Canadian sheet metal workers. It has become apparent that learning new computer technologies is extremely important in order to secure employment in virtually every industry.
Linda Haldmin knows how the press brake has impacted the metal fabrication and sheet metal industry over the years. When she is looking for a trust worthy company to purchase sheet metal equipment from she trusts Empire Machinery and Tools. They offer a variety of afforable metal fabrication tools at affordable prices. Visit their website to learn more!