Sheet Metal Bending Folding Technology

Sheet Metal Bending Folding Technology

The bending technology area covers all manner of machines and processes for bending sheet metal, especially press brakes, folders, and panel benders. Press brakes are the most common bending equipment in fabricating shops. In a press brake, sheet metal is held in place by clamps between a matching punch and die, and the machine’s ram, with punch attached, moves downward to form a predetermined bend. A folding machine relies on a swinging beam that folds the workpiece, which is positioned and held by clamping beam tools. In panel bending, the sheet is positioned below blank-holder tools, which descend and clamp the workpiece in place, with material protruding on the other side; the machine’s bending blades from above and below move to fold the metal. Other technologies covered in this area include corner formers, ironworkers, notchers, orbital formers, and roll benders.

Press brakes included Hydraulic Torsion Bar press brake, Hydraulic CNC Synchro Press Brake, Electro press brake,Hybrid press brake and Robetic press brake bending machine, each type of press brake has their own advantage and market shares all over the world. Speed, precision, setting time, back gauge, energy saving, cost are all important factors when you are planning to get one press brakes for your sheet metal bending applications.

Press brake main advanced technology focus on improving Faster Bending speed, Bending safety guarding(included light curtain and laser guarding), Back gauge position speed, flexible&mutl press brake back gauge design, Anti-deflection table(Hydraulic, Mechanical, manual or CNC controlled), Bending angle mesuring system, sheet metal bending follower system, Hydraulic&pneumatic press brake clamping system, Faster and precise top punch and bottom die holders.

Is it time to put a robot in front of a press brake for your sheet metal bending jobs?

The following questions can help you make the case for robotic sheet metal bending for your press brakes.

1. Do I have a computer-savvy press brake operator to run the automatic bending cell?

Making an automated bending cell work is a matter of having an experienced press brake operator willing to make the automation work.

It's important for press brake operators to move away from jotting down notes in their personal spiral-bound notepads about how jobs are processed to make a quality part. Instead they should make those adjustments to bending programs to guide less experienced operators or the robot, in the case of automated bending. Only with that type of openness to change and willingness to work with new technology will an automatic bending cell be successful.

On the other hand manufacturing software has progressed to the point where even a shop floor novice can run the most advanced bending cells. The days of spending several days to teach a robot how to do a couple of simple bends for a run of 5,000 parts is over.

2. What jobs make the most sense for a robot?

 three types of jobs that are suitable:

  • High-volume jobs that dominate one press brake operator's time and create a painfully repetitious task for that employee.

  • Low-volume jobs that tend to reoccur.

  • Jobs involving very large parts that require two people for material handling purposes or that might pose a danger to press brake operators

"It has to fit the work envelope, and it's got to be within the weight limits of the press brake. Obviously, if it fits that, I would say that we are pretty open to what we put in there," he said.

The key to his robotic bending cell is that a nearby press brake operator oversees a manual brake and the automated cell. The opportunity to perform two bending jobs simultaneously—one on the automated cell and one on the manual press brake, even if the job on the robotic press brake took extra time to set up when compared to a traditional brake.

3. How much time will be spent on programming?

All sources will agree that programming of robotic bending cells has improved tremendously over the years and helped to eliminate the need for a robotics engineering degree to program an automated cell.

All a programmer needs is a CAD model, and upon submission of the data, the software will generate a recommended bend sequence and instructions to run the cell. In some instances, software might need to be checked with an actual inspection of how a part runs through the bending sequence, but other software developers indicate that this might not even be necessary.

4. Besides the capital equipment investment, what other areas will require investment?

You can't talk about robotics without talking about safety. The question is whether a fabricating shop wants to invest in a physical barrier or a more open safety system using light curtains. Both have trade-offs.

A safety cage is the least expensive solution, but it does eat up floor space, always a premium in a metal fabricating shop. For example, a bending cell from one major machine tool builder measures 40 by 17 feet, which includes the loading robot, but does not include room to accommodate the safety enclosure. For a cramped shop floor, this might not make sense.

For those interested in light curtains, take note that they could be going off when least expected.

The problem with light beams, not that they shouldn't be used, is that most people don't know where they are. Someone might be casually walking through a shop, wave their arm, and they shut down the cell unknowingly.

However, the use of light curtains provides the perception of a more open shop and might make sense for the company with tight controls over people entering the shop floor and very clearly marked cell boundaries.

Based on the programming, these libraries automatically load and unload in both the upper and lower toolholders. These tool changers also have punch and die inverters that rotate tools for mounting in either of the toolholders.