Retrofitting Wila Pressbrake Tooling System

Retrofitting Wila Pressbrake Tooling System

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New lease on life

Even if a press brake is 10 or 20 years old, it might still be reliable enough to add new components or modifications to bring it up to modern standards. To do so, the team at Wila USA can optimize everything between the ram and the bed: the tool holders, tooling system and related auxiliary equipment. The process starts by assessing whether a press brake is a candidate for an upgrade or if it’s time to be put out to pasture. 

“It starts with a physical inspection,” says Gunter Glocker, senior advisor at Wila, “checking the wear on the guides, rails and so on. This is fairly simple as you can easily see if there are pits in the bed or if the ram is worn out. The assessment also includes a conversation with the customer about the repeatability of their machine. It’s fairly straightforward, and as it turns out, a lot of customers know long before we talk to them whether their press brake is still good or if the wear is too excessive and it’s time to move on.”

When older style press brakes are upgraded with Wila’s clamping systems and precision tooling, operators discover reduced setup times and increased throughput.

For the press brakes that are still mechanically sound, the transformation can be significant. By incorporating new components into the machine, such as a new crowning system, hydraulic clamping and precision tooling, a customer can expect major increases in productivity.

“Our goal is to assess each situation individually, asking customers about the biggest hurdles they face with their older machine,” Glocker explains. “We ask them about any quality or setup time issues that they’re experiencing and about their business goals and restrictions. From there, solutions for an upgrade come into light.”

The benefits of upgrading an older press brake are far reaching. But the main advantages include faster setup times, higher part quality, increased flexibility and throughput, as well as improved operator safety. Once the decision to upgrade has been made, the actual process of retrofitting the machine requires only a few hours.

Safety-click technology from Wila allows operators to vertically load and unload punches that weigh up to 28 lbs., significantly improving speed and safety in vertical tool changes.

Quality control

Thanks to the precision-ground tooling and tighter tolerances that come from an upgrade, operators see part quality and consistency rise. Glocker says that instead of having to go through one, two or three parts to get accurate bends, operators get it right the first time. The result is less time spent on setups and a major reduction in scrap.

Depending on the style – Wila offers a few different lines and brands – the tooling has ±0.0004-in. accuracy or ±0.0008-in. accuracy. The company’s tool holders are also built to that accuracy.

“Throughout the life of a machine, much of the bending is done in the center, which is where you’ll find most of the wear,” Glocker says. “Even if it’s a newer machine, if you’re dealing with 10-ft. to 14-ft. ram lengths, you’re going to have some tolerances that are off. With our top and bottom holders, you can adjust those up or down and front to back and take out those tolerances.”

These days, finding operators that are capable of fine-tuning an older machine grows increasingly difficult. Therefore, the benefits of repeatability, consistency and getting a good part out the first time are crucial. With an upgrade, almost any operator can deliver short part runs with ease.

“Another thing to keep in mind is that once a part makes its way to the press brake, it’s already been value-added,” Glocker says. “An example of that could be a part that’s been laser cut with holes. Especially when you’re dealing with high-cost materials, you don’t want to scrap those parts once they get to the press brake.”

Flexible, fast

In addition to higher tolerances and higher quality parts, a press brake that has been retrofitted with precision tooling will deliver more flexibility in setups and more overall shop throughput. This allows operators to focus more of their time on making actual parts. With a new hydraulic clamping system, the tooling is automatically seated and aligned in seconds versus the time-consuming task of manually adjusting, loosening and tightening the tooling for each job.

Additionally, modern precision-style tooling enables air bending, which means an operator can do the same amount of work with fewer tools. With air bending, all angles larger than the angle of the punch or die can be formed. And as Glocker says, “The fastest tool change is having to not change a tool at all.”

A press brake upgrade also allows a shop owner to take better advantage of upstream and downstream capacity. Faster part setups will, of course, increase throughput, but higher quality parts also benefit downstream operations.