How Does A Hydraulic Press Brake Work?


Hydraulic press brakes are common sights in many industrial environments.  Basically, a press brake is a machine that is used to bend and shape different sheet metal products.  The power of the hydraulic system creates the force necessary to compress the metal into new shapes.  Press brakes are invaluable pieces of equipment that make the whole manufacturing process more efficient.

Basic Function
With a hydraulic press brake, the sheet of steel feeds into the aligns itself over a mold called a ‘die’.  The press brake lowers a press or boom to forcefully push the metal into the die.  From there, the metal is shaped into whatever kind of shape the die or mold is set to.  Hydraulic press brakes use computers and electronics to get the metal aligned properly and so the timing is perfect with each piece.  In many cases, the machine operator operates some of the functions of the brake with a foot pedal. 

Materials Used
A hydraulic press brake takes in and molds metal sheets that are typically between 1/16-inch to ¼-inch thick.  The metal that is shaped by a press brake isn’t heated, but it is the force of the machine itself that causes it to bend the way it does.  Any metal that is used in a press brake must be malleable or they won’t work.  Some of the common types that are used include softer types of steel, aluminum, tin, copper, brass and others.  One example of how a hydraulic press brake is used is to form aluminum into siding for houses.

Most press brakes have a few different operational cycles or settings, depending on the desired result.  In a manufacturing type of setting, it may be necessary to switch from one setting to another.  Different settings might also be used to help make the operator’s job easier.

Some typical settings include ones where the movement of the machine must be controlled precisely by the operator.  Auto cycles mean the machine can run continuously and complete the exact same shape over and over again for larger orders or less detailed work.

Hydraulic press brakes make for a higher quality end product regardless of the type of metal that is being formed.  Higher quality products reduce having to do orders over again and ultimately increases sales by bringing in new business and retaining current customers.

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This post is brought to you by Tom Wilson. For metal fabrication tools and equipment, he looks to Empire Machinery & Tools Ltd. 390 Eagle Dr Box 20 Group 200 RR 2 Winnipeg, MB R3C 2E6 (204) 779-7791, the leading distributor of metal machinery in Canada since 1987.

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