The press brake is a piece of equipment that is utilized for bending sheet metal into a variety of forms and shapes. There are many operators who pick up their skills through trial and error while on the job. Others receive formal training and are certified in their trade. But, no matter how an operator learns the trade, precision bending requires that the operator has a keen understanding in primary areas; the role of the operator, the press brake machine, and the tooling.
The role of the operator: An outstanding operator should always be honing his craft through additional training and the implementation of new technologies within the industry. These operators should also have a well-rounded understanding of the entire fabrication process, from start to finish. This includes machine set-up, necessary fabrication times to meet the job specifications, and machine capabilities.
The Press Brake machine: there are several different types of press brake machines and each one has its own capabilities and limitations to consider, and maintenance requirements. These press brake types include; mechanical, hydraulic, retrofitted CNC, and full CNC brakes. Each machine type has its own capabilities, limitations, and setup times. Press brake operators must fully understand the differences of each machine, the forming times for each machine, and concentrated load limits associated with each tool. In most cases, operators are only fully trained on one machine type. Operators who exceed load limitations could cause significant damage to the machine and deform the products being made. Press brake operators must know the math of the machine.
Tooling: It is hardly possible to make quality parts with bad tooling. Different types of bending require different types of tooling. Expert press brake operators must have a complete understanding of the different tooling tolerances for every punch and die used.
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