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Does your shop need a custom press brake tool?

Asking these four questions will help uncover bending options

February 12, 2021

A print lands on your desk, and the bending requirements look unusual. It doesn’t look like any tool from your toolroom or even an off-the-shelf tool from a catalog would really work. Does the job require a custom press brake tool? Historically, the application analysis has involved the usual suspects, including accuracy requirements, volume, throughput, and worker ergonomics.

Say the print calls for an offset with an unusual radius and angle, and each needs to be formed within tight tolerances. Such accuracy requirements might lead you to a specially made offset tool, particularly if the part is a high-volume one. Even if the tolerances weren’t so tight and an operator could use a conventional punch and V die, he would probably find it difficult to flip the large part to form the offset’s positive and negative bends. This would lead to poor ergonomics and potentially abysmal throughput.

Today those accuracy, volume, throughput, and ergonomics factors are as relevant as ever, but new approaches to special press brake tools have broadened the options. These include 3D-printed inserts and even custom backgauges. Special adapters have also made some form tools, originally designed for the punch press, to work on the press brake.

Every strategy regarding special press brake tooling depends on the application as well as a fabricator’s available equipment and forming expertise. Regardless, the strategy should start with a few questions that, if answered well, should reveal the gamut of special tooling options available. Once you know your options, you then can determine the best path forward.

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