Metal fabrication is broken up into only a few different basic processes: Cutting, Bending. and joining metal. A majority of our tools will revolve around these types of metal fabrication but there are many different ways to achieve these basic actions. Bending metal for instance is a simple idea and you can even bend metal with your bare hands if you’re strong enough (or the metal is thin enough!), but that doesn’t give you the accuracy that you may want on your project. We offer a few different sheet metal brakes and they work well for making crisp bends in thin gauge metal, but won’t budge thicker metals like 14 gauge and up. This is where a Press Brake comes into play and is a necessary tool in any fabrication shop.
How Do Press Brakes Work?
Press Brakes work on a fairly simple concept. There’s a male and female die. the male die is on top and usually has a fairly sharp edge on it. this edge may be rounded slightly depending on the job or the clearance needed on the inside radius of the bend. The lower half of the die will have a concave shape that matches the bend radius the press brake can make. On large, industrial press brakes these dies can be interchanged to get custom, and very specific bends made in different materials.
The most common press brakes for a home shop are a supporting accessory you can add to your hydraulic or manual press. Using one of these will allow you to quickly bend small parts in thicker gauge metal than you could do cold by hand. There are crude ways to bend thicker metal with a vise, heat, and a hammer, but it is difficult to be accurate and to duplicate bends. For the beginner or budget-minded we also offer a press brake you can install in your vise. Our vise-mounted press brake allows you to bend thicket metals by tightening the vise handle with your hands. There is some labor involved, but it is still more accurate and easier than using other more crude methods.
Electronic Press Brakes
Electronic Press Brakes are becoming more and more popular and are great for production shops where you may want to replicate the same part over and over again. These usually have a digital read out for bend radius and you can set up parameters of the bends in the machine. These often work with an electro-mechanical drive system and take some of the human error out of bending parts. The downside is that these machines are usually large, heavy, and quite expensive. If you’re a home hobbyist, a smaller hydraulic or manual press brake add-on for your press may be a better use of your money.
Whatever you’re doing, you will need to bend metal accurately and a metal brake is a necessity in both professional and hobby shops alike. See the entire line of Eastwood brakes HERE.