How do you choose a new metal forming machine?

When it comes to bending, many Canadian fabricators buy press brakes. Whether it’s a Baykal hydraulic press brake or a SafanDarley electronic press brake, these machines are known for power and versatility.

But metal folding machines are becoming increasingly popular. They’re better suited for some tasks and materials.

Here’s how to pick between a folder and press brake:

press-brakeDetermine the Size of the Material You’ll Bend

Material sheet size must play a role in your decision. If you bend sheet metal that approaches 5 feet in width, you’ll prefer a folder over a press brake.

This is largely because of a press brake’s configuration. Let’s say an operator wants to create a bend at one end of the material. He’ll have to feed that end into the press brake. During the bending operation the press brake will angle the remaining – and much longer – section of material toward the operator’s face. This is awkward and potentially dangerous.

On the other hand, a folder keeps material flat as it creates bends. Long sheet metal won’t travel toward an operator’s face or have its movement restricted. As a result, the operation is much more manageable.

Click here to see a Tennsmith folder in action.

Consider Material Variety

Press brakes are more versatile than folders.

Though you can find folders to bend plate, they are typically used to bend lighter materials like gauge sheet metal. Press brakes can handle a wide range of material thicknesses.

If you work in a job shop, where you handle different tasks all day, you should probably look at a press brake. You’ll be prepared for almost any bending task involving almost any material.

Take Experience into Account

When you first began metal-forming work, you probably used a hand brake. At some point you may be have been required to work on a press brake.

There are still industries that largely rely on hand brakes instead of press brakes, but transitioning to a CNC folder will greatly boost productivity. These industries include:

  • Roofing
  • Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Anything else with lots of light-duty benchtop work

Switching to a press brake can be complicated. But it’s easy to transition from a hand brake to a folder.

This is because the two machines use the same process to bend metal. Folders simply rely on CNC bending and back gauging systems, whereas hand brakes depend on the operator.

Take your time when choosing between a folder and press brake. They’re both long-term investments. When you make the right selection, your productivity and bending capabilities will vastly improve.

>>Looking for a high-quality folder or press brake in Ontario or across Canada? Contact Westway Machinery today for expert advice and unbeatable selection.

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