Small-Batch BendingFor manufacturers, one-off jobs are becoming more common, but prospering from these small projects can be a big challenge.  Small parts with few bends can be easy to produce. Add multiple, complex angles and the process becomes more difficult. This topic is the focus of “It’s All a Setup!” published in the December issue of Canadian Industrial Machinery.

We’ve highlighted some key points to help you make the most of small-batch bending:

How to Successfully Bend Small Batches

There are three major factors that impact cycle time:

  1. Setup: Creating the bending program, loading tools correctly, making necessary adjustments to the system , and checking the thickness of the material
  2. Bending: Part handling, the actual bending time, and ram positioning
  3. Making necessary adjustments and corrections while bending

Ultimately, good preparation is the first key to successful bending. Experienced operators know the value of a well-planned setup and will spend 60 to 70 percent of their time on actions other than bending.

Ensure Accuracy 

To make sure you get off to a good start, accurate setup is crucial. First, verify that the backgauge is properly calibrated and the machine is correctly aligned. From there, you can take advantage of the advanced control features, software, and automation modern press brakes offer to simplify complex bending projects. 

To accelerate and fine-tune the process, operators can shift programming offline and use intelligent controls that rely on databases of empirical information to guarantee speed and compliance. Advanced 3D software – can  walk operators through their jobs, showing the bend order for an individual part. Angle measurement systems automatically inspect every piece, delivering up to ±0.3 degree accuracy.

Streamline Tooling Setup

Getting tools in and out quickly will mean faster production and cycle times. Using fixed-type tooling or common-shut-height systems  – means that different tools can exist in the brake at the same time and working height, allowing the operator to stage the complete setup – loading a gooseneck beside an acute next to an offset. A modular tooling system is another solution, providing lengths of tools that can be grouped together.

What about setup assistance?

  • A light strip can help an operator locate the correct toolkit for precise, quick loading.
  • A press brake with an automatic tool-change system will accurately locate the punch and die on the ram and table, eliminating the need for the operator to manually move them.

Operators must pay attention to the order in which parts are produced, group common setups together to minimize changes, and take other necessary steps to make production as efficient as possible.

Keep Operators Comfortable

Adding ergonomic features to existing machinery – or buying new equipment with those benefits built in – can reduce operator fatigue and boost overall productivity. Shops can incorporate an integrated light guard system into their press brakes, programmed to work independently without a foot pedal. When it comes to workspaces, consider multiple surfaces or tables that are adjustable or have convenient cut-outs so the operator can easily sit, stand, and move around as necessary.

Final Tips

  • Always use the right machine for the right job, and exercise rigid quality control.
  • Pay attention to where tooling is staged and stored relative to the location of the machine, as well as its positioning on the transfer cart. Did the cart have to travel far? Consider automated tool storage and loading to enhance efficiency.
  • Make sure the controls allow quick changeover from one program to another, letting operators move seamlessly between parts.
  • Take advantage of offline programming to boost productivity and kick-start revenue growth. 

Recommended Machinery

Westway is the Canadian leader in press brakes. We enjoy exclusive partnerships with leading manufacturers of hydraulic and electric models, specifically Baykal and SafanDarley.

If your shop is currently considering a new press brake, take a look at:

  • SafanDarley E-Brake, 35-1250 with Ergonomic Package
  • SafanDarley E-Brake, 100-3100
  • Baykal APHS 31120-7axis

At Westway Machinery, our experts will help you find the best equipment to get the job done right.

Maximizing efficiency and productivity starts with having the right equipment and tools for the job. At Westway Machinery, we are experts in metal forming and fabrication machinery. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services. 

For a complete guide to press brakes, click here.

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