_E-Brake_35-100TTheoretically, using a press brake to bend material is a case of applying basic trigonometry. Operators force a flat material into a V opening and bend it until you achieve the desired angle. 

Especially when you’re working with thin-gauge material, however, bending becomes much more complicated. Small variances – like minor deviations from the beam positions or wrinkling material – can cause big problems and produce defective parts.

 An article in the March 2016 edition of Canadian Fabricating and Welding delved deeper into this issue. We’ve highlighted some of its main points, including common problems operators encounter when bending thin material, tips for successfully coining and air bending, and bend measuring devices that can help guarantee the right bend every time. 

Overcoming Common Challenges Associated with Bending Thin Material 

Some of the biggest challenges operators face when bending thin materials include: 

  • Achieving the proper radii on your punches and dies. Having too large a die radius gives the material too much space to move around. The same logic applies to the punch radius. If it’s too big, that creates problems as the material will be more prone to warping as you’re applying downward pressure.
  • Guaranteeing the correct V-Die channel. When you’re air bending using a press brake, the V-Die channel is usually eight times the material thickness. As the material thickness decreases, that ratio will do down.
  • Springback will become more of an issue since you’re not bending as deep or applying as much pressure. To minimize springback, you can either overbend or hold the pressure down for slightly longer. 

Coining and Air Bending Thin Materials 

Coining often requires operators to use high tonnages, which can be a problem if you’re working with thinner materials. 

Exerting too much pressure on thin materials can cause

  • Tools to wear more quickly and easily
  • Die markings to be created around the part’s edge
  • The material to weaken at its radius, making it more prone to failure and resulting in broken parts 

It’s important to work with caution when coining, thin delicate material. 

Air bending requires less tonnage than coining and is generally quicker, since the operator doesn’t need to complete trials or adjustments. Air bending will, however, require different bend reductions than coining. Operators will need to resize some of their blanks when air bending thin materials. 

Quality Materials and Careful Handling are Key to Successful Bending 

Especially with thin material, it’s important to work with quality materials to ensure the best results. 

To prevent burrs forming on the material’s edge, operators should ensure that

  • The tooling cutting the material is sharpened
  • Proper clearances are used on turrets
  • The laser beam is focused properly 

If unchecked, burrs will drag along the die and cause growth on the flange. 

Making the right decisions when it comes to bending thin materials will become easier with more practice. With more firsthand experience using the machines in their shop, operators will find themselves on the road to becoming seasoned and skilled press brake operators. 

Westway Machinery is the Canadian leader in press brakes, proudly distributing SafanDarley electric models and Baykal hydraulic press brakes. Contact us to find out more about our products and services. 

For a complete guide to press brakes, click here. 

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