When it comes to bending sheet metal – the press brake is a tried and true sheet metal machine that is a staple of any metal fabrication workshop. But there are some things to keep in mind when operating a press brake and certain common mistakes that should be avoided. Today we’re going to be taking a look at five key elements that you should always have at the front of your mind when operating a press brake.


1.     Keeping the machine clean

One of the easiest and most common mistakes to make is not cleaning your press brake. A dirty machine can lead to a myriad of problems that vary in severity. Some extreme cases could even lead to OH&S issues and also result in serious damage to the machinery. Additionally, allowing dirt and other particles to build up can actually damage the sheet metal you’re working on and impact the bend.

You should remove debris and oil with a dry cloth daily (oil can attract dust and dirt that may be floating around the shop floor) and use compressed air to clean the parts weekly. By maintaining a regular and proactive cleaning schedule, your press brake can be kept in prime operating condition and will also last longer.


2.     Ensure the tooling is correct and aligned

The right tooling is key to a smooth bend as using the wrong one could result in damage to both the sheet metal and the machine. Additionally, the tooling must be aligned properly so the machine can operate efficiently and accurately. Whilst the position of the punch will be fixed (granted the gibs are tight – which they should be), the die is adjustable. The centre of both the punch and die must be in the same plane for the length of the press brake to ensure correct alignment and precise machining results.


3.     Keep an eye out for worn tools

Unfortunately, the nose of a tool will wear down over time. How rapidly this happens will depend on how often each tool is used. Worn out tools will result in imperfect bends and could stifle productivity immensely – so it’s imperative you keep an eye on it and remedy the issue before it becomes an issue. If you find your machine is producing crooked flanges or erratic bends, it could be due to a worn-out tool.

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to both prevent and remedy this issue. For starters, always use the correct bend loads and recommended tolerances for each tool – your tool supplier will be able to help you with the specific tolerances – that way, you’re not unnecessarily overworking it. When your tool does eventually wear out, you can actually have it re-machined, which ends up being more cost-effective than purchasing a brand-new tool.


4.     Always know your bending load

The bending load is inherently important to not only a successful bend – but also to preventing machine damage. The bending load is determined by the metal type and thickness, required tooling and bending length. The idea is that the bending load can be distributed to avoid damage to the bend itself as well as the ram and tooling. The bending load should always be checked before using a press brake.


5.     Monitoring gibs

The gibs are the parts of a press brake that direct the ram and tool upwards and downwards. Gibs should be adjusted per the manufacturer’s recommended clearance. If there is too little clearance, then they’ll hold the ram as a brake, whereas too much clearance will make the ram float – resulting in inconsistent bends and negatively affecting flange widths. These should be adjusted every so often to account for the wear of the machine.


Are you looking for sheet metal machinery in Melbourne?

Whether you’re just starting a workshop or are looking to add more machines to your existing shop, ACRA Machinery has you covered. With a wide range of new and used sheet metal machines from some of the world’s most trusted brands like Durma and Jorns, you’ll be pretty hard-pressed not to find the right metal fabrication machine for your workshop.

Looking to repair your machine or schedule a regular maintenance service? ACRA can handle that for you too. Our on-site repair and maintenance service is designed to be simple and accommodating to your needs. Our experts know there way around fabrication machines and can bring them back to optimal operating capacity in no time.

If you would like to get in touch with us regarding our products or require any advice, then please don’t hesitate to call us on 03 9794 6675 or fill out our online contact form.