These are both highly essential sheet metal machinery products that perform complex tasks in a workspace. One of the key similarities between the two is that they are both able to bend sheet metal – albeit through different processes. Bending sheet metal is a process that is widely-used across various different industries and can be seen in use during everyday life. Today we’ll be going in-depth with these processes and comparing the two to see how a slitter folder differs from a press brake.

Bending with a slitter folder

A slitter folder only requires a single set of tools to tackle any bending angle and will adjust itself automatically to suit the thickness of the sheet metal or other material. The piece of sheet metal is supported on a support table on the machine and a gauging system ensures that the sheet is positioned to the bending line appropriately. The majority of the sheet metal is clamped inside the machine – out-of-sight – whilst a folding beam moves from underneath and pushes the exposed part of the sheet upwards, thus bending it.

Slitter folders can withstand significant sizes of material thickness. In fact, regardless of how thick – or thin – the material is, the process will still be executed and completed the same way with a slitter folder. Bending with a slitter folder is also extremely ideal for if you’re dealing with a material whose surface you do not want to tarnish. Because the bending beam barely slides around at all when folding, no scratches are made to the material’s surface. For this same reason, the bending beam itself requires little maintenance and will rarely show signs of abrasion – even after years of use.

If you’re looking to bend angles less than 90°– for example if you’re trying to form a hexagonal or octagonal shape – then that’s also possible with a slitter folder through short bending segments. This particular type of sheet metal machinery is also able to bend sheets so that they curve – but without the visible presence of bending steps on the outside of the sheet. This essentially means that you’re able to create cylindrical–type shapes. No special tools are required for this process to be executed as well as the process of bending hems – which is also quite simple with a slitter folder.

Bending with a press brake

Bending sheet metal – and other materials – with a press brake can be a bit trickier in comparison to a slitter folder. The operator must manually hold the majority of the sheet whilst the short flange that is to be bent is positioned inside the machine. The die from the press brake presses downwards into the bending area on the sheet and it is bent to the desired angle. This can be a potential hazard as the operator must be paying full attention whilst the process is happening as they’re the ones offering the support to the rest of the sheet. 

Press brakes require multiple types of V die for different angles as well as sheet thicknesses. These dies also need to be monitored and replaced as they will deteriorate and wear over time – affecting the overall result of the bend. As opposed to a slitter folder which can manage with the single tool. Press brakes are also not very efficient for materials with sensitive surfaces as the V die will leave a considerable amount of visible scratches on the material when bending it.

Creating smaller bends and a radius with a press brake can prove to be difficult due to the way that the machine bends sheet metal. You will need well-trained operators and the process can end up taking a long time – certainly longer than if a slitter folder were to do the same thing. If you want to bend hems into a sheet then that is possible with a press brake – but you’ll need to fork out extra for specialist tools specifically designed for such tasks.

Looking for sheet metal machinery?

If you’re looking for sheet metal machinery – both new and used– then ACRA Machinery is your one-stop-shop for slitter folderspress brakes and other similar machines. Our highly experienced and knowledgeable staff will be able to direct you to the right machine for you and answer any questions you may have along the way.

If you would like to know more about our sheet metal machinery products, then please give us a call on 03 9794 6675. Alternatively, you can also fill out the enquiry form on our website.