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Tooling changeover can be a pressing issue

It’s tough for a press brake department to keep up when jobs coming through are for small quantities, each requiring tooling changeover time. Low-count batches and a high variety of part configurations can combine to spell bottleneck. But that’s the way manufacturing has been going, and there is no indication, especially in small shops, that…

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Bending basics: Streamlining press brake setup

Press brake setup is without argument one of the most difficult tasks any precision sheet metal shop faces. With all of the variables—small variations in material thickness within the same gauge, grain direction, bending methods, tooling choices, and the technician’s skill level, to name just a few—it’s no wonder press brake setup often takes far…

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Bending software streamlines press brake department

Ben knew what his setup person was about to say. It had become routine for the press brake department supervisor. Another day, another part that can’t be formed to the tolerance specified on the print. This time the quandary involved certain flanges that, if bent to spec, would force other overall dimensions out of tolerance,…

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Job shop estimating: Compatibility issues

This edition of Precision Matters continues our detailed examination of estimating as a business process. The previous edition covered the need to retrieve the manufacturing history. Even when history is available, the current and future circumstances of the shop will require the estimator to make certain evaluations of compatibility as part of the bidding process….

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Job shop estimating: A business process examined in 12 steps

This edition of Precision Matters launches our detailed examination of estimating as a business process. However, we must start with a disclaimer: Your estimating process is better than mine. We are merely offering a benchmark that might be useful for comparison. We would be delighted to hear from you to help us correct errors and…

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What sheet metal shops wish you knew: Reasonable tolerances, grain direction, and the base flange

A reader recently asked for guidance in using 3-D CAD for sheet metal parts. This guidance, continued here in the second part of a four-part series, is partially related to design and largely related to communication. Once the “trade secrets” are revealed, the modeling choices become less mysterious. As described in Part I of this…

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Why is it called a press brake?

Question: Why is a press brake called a press brake? Why not a sheet metal bender or a metal former? Does it have to do with the old flywheel on mechanical brakes? The flywheel had a brake, like that on a car, allowing me to stop the motion of the ram before the forming of the…

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Panel benders, folding machines, and other alternatives for bending big sheet metal workpieces

A press brake may have sufficient safeguarding, including light curtains on the sides and cameras or lasers detecting objects just below the punch tip. But all the safeguarding technology in the world can’t make the press brake operator’s back feel better. Historically it’s been common to see two brake operators straining to lift a large…