Finding The Best Sheet Metal Brake For The Job

Sheet metal brake aka sheet metal breakThis type of machine/equipment is used to bend metal into different shapes that are then used in auto body repair shops, ventilation systems, and by installers of windows and gutters.

Sheet metal brake machines can be large (weighting several thousands of pounds) or you can get a portable version, which is used by many window siding installers.? Although a portable sheet metal brake (commonly misspelled – sheet metal break) is not as advanced as the larger version, it is more than effective to perform basic metal shaping needs.

Different types of sheet metal brakes for sale include:

  1. Cornice metal breaks only allow for straight, simple metal bends to be created.
  2. Box & Pan Brake (also referred to as a “bending brake” or a “sheet metal folder”).? The advantage that this machine has over the cornice break is that the clamping bar is broken down to several blocks that are easily removable, and can be arranged to form a variety of shapes/bends along the piece of metal. The clamping that the box and pan metal break uses can be manually or automatically operated. Once the box is formed, it is secured together by screws and rivets or welded together.
  3. Bar Folder brake machines are considered one of the simplest ways to bend metal. Typically, it is much smaller than the box and pan type or the cornice. The depth created by the folder sheet metal break is usually shallower than the aforementioned machines are capable.
  4. Box and pan Sheet metal brakePress Brakes are a more complicated version of bending sheet metal, as many pre-determined shapes can be created, by having the workpiece clamped between matching punch holes.

Sizes of used sheet metal brakes vary greatly, from hand-held versions made from light aluminum or brass, up to hydraulic sheet metal brake machines that are often used in large industries, to bend/shape large sheets of metal/steel quickly and effectively.

Basic components of a standard sheet metal brake:

  1. BED – The bed is a flat area that the piece of metal is placed on, before processing can begin.
  2. CLAMP PLATES are found sitting parallel to the “bed”, and holds the metal piece securely in place during the bending process.
  3. A BAR/BENDING PLATE is attached to the bed’s edge by hinges.

As the brake press engages, the bar hinges moves upward, and bends the metal piece that is clamped between the “plate” and the “bed”. A measurement of 120 degrees is usually the angle of the bend. Certain variables (such as the thickness of the metal) will adjust this angle.

After the metal is formed by a sheet metal brake, it can then be coated with a clear finish or finished/coated with other options, such as a white, bronze, brushed gold or black anodized for a totally new look.

New or used sheet metal brakes are made from a variety of metals, including (but not limited to) brass, aluminum and stainless steel.

Material formed by break metal machinery is used for railings, column wraps, architectural detail and framing (just to mention a few).

Sheet metal brakes and the ability to bend metal is important to many industries and homeowners. Consider that it may not be necessary for a homeowner to invest in the many options of sheet metal brakes for sale, as many large tool companies rent sheet metals breaks to homeowners, whom may only need to replace a section of aluminum siding or a gutter.

Know Your Press Brake Tonnage

hydraulic press brakePress brakes are used for bending sheets of metal to a certain angle using tooling known as dies and punches. Although that sounds rather straightforward, choosing the right press brake is not a simple process. To make a wise and informed decision it requires researching series of different factors to determine which press brake options best meet your needs.

Components of a Press Brake

Brake presses usually have an upper and lower section. The upper section holds a piece of tooling such as a punch that normally has a V shape. The lower section holds a matching shape referred to as the die. When the two sections of the press brake are moved together it forces the metal sheet in between to bend.


It is important to identify the nature of the job the press brake will be doing because over 40 different types of forming, cutting and drawing operations can be performed on a press brake. ?Some operations must be done alone and other operations can be done in combination.

Failing to consider the characteristics of the press brake can be an expensive mistake. ?It is also important to know what tooling will be needed and if special dies will need to be made or sourced.

The type of metal is also critical to know in order to ensure the press brake has capabilities adequate for the job.? General industry press brake ratings are based on mild steel with a tensile strength of approximately 60 ksi (415 MPa).

Metals with higher tensile strengths require proportionately greater tonnage and will have different working characteristics. Some high-strength metals work best when pre-heated prior to bending because they are more brittle than mild steel.

One must also consider the raw material tolerances because there are variations in piece to piece milling metals that can run as much as 50% in hardness and 10% in thickness. Foreign metals often vary even more.? These variations make it important to plan for reserve tonnage in order to prevent overloads of machine stalls.


Press brake tonnage refers to the maximum bending pressure or bending capacity of a press brake.? It is expressed as the force in tons exerted by the press against a workpiece.

The tonnage the press can exert is a function of the torque it develops as well as the strength and size of its parts.? Just as important as tonnage is the energy requirements of the press.

Press Brake Tonnage Chart

(Click to enlarge)

press brake tonnage chart



Click here to access a press brake tonnage calculator

All brake presses should have an energy rating as well as the maximum tonnage rating.? Every job that is completed needs tonnage and that tonnage must be pushed through a specific distance. When one multiplies the tonnage by the distance the result is the energy in inch-tons that is required to do the work

The first factor to consider in purchasing a press brake is the bending force or tonnage required. In order to calculate that number, you can use formulas or refer to manufacturer tonnage charts. The tonnage required depends on the thickness and length of the plates you will use as well as the metal that will be bent.

Bend Length

The second factor to consider is how long the bend will be. You cannot bend anything longer than the maximum capacity of the brake you choose. For example, if the press brake you want to buy has a maximum bend length capacity of 2 feet then you cannot create a bend longer than 2 feet.

It is crucial to verify that the press brake you choose can handle all parts or sheets from the smallest to the biggest required bending lengths.

Back Gauge

Finally, the back gauge is one of the most critical parts of the brake press. It positions the metal part before bending. It is important to make sure that the back gauge can be easily and quickly changed. A lot of time and productivity can be lost when it takes too long to change or readjust the back gauge.

Pneumatic, Hydraulic or Mechanical?

Another consideration is whether the brake press will be pneumatic or hydraulic. Pneumatic presses use air pressure to create tonnage on the ram and they are designed for smaller jobs that do not require a lot of tonnage. Hydraulic presses have two or more synchronized hydraulic cylinders on the C frames that move the upper and the lower tooling.

In a hydraulic press servo-electric brakes utilize a servomotor to drive a ball screw or belt drive to create tonnage on the ram. Hydraulic presses can move up or down at any point in their operation and can even be tilted by putting different tonnages on each cylinder.

This allows more complicated crowning control. These presses are superior for heavy-duty machinery and bigger jobs because they offer greater accuracy, safety and control. Mechanical presses are no longer manufactured due to safety concerns although used mechanical presses are still available on the market.

In a mechanical press an electric motor is used to add energy to a flywheel. When an operator starts the machines a clutch connects the flywheel to a crank mechanism that moves the ram vertically. Mechanical presses are not very accurate nor can the speed of the ram be controlled.

Mechanical presses are not a good choice for high-end fabrication applications.? They can be used successfully in shops that do not need accuracy or control.

The best way to determine the best press brake for your situation is to consult a manufacturer’s tonnage chart. Begin by narrowing down your choice of manufacturer and then begin to study their press brake materials.

It is very helpful to speak directly with the manufacturer to discuss your specific needs because they are very familiar with their press brake products and what applications each machine is best able to handle based on all of the factors discussed in this article and the complexity of a specific client process or application.

Metal Bending Machines, Brakes & Manual Benders

metal bendingA bending machine is the piece of equipment that is used to bend a flat piece of metal into a specific irregular shapes. CNC bending machines are one of the most recent technologies that deliver cost effective precision to metal shaping.

Universal metal bending machines easily adjust to accommodate a variety of shapes, and can be upgraded and customized at the users need.

A bending brake is a machine used by metal workers, to easily and effectively bend metal into a variety of shapes. A cornice bending brake machine is great for creating creases and simple bends.

A box and plan bending brake machine allows for more versatility, as it goes beyond simple bends, and the user can create box and pan shapes by removing and/or rearranging the blocks. Once it is formed (bent), then the box shape is then seared by welding, soldering, screwing or riveting them together.

Usually metal bender machines fall into four different bending categories, and they are (a) Rotary-draw (b) Compression (c) Roll and (d) Stretch. Each type, of course, has limitations and advantages.

Rotary-draw metal benders are commonly used to bend pipes and tubes.

Compression metal bending machines are used when material needs to be bent more than double the radius of the tube.

Metal bender tools/attachments

rotary draw bending

  1. Standard tool attachments are classified by the type of bend generated. All bends that do not have an extraordinary geometric design are considered to be a “standard” bend.
  2. Offset bending tools are used when 2 bends are required (with a gap between the pieces). This is created in one step with this metal bending attachment.
  3. U-Bending (narrow bends) is achieved with a bending mandrel.
  4. Edge bending tools are needed to create highly accurate angular measurements.
  5. Torsion metal bending tools are used when the workpiece needs to rotate on its longitudinal axis.

Metal bending techniques

Air bending is considered to be a very common type of metal bending technique.? Basically, the metal piece comes in contact with the punch tip and outer edges of the die. The punch is then forced in the “V” shaped opening and the shape is created.

air bending processBottom bending is the metal bending technique that is used when the angle of the finished piece should identically match the die angle.

The three roll push (also known as “TRPB”) is basically a free form way to bend geometric shapes that consist of several simple curves. During this process, the metal pieces are guided between the supporting and the bending rolls, and pushed toward the tool.

The roll metal bending technique is used to form coils when a piece of metal is passed through three rollers, which apply pressure that causes this type of bend.

Heat induced metal bending techniques requires temperatures starting at 800 degrees, and can exceed 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the coil has reached the desired temperature, it is placed against the metal to form a shape. After the bend/shape is achieved, then the metal is cooled via a water or air spray.

Final Word

When considering a metal bender purchase, it is advised to analyze your needs, and what exactly your final results should be. Other considerations should include the type, size and shape of material you plan to bend. Also, the daily quantity output is also going to play a significant role in your final purchasing decision.

Check out our variety of Metal Bending Machines, Brakes & Manual Benders for sale Here

CNC Press Brake vs. Hydraulic Press Brake Operators

hydraulic press brake? ? ? ? ? ? A press brake (also referred to as a brake press) is a machine that is used to bend material (such as sheet metal). Pre-determined bends are formed, when the workpiece is clamped between a punch and a die.

This type of machine usually is equipped with a wedge shaped die (upper portion), that forces the metal down and into a V-shaped die that bends the metal.

Some of the main parts of press brakes include:

End Frames (also referred to as the “housing”) are a heavily constructed support system for the machine.

The brake carries the material without causing any disruption of the form.

Press Brake Components

A bolster plate is the part that supports and correctly positions the die assembly.

The bed is the stationary surface for the lower blade.

The ram is the part that carries the upper blade. It is usually positioned on the front of the end frames and moves vertically.

The gib provides an easy sliding area for the ram, and the drive gives vertical propulsion to the slide.

When shopping for a press brake for sale, it is important that you go into the experience educated, and know exactly what you are looking for – especially when considering a used press brake.

Some of the more popular brands of press brakes include: Niagara, Wysong, Cincinnati, and Chicago and each come in a variety of sizes, with many different types of options.

??????????? Small Press Brakes are categorized as being less than 25 tons. Although a small press brake is good only for constant light work, many shops have a smaller press as a back up to their main system.

When looking at smaller press brakes for sale, the following things should be taken into consideration:

  1. The bed should not be bolted to the frame, but it should be welded.
  2. The bed and the ram should be big enough to prevent deflection.
  3. Steel gearing is recommended on small brake presses.
  4. A small press brake should have at least two speed options and a ram position indicator.

??????????? Hydraulic Press Brakes are one of the safest types of systems, but they are also considered to be one of the most costly. Although they have better control and accuracy, they are generally slower in the overall process.

Basically, there are two large forms that a piece of sheet metal is pressed between. The pressure of the press is created via liquid movement, and the ultimate goal is to form the metal into certain types of shapes.

A minor disadvantage, to a hydraulic press brake machine, is the fact that it must remain properly lubricated or the entire machine will seize. It may seem cumbersome and time consuming, but the disaster that could occur, if the machine is not well lubricated, certainly outweighs any inconvenience that it may require, to keep this machine functioning properly.

CNC Press Brake Operator

Brake press operator

A brake press operator is the person who controls the machine that assists in the shaping and bending of sheet metal.

Being able to read blueprints is an important prerequisite of being a brake press operator, in addition to being able to take accurate measurements, and to feed raw material into the machine.

CNC press brakes are commonly found in large plants, and automatically bends and punches holes into material, according to instructions that are programmed into the computer by the operator.

Other important skills needed to be brake press operator include:

  1. Due to the fact that a brake press machine has multiple levels and settings that need to be constantly adjusted – it is important that an operator have exemplary and steady motor skills.
  2. Mathematical and analytical skills are also important to a press brake operator, because they must interpret blueprints/templates/drawings, and read gauges and other measurements, to make proper adjustments to the machine.
  3. In addition, they should have a background of effectively and confidently using power (and hand) tools, such as anvils, grinders and hammers.
  4. Excellent organization skills are a quality that every brake press operator should possess, at it comes in handy when arranging material necessary at the start of each new job.

The duties that a brake press operator will be performing include:

  1. Inspecting material before and after pressed.
  2. Operators are expected to keep work area and machines clean and organized.
  3. All company policies and procedures must be known and followed.
  4. Basic maintenance of the equipment (such as filter and oil change) is a duty of a brake press operator, and necessary to ensure that the machine is running properly.

Brake press operators can make a steady salary of approximately $50K a year.

CNC brake presses

A brake press operator needs to be specially trained to operate this highly complex piece of machinery.

By reading/studying blueprints (plans), the CNC brake press operator makes a determination on the exact angles and dimensions needed to achieve the final results.? Once all the information is inputted, the operator then feeds the sheet metal into the base (or feeding bar) of the machine to begin the process.

After the piece has been made, the operator must carefully inspect the finished product, to ensure that it meets all the specifications. If necessary, the operator can make adjustments to the programmed code and start the process from the beginning.

The New Press Brake Technologies

Historically, a mechanical gear pump has received its pressure through a hydraulic operated press brake that would bring oil to the machines pistons. Although this process contains a few benefits, there are also some disadvantages that come along with it.

For instance, a hydraulic press brake will repeatedly maintain its power regardless of whether or not the machine is actually moving. Additionally, these can be relatively loud and can create extreme shaking within the machine.

Probably the worst part of all, when the hydraulic press brakes is manufactured, the extreme heat that is required will cause unavoidable ram movement that makes it very difficult to meet certain manufacturing specification guidelines.

In order to prevent this from happening, mechanical builders have started to create hybrid electric press brakes. Using both electric and hydraulic mechanics, hybrid press brakes continue to employ hydraulic energy through the ram while only being powered for a small percentage of the time. On top of that, the hybrid model transports precise positioning that no longer has to depend on the machines’ valve activity for guidance.

hybrid press brake

How the Hybrid Press Brake Operates

While there are various types of hybrid press brakes, the most frequently used of which are controlled by a motor that uses a covered cylinder that extends from a hydraulic receptacle. The cylinder is connected to a piston pump that it controls and brings hydraulic pressure to the different gears that operate the thick ball-screws.

For newly invented electric only press brakes, there are specific electronic motors that are operated by ram movement that is also assisted by technically designed belt operated ball-screw prototypes.? With a time activated belt system that circles the main pinion gear along with a gear that’s placed above the screw, the ball screw goes in and out of a large nut that is directly connected to the machines’ ram.

Although this is the most common type of electric press brake, there are other designs that operate on pulleys that power the ram. By using this design, there is a pulley-chord that aligns with the ram which is wound continuously at a lower level than that of a ball screw design.

The Advantages of the New Press Brake Systems

Of course, there are many benefits that are associated with upgrading your press brake system. The biggest advantage is that both the hybrid and electric press brakes are more eco-friendly and more energy efficient. A press brake that is electric will phase out the use of hydraulic oil and can cut the energy expenses in half.? Moreover, a hybrid uses about one-third the total oil that is required with a standard hydraulic brake.

View our latest selection of new and use press brakes here.

Custom Hydraulic Press Designed For Coining Operations

The Hydraulic Press

Hydraulic Press Production Silver Gold Coins
Coins can be produced using hydraulic presses.

Hydraulic presses are used in production facilities around the world for the manufacturing of many different metal parts. These include auto parts, shelving, medical equipment, and even punching and stamping of coins. A hydraulic press works by using hydraulic pressure to press material in between upper and lower plates or dies. These dies and press plates are specifically designed to form or stamp usable parts out of sheet metal, strip metal, and other metal workpieces.

Hydraulic presses are capable of applying tons of pressure to material, making it almost effortless to form or punch the part very quickly.

How Hydraulic Presses Are Used In The Coining Process

When it comes to manufacturing coins and tokens, hydraulic presses are used in a couple different ways. Typically, the silver, gold or copper will be processed into a thin strip, using other machinery. It is then annealed to bring the metal strip to the target hardness for the coin stamping process.

This strip is then inserted into the hydraulic press, which is equipped with specific diameter circular dies that fit into one another. Once the machine tool is activated, the top die will be pressed into the bottom die very quickly with tons of force — resulting in one or two blank coins being pushed through, onto a table or conveyor belt below.

These blank coins or tokens are then inspected, weighed and sometimes burnished to give the surface a rough appearance. Now, it’s time for the final press process, which is used to stamp rather than punch.

This process, commonly referred to as coining, begins by placing the blank coins or tokens into the bottom die. The bottom die will have circular indents the exact diameter of the blanks. Once the machine is activated, the top die will move downward quickly, making contact with the blank. Enough force is used to press the image of the dies into both sides of the coin simultaneously.

Now, this part of the stamping or coining process is also applicable in other industries such as the remanufacture brake shoes, for example. This process involves placement of the parts(s) into the press, which forms the top and bottom, according to the design of the dies. This happens simultaneously, once the machine is activated. The only major differences are the tonnage required to properly form the parts and the dies used, which are specific to the parts being formed.

New Hydraulic Coining Press

Greenerd Press & Machine Company, Inc recently manufactured a 1,000 ton hydraulic coining press with unique design traits aimed at reducing cycle time while improving part quality. This automatic press was designed for and is being used by Global Parts Networks, LLC (GPN) to remanufacture brake shoes.

This new machine tool is equipped with a 36” x 36” bed and adjustable stroke of up to 12”. It is a straight side 8-point gib guided hydraulic press with pressing rates up to 23” per minute.

The company is quite satisfied with the new custom designed machine, as it has proven reliable while significantly improving the efficiency and quality of produced parts. Finding the perfect hydraulic press for the parts being manufactured is important. It does not always take having a custom machine being built in order to properly form parts, but when efficiency and quality are important, a custom built machine tool such as this can definitely help.

Hydraulic Press Brake With Automatic Tool Changer & 220 Ton Capacity

The Latest Hydraulic Press Brake

A new 220 ton hydraulic press brake equipped with an automatic tool changer, known as the ToolCell?220/40,?was recently introduced by the LVD Strippit firm.?Previous ToolCell press brakes manufactured by the company up until now have offered superior metal bending operations, but have been limited only by capacity. Older models had as little as an 80 ton capacity; the newest ToolCell 220/40 model was manufactured with a much larger capacity of 220 tons and offers 160” bending length. ToolCell 220/40 The 220 Ton press brake is designed for small to medium batch production. Set up time is reduced and metal bending efficiency is maximized with its equipped automatic tool changer and tooling storage system.

Strippit ToolCell 220/40 Press Brake Features

Features of the Strippit 220 Ton press brake include:

  • Tools are automatically and precisely placed with the ToolCell 220/40 automatic tool changing technology; eliminating the need for manual adjustments of tooling.
  • Automatic unloading of previously used tool setup and loading of tool setup for the next process.
  • Tooling capacity of two rows of punches on top and five rows of Vee dies on bottom.
  • 220 Ton maximum bending capacity.
  • 160 inch bending length capacity.
  • Rigid frame with hydraulic and electronic real time angle control to ensure accuracy.
  • LVD’s patented Easy-Form? Laser ensures accuracy and consistency of every part with its auto correction and angle measuring technology.
  • 19-inch touch screen control panel known as the Touch-B.
  • CADMAN-OEE PC-based Windows? compatible process management software.

The Touch-B control panel can control all parameters of the machine via graphic icons. This machine tool can also be programmed offline using the CADMAN?-B Tool Changer module. Configurable machine options include adjustable stroke, open height front supports and sheet following units. The machine can handle metal bending and folding operations with more than six different tool setups per day and handle parts with multiple complex bending points. It also offers extremely accurate tool set placement; tools are always easy to find thanks to the tooling storage and holders. ToolCell press brakes offer everything a sheet metal industrial operation needs to efficiently produce sheet or plate metal parts. The machine operator can be preparing work pieces for the next job to be completed while the machine is automatically setting up the next tooling setup.

About The Company Behind The Press Brake

The LVD Group was founded in 1925 by George Wales. Wales developed a simple spring that proved to overcome stripping difficulties for material blanking operations. They were the first in the punching industry to develop fully guided self-stripping, self-contained tools. Since then, they have expanded to first manufacture a range of different metal fabrication products, then hydraulic press brakes in 1954. Next, they expanded to punch presses and load/ unload systems; they began introducing CNC machinery in the late 70’s. They are now a leading sheet metal machine tools manufacturer based in the U.S.A. and offer their machine tools worldwide. Their offered machinery includes machine tools like turret punches, guillotine shears, laser cutting machines, press brakes and automation systems.