Press brakes have always been considered a significant and remarkable tool in the fabrication industry. Since inclusion, they have simplified the bending process greatly. However, for the operation to be a bit more efficient, we are introduced to press brake automation.
Automation can speed up the production process and cut down on mistakes made by people. Manufacturers can get consistent and accurate results with automated systems. Automation also lessens setup time and boosts productivity. It helps businesses meet tight deadlines and handle more work.
In this article, we will discuss automating press brakes in detail. We will look into the types and benefits. Keep reading to explore this revolutionary upgrade.
Common Types of Press Brake Automation
There are different types and specifications of press brakes in the metalworking industry. Also, there are a lot of common automation systems out there. These systems use advanced technology to automate different parts of the bending process.
The following are some of the most common automation systems for press brakes:
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Systems
CNC press brakes are a new type of press brake. They move the machine using servos or electric motors as their main source of power. CNC press brakes are the most accurate because they use computers to work as quickly as possible.
There is also no need for hydraulic oil, so you do not have to worry about stopping leaks.
Press brakes are also commonly automated by utilizing robotics. Using robots to move and handle materials allows businesses to reduce the amount of manual labor required.
Robots can do most of the risky tasks for you- easily move heavy or awkwardly shaped objects. That means better efficiency and less risk of injury. Robotic systems can also be programmed to work together with human operators. It makes them even more flexible and productive.
Automatic Tool Changers
The automatic tool changer (ATC) solution lets tools, both upper and lower, be changed automatically. It helps to save time and work more efficiently. It enables manufacturers to handle a wide range of products and meet diverse customer demands.
Offline Programming Software
This software helps operators create and manipulate different programs while maintaining a distance from the press brake. Such programs might include:
- Checking out the bending process
- Finding any possible problems
- Making any necessary changes before the production starts
Benefits of Press Brake Automation
Before you start automating your press brake, you should look at the big picture. First, you need to ask yourself a very important question: Why do you want to automate?
And what better way can there be to answer this question than by looking at the benefits of automation? Let’s discover them.
Earlier, press brake setups could take a whole day or more. Long runs were necessary for the system to effectively operate.
However, offline programming and simulation have changed the productivity situation. Stand-alone machine programming software can now automate an array of different operations, like
- Tool selection
- Bend programs
- Robot programs
This means the operator only needs to make a few small changes to the job before it is ready to be done on the floor. That contributes to enhanced productivity.
The utilization rate also manifests how automation has increased productivity. Just so you know, manual brake press cells only work at 65% capacity. On the other hand, robotic automation has utilization rates closer to 80% to 90%.
Reduced Labor Content
Relying on technology and cutting down on labor go hand in hand with making operations more productive. Even with a simple system consisting of only a robot and a press brake, a lot less work will need to be done manually. As it stands, the operation runs without any help after the setup is complete.
Besides, smart scheduling software and intelligent gripping systems make things more efficient. Smart scheduling software can improve press brake output quality and consistency. It reduces idle, set up, and lead times. Conversely, intelligent gripping systems optimize robot grip force and position.
Improved Product Quality
With the manual operation of press breaks, the final outcome can be inconsistent. Automation eliminates such inconsistencies. When operators touch a part during the bending stroke, they might go too fast or too slow. This can change the final bend angle.
On the other hand, the bending robot always follows the part at the same speed and distance. This means that automated bending always results in very consistent bends.
Even if the bending cycle is very consistent, angles can still change. That’s because the material does not always have the same hardness or thickness. Using automatic angle measurement and correction can help in these situations.
Bending control devices can measure the bend angle. They track the bending robot’s movements and can instantly change the program. This allows them to generate the bend angle within very small ranges.
Bend Small or Large Parts
Robots have been used for years to help fabricators bend big, heavy parts. When these jobs are done by hand, they usually need more than one person to lift and move the workpieces. A large press brake with a heavy-payload robot can easily and safely form these parts.
Large systems can create heavy pieces faster than multiple operators. It saves twice as much labor and doubles the output.
Another aspect is bending small parts. If you bend them on a stand-alone brake, you should also be careful. Lifting and moving small parts might not hurt your back. But you have to put your hands very close to the tool zone, which can be dangerous.
Also, it can be hard to gauge small parts steadily because their flange lengths are so short.
There are now robots in automated systems that are made to bend parts of any size. For the safe and accurate making of small parts, robots can reach in and around the tool zone. However, they should be used with press brakes that have wide-open heights.
What You Need to Think About When Automating the Press Brake
It’s true that automation can significantly change the bending game of press brakes. Still, you can’t just automate these machines without any consideration.
Sometimes circumstances, like cost-benefit analysis or compatibility, will tell you to step back. That’s why here are some mandatory things that you have to ponder and guarantee before making any decision:
- Analyze whether the long-term benefits of automation are greater than the costs.
- Check your press brake processes for tasks that can be automated. You can look for the following ones:
- Repetitive tasks
- Time-consuming tasks
- Error-prone tasks
- Ensure that the automation system you choose is compatible with the size, capacity, and capabilities of your equipment. Take professional advice here if necessary.
- To ensure operators and technicians can operate and maintain the automated system, train them well.
- Choose automation systems with flexible programming and tooling. This is essential to meet changing production needs and maximize press brake equipment use.
Automation has been revolutionary in the metal-bending industry. And press brakes will surely be among the top ones when it comes to the beneficiaries of automation. Systems like CMC, ATC, and robotics have boosted many aspects of this incredible metal fabricating tool.
Using automation, you can now create a more productive and secure working environment. It’s also possible to get a top-class bend, whether you’re bending small or large parts. However, do some thinking before investing in automating your press brakes.
And if you need to get a top-of-the-line press brake before anything else, Fab-Line Machinery is here to help. As the premier importer of Baykal Machinery in the United States, we offer different types of press brakes. Contact us today to get your desired machine.