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bending sheet metal

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  • bending sheet metal

    I want to bend more sheet metal. Currently using folding bars, and its ok, but a pita for a bigger work in steel. always thought i needed to save my pennies for a finger break

    yesterday i walked through a medium sized fabricator (one man shop being small, Boeing being large), lots of lasers, cnc punches, robot welders, etc, neat stuff. Not a finger break in site. It looked like all bending was done in large vertical press break machines with V shaped dies.

    how do you guys think they compare (finger/press break), esp for a home shop?

    [This message has been edited by Mcgyver (edited 01-28-2006).]

  • #2
    I think only a taxpayer backed entity can afford them! My high school had a beauty and it's the last one I've ever seen.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

    It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


    • #3
      I have several of these profiles in varying lengths for my 20 ton H press and this site has been a valuable resource ;

      I have no mill yet but they're cheap to machine from a local shop.
      I weld tubular guides on the ends so they slide into a holder and they're only machined over a portion of the die, the rest being relieved so small boxes, etc. can be made.
      Not anywhere near as fast or as versatile as a box brake but no where near the $ either.


      • #4
        The metal shop where I took my TIG welding class had a huge CNC bending system. It had lots of large dies/etc. We never used it, but I did watch someone take a large piece of 1/4" plate and make many small consecutive creases in it causing the 1/4" plate to curl at just the right radius that he wanted.



        • #5
          A press brake beats heck out of the little box and pan finger benders.

          You always know where the bend will be, for one thing, where in teh B&P the metal thickness affects it.

          The B&P is good for boxes and pans, because you can make fingers of any size, almost, and move them around, But if you have some tooling for the brake, that can do it too.

          There is a reason a "real" sheet metal fabricator uses a press brake. It is faster, bends more thickness, easier to bend thin "u" shaped pieces. Much easier to get a specific size every time in an offset with a "Z" die, or a "wipe down" die for a channel.

          But they cost lots more, and OSHA hates them.

          Keep eye on ball.
          Hashim Khan


          • #6
            I got a 12" box break, Tennsmith, weighs about 140 lbs. I have etched angles on the side of the handle, but.. it depends on metal thickness too. It has removeable fingers for turning small boxes. (edges)

            It is mounted on a 2x2 to drop into a socket. I hate lifting it up over my head to move it thou. It is currently on the rollaround slip-roll-bead-roller
            Excuse me, I farted.


            • #7
              I worked in a large sheetmetal shop as a sheetmetal fabricator. We had press brakes to 400 ton. Our finger box brake got used quite often. They work great up to their limits, but they are always abused. People figure if they can do 14 ga they will do 1/8" and thats not the case, so the used ones are usually sprung in places...Bob

              Bob Wright
              Salem, Oh Birthplace of The Silver & Deming Drill
              Bob Wright
              Salem, Oh Birthplace of The Silver & Deming Drill


              • #8
                <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by David E Cofer:
                I got a 12" box break, Tennsmith, weighs about 140 lbs. I have etched angles on the side of the handle, but.. it depends on metal thickness too. </font>
                The box ID or OD size depends on metal thickness, but the bend should occur right where you think, regardless of thickness, with a press brake. The male die comes down on the line..... unless something shifts.....

                Keep eye on ball.
                Hashim Khan


                • #9
                  Any really complete sheet metal shop will have both.
                  MY shop is obviously not complete yet, but I got a few years left before I die.

                  But most people start with finger, or box and pan brake, for the simple reason that they are cheaper and easier to find. Lots of 16 ga finger brakes out there, imports as low as $500 or so, new. Chicago, or D&K brakes, like my 12 ga 4 footer, a little more- mine weighs 2000lbs, and cost 3 grand used, over 6 new.

                  There are some nifty little press brakes available, but they start at 5 grand new.
                  CNC press brakes start at more like 10 grand, and can easily run up to 50 grand.

                  I have a buddy who has a 12 foot press brake in his shop, and even though the machine, used, wasnt all that expensive- His is relatively low tonnage, and only will do 12 ga- he had a big investment in moving it, pouring a foundation for it, and wiring it, plus dies arent free either.

                  Big used industrial ones are out there, price varies depending on location- no deals where I live.

                  You can do some things better with a press brake, but not everything, so its nice to have both, and maybe someday I will.


                  • #10
                    A brake press is the best and most versatile but is very expensive and takes up a pot of room. I have found that the Roper Whitney Magna Bent is very good for what I do and better than a standard finger brake. It is rated for 16 gage and does well. Smallest back bend is 3/4".

                    For really small jewelry work I use this one that I made.



                    • #11
                      I used to stand in front of them for 19 years, in three different factories. Least number in operation was 5. Most in use, between 14 to 18. Never used a box & pan brake in a production environment. TOO SLOW. Like J Tiers said, Offset dies, wiping dies, "rubber" dies, forming dies, rotary dies. Most unrewarding job I ever had. But when you make hundreds, to thousands of parts in a run, nothing comes close.


                      • #12
                        Look on Ebay for a small press brake. I bought a manually operated (with a handle, not power driven) Di-Acro 24" press brake for under $200.00 a couple of years ago. It was almost new (serious tool gloat). They usually go in the $600 range, however. Parts are no longer available from Di-Acro, but a manual one is less likely to have been abused, or the abuse or lack thereof is more readily apparent. Use an Ebay search on "press brake" and see what comes up. Some of the power stuff (very cheap) should be inspected under power for any abuse. If not, lots of good old American iron can be had for very small price. However, getting it home WILL COST more than the purchase price! A.T.