Apr 22, 2021
Press Brake 2D Software Maximizes Bending Rates
Press brake 2D&3D Bending software are most popular in the current sheet metal forming market, most of new press brake owners not only buy the software for their new bending machines, but also plan to use the programming software as much as they can to increase their sheet metal bending efficiency.
All metal sheet working shop owner should be ensure their press brakes are being used to bending correct parts. That’s why they are getting paid—not to create the program, not to test the program, not to set up the press brake, and not to test the bending recipe until the part is bent to customer specifications.
So Press Brake Bending software was the key to convincing metal fabricators that they could move parts programming off the floor and actually improve press brake uptime. When the software reached the point at which the simple programs—say those with fewer than six bends—could be programmed automatically.if an operator is in front of a press brake, it only can go so fast and still keep the operator safe. If a shop is to minimize non-value-added activity associated with bending and ensure the press brakes are making parts as efficiently as possible, management needs to be aware how bending software can make that happen.
How hard it is to find people with the aptitude to work a press brake, much less someone that is actually experienced in doing it. The operators that can see how a 3D object can be formed, know what combination of punches and dies can make it happen, and sequence the tooling.. If working without the benefit of bending software, which can recommend the proper tooling and create the bend sequence automatically for typical parts, that press brake expert is still going to take 15 to 30 minutes to set up that press brake.
Imagine how long it takes the person new to the craft—probably 30 to 60 minutes. The press brake operator is going to be staring at it trying to figure out the right combination of punches and dies to use and what bend sequence to come up with. While that is happening, the press brake isn’t going up and down.
That’s why job shops need their best press brake operators programming parts offline. Especially after discussing how much more quickly those individuals can actually produce parts. But the goal is for all the press brake operators to be working as efficiently as possible, not just the very experienced ones.
The bending software is going to take care of those simple parts, such as a hat channel. The press brake veteran setting up these jobs can keep an eye out for things such as design for manufacturability and scheduling, but the software is going to do most of the work on these parts.
For the 10% to 20% of the work that is more complex, up to at least six bends, the veteran is actually going to figure out the best way to bend that part. The brightest metal forming mind isn’t going to spend his day on the monotonous work of programming simple parts; that individual can reflect back on experience to determine the appropriate way to bending the part, even taking into account the possibility that new tooling might be required. Press brake software is mindful of such contributions, so it is developed to allow for manual editing of suggested press brake jobs.
When that part program is complete, the programmer can save it to the database so that it can be shared with the bending department. The less experienced operators now have the best directions available. They call up the program, ensure they have the right tooling in the machine, and follow the prompts on the controller screen.
If a metal fabricating company doesn’t rely on bending software and offline programming, does it really know how long a sheet bending profile is going to take?
If has someone on the floor trying to figure out how to bend one metal profiles in press brakes, that person is going to need some time to figure it out. The same person likely will complete the same bending job a bit quicker, if he still retains some memory of how it was last accomplished. If a different operator has to bend that same job, the bending department supervisor is going to see a totally different production time. A typical day in a metal fabricating shop is stressful enough when production is going pretty smoothly because everyone is still dealing with hot jobs and ongoing continuous improvement efforts; work-in-process building up in front of a particular department because of production inefficiencies can make things that much more stressful.
Offline programming of the bending program takes a lot of those uncertainties out of the equation. A job is created and saved, so an operator of any skill level can call it up and get to work. A seasoned brake operator might finish the job more quickly, but even the less experienced person has a more clear-cut plan to proceed.
Bending Machine operator used to be the main decision-maker during press brake bending cycle setup, in terms of determining what press brake tooling was needed for the bending, finding it, and installing it in the proper sequence. That’s a very big responsibility and really stresses the importance of these knowledgeable operators without advanced software and automated equipment.
CNC Pressbrake Bending software helps to take the responsibility off the shoulders of press brake operators. Referencing a current tool inventory, which has all of the punches, dies, and specialty tools belonging to a company, the software determines the best tooling to complete metal bending parts. That tooling setup then is saved in case the job comes up in the future.
Some bending software packages also are able to recommend versatile tooling setups for processing various parts of different thicknesses and radii. The software ensures the proper tooling is present for the range of jobs and that the tooling has a common shut height, which means a variety of punching profiles and V dies, including hemming dies, can be used at the same time.
Software packages also might have access to a master tool inventory—tooling made by the same manufacturer of the press brake. In a virtual environment, the programmer using the bending software can grab a tool that may not be in the current inventory and see how it works for the job. If a new tool is needed, it can be ordered at that moment, and the cost can be built into the part cost.
If an metal parts fabricating engineer with little sheet metal fabricating experience also can cause problems. For instance, an engineer is always looking for the simplest way to do things, which is the right way to approach design in manufacturing. In doing so, however, the engineer might rely on recommended K factors most of the time. It’s a standard, right? Most of the time it works, but if the press brake operator has to use a different size V die to accommodate a short flange, that K factor requested by the engineer might not be the best recommendation.
Simulation software can analyze the 2D or 3D model of the part or assembly and determine the design intent of the manufacturing method.
From a bending perspective, the software checks to see if the part can be made as prescribed. Will there be a collision with the tooling? Is the flange too short? These manufacturing mistakes never make it down to the metal bending department.
Some same tool can be used to improve bending downstream production efficiencies. The press brake bending software might suggest a new bending sequence that avoids some downstream welding. Such a move can reduce part cost and improve the overall quality of the part if some manual welding is removed from the manufacturing mix. The combination of this type of computing power and the skilled eye of a press brake veteran in the programming seat makes bending software a powerful tool for continuous improvement efforts and cost reduction in part designs.
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