The old metalworker spat a bit of tobacco juice on the shop floor, perhaps a little too close to the shoes of the CNC press brake and machinery salesman who had come calling. “Not sure I need any of your newfangled contraptions,” he said with a bit of contempt in his voice. Hooking his thumb towards a massive mechanical brake, he noted, “Old Betsy here has served me long and well.”
The salesman wondered if the old guy was putting him on but decided to continue with his pitch. “Well, there’s nothing like a classic machine,” he said, “but when it comes time to replace it, you’d probably want to look at getting a CNC hydraulic press brake.”
The fabricator snorted. “My grandson says he would like to get a hydraulic machine when he takes over the business in a few years,” he said, indicating a younger man who had wandered over. “I can appreciate that, but I’m teaching him to be a real fabricator, one who knows how to bend metal without depending on an expensive computer control to do it for him.”
The salesman nodded. “I completely agree. Every shop needs an expert fabricator running the show who understands everything about metal and how to work it. However, you don’t need every shop worker to have that knowledge right off the bat, nor would you necessarily want to pay more to hire just those who have the experience. A computer numerical control, or CNC, is only as good as the fabricator who programs it, someone who has mastered bend sequences, bend deductions for the material being used, and other values.
“As your grandson grows the business, he can hire press brake operators at a lower hourly wage to operate a CNC press brake that he, himself, has programmed. Then he can focus on other work while the brake performs the operations as perfectly as if he had done it himself.” The salesman continued, “The cost of adding a CNC to a hydraulic press brake isn’t that much, and I can show you how it’ll pay for itself over a matter of months.”
Before the old man could reply, the grandson addressed the salesman. “I’d really like to hear what you have to say. Let’s go sit down in the office and you can tell us more about CNC brakes.”
The Advantages of a CNC Press Brake
While there are many benefits a CNC brake offers over manual press brakes and those with a simple PLC control, their key advantages can be boiled down to a few basic points:
- Simplicity. Only a few hours training is needed by an operator to learn to run a brake with a CNC as opposed to the days it would take someone on a press brake without such a control. A graphical CNC permits the operator to visually inspect the job before it’s run, and many are advanced enough to do real-time rendering of the steps in 3D animation. Potential impacts and other problems can be pointed out before they occur, and touchscreen models allow the operator to make changes on-screen directly at the working point. A CNC press brake can consider all factors of the operation, taking the guesswork out of metal bending for even inexperienced operators.
- Productivity. While it does cost a little more to add a CNC to a hydraulic press brake, the overall price tag is only increased by about 10-15%. The exponential increase in productivity that comes from such an upgrade will quickly help the press brake owner to make up the difference, however, and will turn into pure profit thereafter. CNC press brakes can be set up faster and work faster than regular brakes, and they are far more accurate, leading to much less waste of materials and time. The productivity a CNC system brings to a press brake also gives it a higher asset value, making it more valuable as collateral for a loan or as a future trade-in or sale.
- Flexibility. CNC press brakes can be programmed for major production runs or can be used for quick jobs or experimenting with prototypes. CNC machines can bend angles or step-bend curves in sheet metal, hem flanges, be used with hole punching tooling and perform a variety of other types of fabrication. Since almost all controls can save multiple programs, a brake can be switched out quickly from one job to do a rush project, then back again without difficulty. Many CNC controls allow offline programming, so a new program can be developed on a computer while the brake is busy running another job, then uploaded to the machine and be immediately ready for a test run.
For the metal fabrication shop seeking greater efficiency, upgrading to a CNC press brake is the only practical choice when the time comes to buy a new machine.
Consult a CNC Expert Today
Don’t wait for your current press brake to go on the fritz, call Revolution Machine Tools today and schedule a visit with one of their expert CNC press brake consultants. The crew at RMT cut their teeth with CNC press brakes before expanding to the wide variety of lines they offer today. With over five dozen models of CNC press brakes available, with machines running the gamut from three axis CNC to over 14 axes of control, Revolution Machine Tools has the knowhow to fit you with the perfect machine for your current needs and future expansion.
RMT also stands behind every CNC press brake and other machine they sell with a qualified inhouse service staff and dedicated parts and tooling specialists on hand for every customer’s need. Sit down with a member of their staff and see for yourself why metalworkers around the country talk about the Revolution Machine Tools’ difference.