The importance of having the right equipment to achieve great results is often mentioned.
In this case, it is not just the quality of what you have that is important, but how you use and look after it is also essential.
In fact, improper use and poor maintenance are factors that will demolish even the best equipment over time.
That is why, when it comes to press brake bending, you have to remember that a machine is to the operator what a winning horse is to the jockey.
Looking after your press brake is a duty that, however, makes it a pleasure to work with!
But what are the best practices for looking after your machine properly?
1) Know your machine technically
Managing your press brake properly and taking care of it is undoubtedly the first step in making it last a long time.
2) Lubricate the machine correctly and consistently
The press brake is an orchestra of moving mechanical parts conducted by electrical and electronic systems.
It is extremely important to follow the manufacturer's specifications carefully regarding lubrication frequency and the location of the lubrication points.
Proper lubrication also means using high-quality greases and oils, chosen exclusively on the basis of the manufacturer's specifications.
The points that require lubrication include: the beam sliding points, the rear carriage and any bending supports.
If there is a centralised lubrication system, check it methodically.
3) Clean the machine
A clean press brake is not just beautiful to look at, but is also efficient!
Usually, you can only see oil leaks if the machine is perfectly clean, even small ones such as seepage from the cylinders, or abnormal drips in the backgauge area or on the floor inside the machine.
Proper cleaning means following the manufacturer’s specifications and not using aggressive detergents or other unsuitable products.
In addition to this, take great care to avoid cleaning the optical scales improperly!
If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
4) Generally check correct operation and settings
A press brake is composed of many moving parts, including some large ones.
These large masses are actuated repeatedly for millions of cycles in a year, with extremely tight tolerances.
Just think of a beam that weighs thousands of kilograms: during each cycle it is “dropped” and then braked to slow it down in just a few tenths of a millimetre.
It is taken to bottom dead centre (BDC) with an accuracy in the order of hundredths of a millimetre, and is then raised for the next bend.
Inertia, vibration and continuous stress can wear out some susceptible components over time.
Operators who work diligently must also be diligent in relation to their machines, and immediately report any kind of anomaly, even the smallest.
Only they can recognise the signs of potentially much larger problems that will harm the machine and production.
For example, small gaps in the backgauge or poor positioning accuracy.
Obviously, the first step is to choose a manufacturer that is able to make high-quality press brakes in order to eliminate almost all of these kinds of problem.
5) Keep the tools and bed clean
Keep the mating surfaces between the dies, punches and machine clean.
In fact, when bending materials such as carbon steel, or when stainless steel has small slag balls in the corners of the holes and edges caused by an imperfect laser cut, these residues often end up on the press bed.
If they are not removed, they can score the supporting bases, which may compromise optimal bending over the years.