Just saying 4.0 is not enough to have “the” press
Some manufacturers try to anticipate the changes, exploiting the fact that press brakes already have certain characteristics that take them in the direction of Industry 4.0 parameters, but they clash with the discordant opinions of others who say that “Speaking of Industry 4.0 in this sector is undoubtedly more difficult if we compare it with laser cutting, punching and panelling.”
So let’s look at what characteristics make a 4.0 press:
- CNC directly connected to the company network with programming from the office;
- high level of safety equipment;
- remote support;
- direct connection with the company ERP.
Press brake and tools
When it comes to bending sheet metal to give it a custom finished shape for the specific application, the accuracy of the finished bend is essential: if the bends are not made accurately, then the final product will simply not be correct to the drawing.
This is a particularly relevant scenario for users that bend complex parts, in which even small inconsistencies during the bending process can ruin a whole batch of parts.
When it comes to tools, it's very important to choose the correct punch and die combination, and to assess the bending radii and capacity of the tools. However, numerical control can check the choices made and warn if they are inappropriate, as it's already configured with the specifications of the main tool manufacturers.
The force of sheet metal
An excellent bending result without wasting material, however, does not depend on the press alone.
Industry 4.0 standards or not, it's necessary to consider that steel is a living material, which bends in a specific direction but requires special attention to its spring back and, consequently, to the force used during bending.
For those using the press, spring back is a variable that occurs when the material attempts to return angularly to its original shape after bending. However, spring back can increase very significantly as the inside bend radius increases in relation to the material thickness.
New high-strength steels, for example, exhibit greater spring back than basic mild steels, some stainless steels and many types of aluminium.
In addition to the ecological and energy-saving aspects, the most obvious benefit of using 4.0 press brakes is that they can be integrated into factory IT systems in order to manage the entire production process in a modern and increasingly automated way.
Electric press brakes eliminate the need for hydraulic oil and can reduce energy costs. Greater efficiency has helped to stimulate manufacturers’ interest in electrical and hybrid designs. For many of them, peace of mind comes from knowing that their press brakes will produce bends to precise specifications without the need to adjust for changes in oil temperature, which is more than enough reason to switch to an electric or hybrid system.
For others, the frustrations they have endured due to imprecise bends, such as unnecessary costs and stress, are a reason for pushing toward Industry 4.0. In simpler terms, hybrid and electric bending presses can help manufacturers dramatically simplify downstream operations, saving time and money while increasing customer satisfaction.
Accuracy and energy savings are therefore driving manufacturers to invest in hybrid press brakes, which require much less maintenance because they use significantly fewer valves and less oil, or electrical press brakes, which are completely oil-free.