There are welding and fabricating companies all across the country boasting about their capabilities. Some of these companies truly are experts in their field, while others simply employ good marketing companies to promote their services. When it comes down to it, an exceptional metal fabrication company can be accurately identified by the standard of work that they produce day-in and day-out. As the old saying goes, “Actions really do speak louder than words,” and in the world of metal fabrication, a major component of a successful project is the operators and fabricators who work tirelessly to complete the job.
This is especially true for press brake operators. The Press Brake is a machine tool that is used for bending sheet metal into a variety of forms and shapes. There are many operators who pick up their skills through trial and error while on the job. Others receive formal training and are certified in their trade. But, no matter how an operator learns the trade, precision bending requires that the operator have a keen understanding to four primary areas: the role of the operator, the drawings, the Press Brake machine, and the tooling.
- The Role of the Operator- An exceptional operator should always be honing his craft through additional trainings and the implementation of new technologies in the industry. These operators should also have a well-rounded understanding of the entire fabrication process, from start to finish. This includes machine set-up, necessary fabrication times to meet job specifications, and machine capabilities.
- The Press Brake machine- There are several different types of press brake machines on the market today, and each one has its own capabilities and limitations to consider, and maintenance requirements. These press brake types include: mechanical, hydraulic, retrofitted CNC, and full CNC brakes. Each machine type has its own capabilities, limitations, and setup times. Press Brake operators must fully understand the differences of each machine, the forming times for each machine, and concentrated load limits associated with each tool. In many cases, operators are only fully trained on one machine type and not the others. Operators who exceed load limitations could cause significant damage to the machine and deform the products being made. Press Brake operators must really know the math of the machine!
- Tooling- It is nearly impossible to make quality parts with bad tooling. This phrase is worth repeating. IT IS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE QUALITY PARTS WITH BAD TOOLING. Different types of bending (i.e. air bending, bottom bending, coining) require different types of tooling. Expert press brake operators need to have a complete understanding of the different tooling tolerances for every punch and die used.
- Drawings- All of the important information necessary to make a part needs to be included in the drawings. This includes the bend angles, dimensions of the part, the inside radius of the bend, and the appropriate tolerances of each piece. All of the specifications laid out in the drawings must take into consideration the capabilities of the press brake and tooling being used for the project.
If you’re looking to hire a fabricator for your next commercial or industrial project, Swanton Welding can help. Ask us about the qualifications and experience of our fabricators and operators, and see for yourselves exactly what precision metal fabrication should look like.