(featured in Fabricating & Metalworking – 2/16)
Press brake tools are the only parts of the machine that ever touch the finished parts being formed. The precision CNC press brake cannot produce good products with poor tooling, and bad tooling makes all the good hardware in the process – including the machine operator – useless.
The importance of tooling to the press brake forming process can never be overstated. Tooling is to the press brake what tires are to a race car. Even with the most powerful engine, the strongest powertrain, the best balanced chassis, and the flattest suspension, that race car will not win without excellent tires to match. The tires are the only part of the car that ever touch the race track. They handle all of the acceleration, braking power and steering of the car. Without them, the rest of the vehicle’s hardware (driver included) become useless and the car becomes unmanageable. Like the tires on the race car, press brake tools are the only parts of the machine that ever touch the finished products being formed. The best precision CNC press brake cannot produce good products with poor tooling and bad tooling makes all the good hardware in the process (including the machine operator) useless.
Accepting that good press brake tooling is a basic necessity to manufacture good products, it makes sense to maintain the tooling that keeps the whole process running productively. To keep a car operating at peak performance tires must be rotated, balanced, and replaced when excessively worn. Likewise, there are basic steps any manufacturer can take to extend the productive life of press brake tooling. In addition, all personnel responsible for handling the tools should be aware of some basic best practices as well as warning signs which indicate when tooling is excessively worn and should be replaced.
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