If you are bending or shaping metal, the press brake tooling you select plays an important tool. Tooling includes dies and punches that are used with a press brake to form, bend or flatten sheet metal. They are what touches the metal by utilizing a tool set of opposing features, force the material to conform to the bend desired.

 How Press Brakes Work


Press Brakes are actually bending machines. They bend sheet metal in specific areas by holding the workpiece between a matching punch and die. While most press brakes are computer programmed, they are also available as manually operated.


Press brake tool sets have 2 main parts; the top tool mounted in the ram is called the ‘punch’. The bottom tool is mounted on the bed or die rail and is call the ‘die’. While the basic operation of all brakes is the same, the mechanism used to exert the force on the ram that shapes the part is different.


Why the Right Press Brake Tooling is Important


The type of tooling used for fabrication will determine how efficient your operation will be. Tooling ENABLES and LIMITS production. If you make something unique, you will most likely need special tooling. Otherwise, most tool sets are available in a standard variety of configurations that can be assembled to any length your bending application needs. 


Tooling and the brake’s interaction with tooling is expanding equipment capabilities and make single part bending much more affordable. 


American vs. European Tooling


When selecting and understanding press brake tooling it is important to understand how the force is going to move from the upper beam and holder through the tool and into the work piece. Both European and American style tooling have different methods for directing this flow. American tooling directs the flow in a simple straight line through the tool. This allows the tool to be reversed easily and logically. However, it also requires that tool makers accurately grind the surfaces to the left and right of the holder in regard to the tip position. European tooling has an offset holder. This holder does more to stabilize the tool than to transfer power. Power is transferred to the right of the holder on a single surface in line with the punch tip. 


The European style offers more options because of its widespread use in the industry. Tool makers will typically have twice the selection of European style tools compared to American styles. Because of their offset design European profiles tend to be a bit slimmer, offering more geometry options when bending. The only significant downside to European style tooling is that an expensive holder is required to fix it to the upper beam. With American style tools the upper beam only requires a flat surface with an adequate groove and simple bolt to hold it together.


Things to Consider When Buying Tooling


·        What you are making.

·        Type of metal you are using. Different thicknesses need different tools.

·        Length of the sheet metal.

·        The angle you are forming.


Top Tooling or punches

Press Brake punches come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, which one you choose for any given job, will depend on the job itself. There is a vast range available, although they can be generally classified into three unique types, Goose Neck Punch, Swan Neck Punch and Acute Angle Punch. There are sub-divisions of these three types, with different radius on the nose to suit different material thicknesses and some can even be made specifically for your needs.

·        The Standard Punch

o  The Standard Punch is a 1010 Goose Neck Punch which is the most popular for most everyday bending tasks. Standard punches are characteristically strong and stocky, making them ideal for thicker materials, higher loads and lengthy bending lines. They are a versatile, heavily relied upon and essential piece of kit.

·        The Acute Angle Punch

o  If you need sharper, more acute angles then you would need an Acute Punch. Acute can mean different things to different people based on their needs or different jobs, so generally any angle between approximately 25° to around 60° could be classed as acute.

·        The Narrow Punch

o  The Narrow punch is the master of tight spaces and is much narrower along its entire length. That gives the Narrow Punch the ability to perform final bends on workpieces where space is very limited such as 90° bends on material that has already seen some bending.

·        The Swan Neck Punch

o  Swan neck top tools are particularly useful for ‘U’ bend shaped brackets. Due to their unique shape, they prevent the leg formed by the bend from colliding with the tool itself when performing the second bend.

·        The Joggle Punch

o  The Joggle Punch allows bends to be formed around corners. There is however an important difference in that the Joggle also has the thinner qualities of the Narrow Punch and Die along its shaft; that makes angular ‘S’ shaped bends and bending around existing corners much more feasible.

Bottom Tooling or Dies

Available in different sizes and shapes and should match the punch tooling and material thickness you are forming. Single Vee, Offset Tools, Flattening Dies and U-Bend and Z-Bend variants.

·        Single Vee Dies

o  Single Vee dies are the most used, as their name suggests they possess a single ‘V’ shaped groove of varying angles with the minimum distance from the middle of the vee to the back of the tool to allow the minimum joggle available without crushing the tool.

·        Two-Way Self-Centering Vee Dies

o  Two-way Self-Centering Vee Dies have two successive grooves (typically of differing angles and/or widths) which give the operator the convenient potential of working continually without any need for retooling if your workpiece has different bend requirements. Additionally, with two grooves they are much closer to the sides of the die making shorter flanges a possibility.

·        Multi-Vee Dies

o  Multi-Vee Dies come in a wide variety of shapes, containing 3, 4, 5 and larger; vees spread across their four sides. This gives impressive variety in terms of radii and material thickness you can work with.


·        Flattening & Hemming Dies

o  Flattening and Hemming Dies, also known as Safe Edge, Dutch Bend and Hemming Dies are a simple and straight forward solution for finishing (or flattening) acute angle bends. There are two types, the sprung loaded bottom tool or the newer U section bottom tool.

Choosing the perfect pair

There are many factors to consider; factors such as the parameters of your Press Brake, parameters of your dies, maximum bending forces, material types, strokes…The list is long and you need to know your machine, your materials and your dies very well.

Whether you are looking to buy new or used tooling, give us a call and we will help in any way we can. Manufacturing Solutions offers a wide range of NEW and USED Press Brakes to fit any of your bending needs. Take a look at our currently inventory. If you do not see what you need, contact us at (714) 545-0940 and we’ll find it for you.