Hydraulic Press Brakes Buyer’s Guide

When sourcing a new press brake the buyer’s goal should be to match the equipment to their expected requirements and use, plus get the best value for their investment. This means obtaining an excellent quality product with proper features at an affordable cost. Also, just looking at initial cost can sometime be deceiving as press brake manufacturers in USA life cycle costs should be accounted for that includes maintenance costs and efficiency of labor in using the press brake.

Hydraulic press brakes began replacing mechanical ones in the ’70s due to costs and safety issues. Mechanical components were replaced with a hydraulic system which eliminated these costly machined parts. Of course, incorporating a superior hydraulic system with quality components is paramount to supplying reliable and accurate equipment for the end user. The buyer should also ask if valves, rings, seals and other key hydraulic components are readily available and if the company they are buying from has a good after sales service staff. Proprietary parts are often difficult to find or can take a while to obtain.

Press brakes, like all machines, have features that differ across the various manufacturers. The back gauge is a feature that is generally not included with this machine as standard equipment even though it is extremely useful. This gauge is typically sold as an option. This is true also for tooling as well. There are specialty tooling companies that sell after market press brake tooling for all types of press brake jobs. Yet, a savvy buyer will be able to negotiate a front operated power back gauge and tooling package to be included with their press brake purchase. If the supplier is on the cutting edge he will have either American or European style tooling to offer to the customer.

Since the buyer usually has to rely on the salesman’s recommendations, it is very important to buy from a dealer who not only is knowledgeable about metal fabricating machinery, but also has some metallurgical background and common sense. When the customer says they want a 150 ton press brake for instance, the salesman needs to query them further and pin point the type of material they are going to be working with. Bending stainless steel requires 50% more power than bending 60,000 tensile plate for instance. The salesman should know that the term “mild steel” hasn’t existed in over 20 years. This material was replaced with A36 and the tensile can range from 57,000 psi up to 80,000 psi. There is a huge gap, so instead of figuring 15.4 tons per foot when bending ΒΌ” A36 material you need to kick it up to at least 19 tons per foot. Even though the end user may not have given enough information to the sales person, it is still up to the sales person to help match up the right equipment for the job by asking the right additional questions.

The buyer also needs to be certain that whichever press brake they purchases that it is flush floor mounted. Many of the 150 and 176 ton machines on the market require a slot in the floor to accommodate the apron that hangs from the front end of the press brake. Sometimes the photo in a catalogue does not pick up this issue. Ask your sales person so that you don’t become surprised and pay a lot more money for this type of foundation.

Purchasing press brakes is an important task; there are some valuable tips that can go a long way in saving the buyer money and labor. Be sure to do your research and search for high quality equipment, as witnessed by this salesman.

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