Metal cutting shears have been around for over 100 years in the sheet metal and metal fabrication industries. During that time there were few innovations to the process that enhanced the productivity accuracy and usability of the shear. Features such as Squaring arms allowed for a properly squared cut when the material was properly aligned with the gage arm. Backgages allowed quick measuring of the sheared part. And other features such as ball transfers in table allowed for easier material manipulation specifically for larger material thicknesses.

However one of the latest innovations came shortly after the development of the CNC Control itself on the metal cutting shear, the CNC front gage. Front gauging on a shear provides a multitude of advantages in shear operation and most operators or shop owners don't understand how these unique advantages affect their bottom line on a process as seemingly simple as shearing. 

Large Sheet Support

Front gauging offers support for larger worksheets of material allowing the operator to place the whole sheet on the gauge arms as opposed to resting it on the tips of a forklifts forks, worktable or various other support methods. This method is safer and reduces operator fatigue in loading material. due to the fact that front gauging has 2- 3 large arms for material support they also allow the operator to approach the shearing point when performing manual operations such as shadow light shearing, safely and easily.


The likely primary reason front gauging is purchased is due to it's extreme accuracy compared to Backgages standard on shears today. Before we can understand the advantages of front gauging we must understand how a typical backgage works. Backgages utilize a long bar and are typically driven by a (less than accurate) lead screw. With common positioning accuracies of +/-0.005" and such a large surface to gauge on, any material defects such as corner bends or burrs can easily affect the sheared part accuracy. Often material being pushed into the shear can be tilted slightly when bumped into the backgage or even bounce off the backagage resulting in less than accurate results. 

Front gaging eliminates many of these issues by first using a precision screw drive system typically positioning material within +/- 0.001". Secondly by use of small flip up stops as gauge points, they are less likely to be misaligned due to material defects, burrs or other factors. By providing this level of accuracy frant gauged parts can often be taken right into finishing operations such as forming and robotic welding. 

Material Feeding

Another great factor when choosing front gauging is that they come standard with the ability to move the sheet forward. This not only greatly reduces operator fatigue but it also greatly increases part cycle time. Further with the addition of ball transfers in the squaring arm material is easily rolled into position or rotated by the operator without the possibility of sticking to the table. 

Shearing Safety

Always of concern is operator safety when shearing metals. One of the best ways to improve operator safety is to allow them to efficiently operate the machine without having to be in the "cutting zone," Adding CNC front gauging allows the operators to stand back behind the material while the gauge fingers perform the work of advancing the material forward. Removing the operator from the work zone and automating material feeding reduces possible injury and fatigue.

CNC Front Gauging adds a great deal of performance on any shearing machine including Accuracy & Speed while reducing Operator Fatigue & improving Safety. All combined these advantages increase efficiency and reducing the bottom line. Contact Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales, Inc. for more information on CNC Front Gauging and a variety of shearing machines in our inventory equipped with it or that it can be easily retrofitted to. 

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