You have some choices to think about when it comes to press brake forming specifically the method of air bending or bottom bending. Depending on which technique you elect to use for press brake forming, should you select the wrong one, you could end up losing money or slowing the production process down unduly. Although on some machines, Press brake forming can be both an Art and a Science, it is typically much more straightforward and measured. Fortunately, we’ve got some tips to help you decide when air-bending is the best method for press brake forming. By taking the guesswork out of the equation you’ll save time and money, courtesy of your friends at Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales.  

An Overview of the Types of Press Brake Forming

Here’s some press brake bending basics 101. Press braking is an old technique, one that while effective, has been perfected over the years. Essentially the basic concept of press brake forming refers to a process in which a piece of sheet metal is formed along a straight axis. The channel-shaped punch and die set can be in the shape of a U or a V or other shape. 

Aside from air bending, there is another common bending technique used called bottom bending. Bottom bending uses the punch or tonnages of 5-6X that of air bending to press the material into the bottom of the die and compressing that material by 10% or more in a method called coining. This bottom bending method assures accurate blends but relies on a combination of specific tooling for every bend and press brake tonnage to achieve. 

One of the most important rules of press brake bending is understanding the concept and relationship of springback in metals to forming accurate parts. In press brake bending, it’s common to get some springback from the piece so it's up to the operator, or CNC Press Brake controller to know how much springback to expect from any given material, at any given thickness, at any given length of bend, for any given angle (sound complex yet?).

What is Air Bending?

Air bending is a comparatively gentler press brake forming technique in which the tooling only touches the material at three points, the punch tip and the die edges. As a brake press forming method, air bending is one of the gentlest and most popular techniques as CNC controllers have taken a great deal of guesswork out of forming (remember that springback thing?). 

This method has quickly risen to popularity and is now widely considered to be the most common brake press forming technique in metal shops today as it saves enormously on the tooling required to form multiple angles as well as the time required to change tooling. 

How Does Air Bending Work?

Air bending works essentially, air bending involves putting just enough pressure on the material to create the correct shape by pushing it far enough into the die to get the correct angle. A small amount of additional pressure is applied to the material to counteract any potential springback so that no further adjustments will be necessary. 

What is Air Bending Used for?

Air bending is used to get the right angle on a piece of sheet metal during the brake press forming process and to convert it into the desired shape. 

One thing to keep in mind is that while air bending certainly has its advantages, you should never use it on older, more antiquated brake presses because the margin of error will be much higher as the ram depths are more difficult to control and the material springback (and thus the final punch depth) must be calculated manually for each bend. 

When air bending is implemented in brake press forming, the operator can control the radius of the bend which allows for greater accuracy and control. This is one of the many advantages of air bending. You will see a dramatic increase in press brake workflow by using air bending. 

Get Your Gear at Southern Fabricating and Machine Sales and Increase Press Brake Workflow!

Whichever method you choose, when you need press brake parts, Southern Fabricating Machine Sales is the premier destination! We have the machinery you need at a price you’ll love, especially on our press brake parts. We know how to deliver high-quality at a low price, find out for yourself!

Increase press brake workflow with  Southern Fabricating Machine Sales.

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