November 2014: Press Brakes VS. Panel Benders
In 2014, two primary sheet metal and plate bending machines are the press brake and the panel bender. There are other metal bending machines, including folding machines, wing benders, and others, but these two represent some overlapping capabilities that make them appropriate subjects for a comparison. Given a particular class of work, it may be that you could use either one.
With high-strength steels [we’re talking about steels with yield strengths on the order of 100,000 psi yield, such as the advanced high-strength automotive steels ] we've got to deal with machine deflection, and then we also have to deal with the concentrated load on the machine. With a press brake, your ram is kind of a linear beam. You're concentrating a load basically on a line. Normally, a typical machine can handle somewhere around a hundred tons per foot. If you have a 10 foot machine, you could put a thousand tons on 10 feet. Everything would be fine. What happens if it takes 1500 tons to bend 10 feet? Trouble.
As long as laser welding has been used in industry, there’s still a tendency to think of it as something for special circumstances – difficult materials, awkward locations that can’t easily be reached with MIG or other common processes, very small parts, and high-volume applications, such as specialized automotive applications.