“What the …? This can’t be done!”

How many times have you heard that expression? Or seen someone scratching his head in bewilderment when trying to decide which flange to form first or last, not unlike the operator pictured in the lead photograph?

Carefully planning the [glossary]forming order[/glossary] can make even the most daunting project less complicated and problematic. Sure, we’ve all been there; but before we encounter this problem again, let’s look for some viable solutions. Where do we start? With the blueprint, of course.

First things first, review the [glossary]blueprint[/glossary], either customer prints or [glossary]flat pattern[/glossary] prints from a [glossary]CAD[/glossary] system (or both), and compare them to the actual workpiece. Once you are sure they match, the fun begins. Start by marking the actual part with [glossary]bend lines[/glossary] and dimensions as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1

For example, show upward-bent flanges as solid lines and downward bends as dotted lines.

The marked part will be used for forming reference at the press brake. Second, do a line drawing to scale on a separate piece of paper, excluding the dimensions (see figure 2).

Now, use your [glossary]tooling profile[/glossary] stencils or the actual tools themselves to find the strongest punch profile, available that will achieve the desired results. The strongest punch profile, is the punch that will handle the most tonnage. In other words, don’t use a [glossary]gooseneck[/glossary] punch if it isn’t necessary. Over time, selecting punch profiles by this method will save tooling life, adding years to the tooling.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Once you have selected the punch profile by matching tool profiles with the line drawing, make a note of the direction of the punch when placed in the ram, e.g., gooseneck facing toward you or facing away and add that information to the [glossary]setup sheet[/glossary] for future reference.

Because we now know the ideal punch profile and which bend needs to be made last, it is relatively easy to decide the remaining forming order. Note whether the V-die needs to be toward the front or back, assuming double V or quick-change V-die.

At this point you must decide which [glossary]tool holders[/glossary] and die bolster are to be installed into the press brake (see figure 3). This is done using exactly the same process as the punch profile selection.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Seems pretty simple so far, but what about gauging? Do you need to work around special features? Will the backgauges enter the die and punch space? This is the time to refer to the set-up piece that you marked with direction and forming order.

Mentally work through the part, placing the stops in position for each step in the forming process and noting whether there is interference with the tools. If there is interference, you may want to vary the height or location of the [glossary]backgauge[/glossary]. You might even find that thinner material extensions are required.

On some occasions you might need to make the first of two 90° bends at 45°, the second at 90 degrees, and then re-hit the first to 90°. However, this is a rare, extreme situation.

The tools are in and the stops set; time to try the set-up piece, either an extra set-up part or the one that was marked with the solid and dotted lines, though it is best if you keep the marked piece for direction and forming order reference.

As always, “[glossary]dry run[/glossary]” the program, run the program without a part and make sure all the data is correct.

From there, form up a part, check it, adjust it, record the setup for future reference, and commence production.

After reviewing this material you should now be able to:

  1. Define a good forming order, best practices.
  2. Use tooling or tool samples to find the strongest tooling profile.
  3. Explain why the strongest tooling profile is necessary.
  4. Keep sufficient notes for the setup sheets.
  5. Show why dry running a program is a good idea.


Top of the page: Forming Order

Next chapter:  Gauging and Fixturing


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