How Does a Modern Press Brake Work?

Written by Brad Boatright from MDNA Member Firm, Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales, Inc., Published on May 15th, 2019 

If your asking yourself “What is a press brake?” or “How does a Press Brake work?” then this is a great place to start. In this article, we describe what a press brake is and the very basics to press brake operation while providing some great links to other articles going further in depth into press brakes and their operation.

A press brake is a machine used to precisely form pre-cut metal shapes into components sheets as panels, boxes, and brackets. The press brake utilizes a fixed bed Piranha 280-10 Hydraulic Press Brake to hold the bending dies and a moveable ram to which the forming “Punch” is affixed. The operator places the pre-cut formed metals under the Ram “Punch” and then moves the ram down into the material and then the lower die. This action forces the metal to bend into an angle. By precisely controlling the depth of the punch’s motion the bend angle can also be precisely controlled. Press brakes can be manual machines but are more and more likely to have a CNC Controller on them allowing for complex bending operations with ease.

Note: You can read more about press brakes in this great guide entitled: Introduction to Press Brakes

The material being bent upwards is called the “Flange” and it is measured and controlled for accuracy through a device on the press brake mounted in the rear of the machine called the “backgauge”. The backgage is controlled by the CNC controller on the press brake and through a program input by the operator controls the position of itself and a series of material stops, called “fingers” on the gage itself. Once the gage is properly positioned the operator places the material to be formed over the bending die, pushes it forward and rests it securely against the gage fingers of the backgage for forming in order to obtain the proper flange dimension.

Press brakes can be driven by a variety of methods including Mechanical Flywheels, Hydraulic Pistons, and Electric/Belt Positioning. Here is a past article titled What’s Driving Press Brakes we detailed these different press brake driving mechanisms and while each method has a unique advantage, they also each carry a disadvantage. In general, the hydraulic drive systems are the most popular as they have a great combination of performance vs. price.

About the Author: Brad Boatright (From MDNA Member Firm, Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales, Inc.)  Brad’s experience in machinery sales provides our customers with a wealth of know-how. Having represented such manufacturers such as A&V Waterjet, Hydromat, Daewoo, OKK, Mitsubishi Dianichi, and Hurco. Brad can help you pick the right machine for your needs and budget. 813-444-4555 x111
For more information on equipment or to buy, sell or trade them you can also contact any of MDNA’s machinery dealers, located around the world, by using the Find Members>Search tool on Or you can Find MDNA Members by region here.