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Mechanical, hydraulic, and now electric press brakes. Which is best for me?

Mechanical, hydraulic, and now electric press brakes. Which is best for me?


What type of press brake do I need?  Most people are price conscious but want to make sure that they have enough capacity, proper controls and the correct safety gear to do the job.  There are many questions you need to ask yourself when shopping for the perfect press brake. 

There are many different brands to consider with lots of options such as Cincinnati Inc., JMTUS Industrial, RagosBaileighKomatsuNiagara and Chicago just to name a few. Besides CNC Controls, back gauges, and safety curtains or lasers you must decide on which one of the major styles would be best.

The most popular style is a Hydraulic Press Brake.  This style is the safest, most controllable and a bit more expensive than a mechanical brake.  They generally allow for multiple speed changes, for example you can set a Fast Approach Speed, Slow Forming Speed and a Quick Retraction Speed to really increase production time between bends.  Hydraulic also allows you more precision bends allowing for greater control when inching down and setting up for your job.  Another major benefit of the hydraulic brake is that you can reverse your stroke at any time.

The other biggest option is a Mechanical Press Brake.  These have been around for decades and many are still in use.  They are great for more simple jobs with less setup or special punching applications.  A mechanical press brake actuates a few differentways, with either an air clutch system allowing for an electric foot pedal or a mechanical clutch and foot treadle.  The main difference between a hydraulic press brake and a mechanical press brake is that the mechanical brake cannot retract the ram until the flywheel has completed a full rotation.  This makes it harder to do certain jobs and you will not have the same control as a hydraulic machine allowing for ram retraction at any time.

New to the market is the Electrical Press Brake.  These machines are great for intricate jobs with multiple setups.  They use much less power to run and will give you the exact same bend every time by way of the servos that power the ram.  These are made for super high repeatability and are silent between strokes, great for laboratory or small shop environments.

Depending on the job you have you can save tens of thousands on bells and whistles that you don’t need.

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