Press brake tooling maintenance is an integral part of protecting your investment and extending the life of your tooling. It’s also easy to integrate press brake tooling maintenance into your operations, especially when you realize what’s at stake. The right press brake tooling is a significant investment and a key productivity booster, and one that should be protected to prevent premature replacement.
Worn out tooling can also compromise bending accuracy and incur additional wear and tear on your press brake. There are four common causes of premature damage and wear and tear to press brake tooling:
Repeated handling of press brake tooling without gloves
Metal flakes and residue left on press brake tools after bending
Improper tool storage
Improperly maintained press brake or improper tool loading
Fortunately, there are ways you can extend the life of your press brake tools and protect your investment. Let’s discuss press brake storage, proper press brake tooling handling, and best use press brake cleaning and lubricating practices.
Press Brake Storage
The right press brake storage cabinet protects tooling and maximizes productivity. While a wooden cabinet might seem like the cheapest choice, press brake tooling should not be stored around wood because it is a porous material. The moisture in the wood can cause corrosion (as can high humidity in a shop). Instead, press brake tools should be stored in cabinet drawers securely with metal or semi-solid material attachments. (To ensure a snug fit, many press brake tooling cabinets are made specifically for tooling from top manufacturers, like Wila and Trumpf Press Brake Tooling Cabinets, or types of tooling, like American Style Press Brake Tooling Cabinets.) Tools should never be stored loosely in a drawer to prevent them from banging into each other and damaging tools.
Ideally, press brake tooling should also be stored near the press brake to save time. If the tooling is used at more than one machine, a mobile press brake tooling cabinet is an easy way to move the tools between machines. For this purpose, there are cabinets made with wheels for the press brake operator to move or with a base that can be moved around with a forklift. The latter option is a good option for shops with uneven flooring that can rattle tooling or when the tooling is too heavy for easy movement.
Cleaning and Lubricating
In addition to inadequate storage, the oil from operator hands can damage press brake tooling. For this reason, operators should always wear gloves when handling press brake tooling. Operators should also make sure that press brake tooling is loaded securely during bending.
When a bending project is complete, the operator should wear gloves to remove tooling and wipe down tooling with a cleaner or isopropyl alcohol. This simple step removes oil left by hands and any resin, residue, or metal particles left on the tool during bending. Mild steel cut with an oxygen assist gas and aluminum, for example, are two materials known to leave flakes behind after bending. If left on tools, these flakes can wear down and damage tooling. If needed, an abrasive pad can also remove flakes or coatings left behind.
Once cleaned, press brake tools should be lightly rubbed down with a lubricant before being placed in the tool cabinet. Operators should also use gloves when removing the tools to avoid dropping the lubricated tooling.
Press brake tooling is a valuable commodity that can be maintained for optimal performance and max productivity. Operators can even extend the life of their tooling with a few simple steps and a solid storage system.
The right press brake tooling improves quality, efficiency, and productivity—and even prevents machine damage and accidents.
This isn’t an overstatement. If anything, it’s a statement that can’t be stated enough.
Far too many manufacturers “just get by” with tooling “that’ll work” without realizing the quality, efficiency, and productivity they are giving up. The best-case scenarios with incorrect tooling result in more set-up time, additional processes needed to get accurate bends, or lost productivity. In the worst-case scenarios, the wrong tooling can do short- or long-term damage to the machine, or even damage parts and cause accidents.
In our experience, these scenarios can be prevented with the right press brake tooling chosen specifically for the project at hand—and, in many cases, for future projects. Press brake tooling can be versatile enough to be used for multiple metal forming jobs or custom enough to make a large run of parts efficient and profitable.
How to Choose the Right Press Brake Tooling
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right press brake tooling. The factors at the top of the list include:
Type of material
Length of material
When choosing press brake tooling, it’s important to calculate a tonnage load that won’t overload the tools or press brake. Incorrect calculations can result in damage to the press brake, tools, parts, and even the operator. It’s also important to factor in the material thickness; more robust tooling is often needed for harder materials.
For the punch, the nose radius should be equivalent to, or slightly less than, the naturally floated air-forming radius value. There are many categories of punches, such as Standard Punch, Goose Neck Punch, Swan Neck Punch, Narrow Punch and Acute Angle Punch. As the name suggests, tools in the Standard Punch category are used for most common bends. If you have any questions on selecting the right press brake tooling, feel free to send us your drawing.
The right press brake die can be chosen by calculating the right die opening (ideally, 8 times the material thickness and never less than 6). (Find more on press brake tooling calculations in this article from The Fabricator.) The die is also an integral part of bending, and one that should be chosen carefully. The most cost-effective dies can be used for multiple projects, eliminating the time spent replacing and setting up press brake dies.
Dies that are manually clamped are more affordable, though there are other options. For those who need multiple dies for a project, adjustable press brake dies are viable options. While adjustable press brake dies tend to be more expensive, they offer precise bending and easy—even automated—adjustments. For example, with the VEE-LOCK, the operator only needs to loosen the stripper bolts. As the stripper bolts are loosened, the saddle blocks automatically lift, disengaging the locking channels at the bottom of the saddle from those in the base plate. The saddle blocks, which glide on cam rollers, are moved easily and safely into the right position. Once positioned, the stripper bolts are tightened to re-engage the locking mechanism. The die is ready for use. The automated Rolla-V is another press brake tooling that maximizes productivity by eliminating the need for manual adjustments and making the process more efficient.
Custom Press Brake Tooling
There are quite a few standard-made options for press brakes available. These options are available quickly and can be utilized for many common bends. However, there are instances, such as large part runs or projects with unique specifications, where custom press-brake tooling is the answer. Fortunately, we offer single- and multiple-hit forming tools in a wide variety of tooling styles and quality grades to maximize your forming efficiency. Our professional staff can analyze your part and recommend custom tooling or the reworking or resurfacing of existing dies.
FABTECH 2021 may be just a memory for some companies. For Fab Supply, FABTECH was the continuation of their goal of assisting customers.
With the uncertainties of the past year, many did not know what to expect at this year’s FABTECH 2021. For Fab Supply, FABTECH 2021 was an opportunity to do what they do best: help their customers.
“We found that the FABTECH 2021 audience was very purposeful,” said Mike Newman, Fab Supply Managing Director of Sales. “This year, I was able to spend more time with visitors and obtain good information that I can use to help them with their next project.”
It is hardly surprising that Fab Supply would embrace FABTECH as an opportunity to interact with their customers. That commitment to their customers is the same reason that an actual human always answers the phone at Fab Supply, why sales personnel often give out their personal cell phone numbers during a project, and why they will go to great lengths to deliver solutions on time to their customers (including with a midnight run to the airport). It’s also what differentiates them from other companies, both in their daily operations and at FABTECH.
“I walked around FABTECH and found so many companies were there solely to meet their customers and say, ‘Hey Jim, what are you doing today?’” says Ron Laws, Fab Supply Sales and Marketing Specialist. “That’s what sets up apart. We were there to help people and improve their processes.”
FABTECH gave the Fab Supply team the chance to start valuable conversations with visitors.
“There is value in having tools as part of the discussion when purchasing a press brake or metal forming system,” says Ron Laws. “The right tooling makes the machine run well. With poor tooling or a poor solution, the machine doesn’t perform as well.”
Fab Supply looks forward to continuing those conversations in the future and using their expertise to provide the right solutions for their customers. They also look forward to having the right tools at future shows—and hopefully not having their main display (a pneumatic Rolla-V) get damaged during shipping, an obstacle they faced before this year’s show.
“The right tools are definitely part of Fab Supply’s success, and we were very disappointed when we couldn’t show off our pneumatic Rolla-V product,” says Dan McCloskey, Fab Supply Managing Director of Operations. “However, our expertise and customer commitment are a key part of the value we bring to our customers, and that can never be damaged. When we look to the future, we look forward to providing our customers with the product and process knowledge that improves their efficiency and boosts productivity.”
Fab Supply announces new leadership as it continues its dedication to serving its customers’ growing needs.
Mike Newman is now the Managing Director of Sales after more than 16 years with the company. Dan McCloskey will take on the role of Managing Director of Operations after 3 years with the company.
These leadership changes come in light of the passing of John Wold, President and Founder of FAB Supply Incorporated in Glendale Heights, IL. John was a respected leader in the press brake tooling industry, a hard worker with a sense of humor, an excellent leader, and incessantly loyal to his customers, vendors, and employees.
“As we move forward, Fab Supply Inc will continue to provide the unsurpassed customer service that our customers have come to know and expect,” said Mike. “We look forward to a bright future while preserving the values that formed Fab Supply into a well-known and trusted name.”
The recent leadership changes allow Fab Supply to continue their tradition of strong customer service and quick response times, as well as providing customers with innovative and productivity-boosting products and solutions. Fab Supply will continue to focus on the core values that the organization was founded on.
The Wold family, along with the FAB Supply team, will continue to grow John’s vision for FAB Supply.
Fab Supply Inc. Founder John Wold passed away on July 6, 2021. The following is the last article he worked on for our company. As we move forward, we echo his sentiment and follow his vision, developing new product lines and growing into a true “one stop shop.”
Deadlines require a clear focus, especially ones with quick turnaround. At Fab Supply, tight deadlines are almost a specialty. Our large inventory and customer-oriented team make same-day shipping the norm.
What does this look like? Here’s a true story:
Fab Supply had a customer that had a job on a critical time frame. The company needed a Rolla-V to get the job done, but in half the time of the standard delivery.
Fab Supply contacted Rolla-V to speed up production, and the tool was shipped in three weeks instead of six. FAB Supply President John Wold waited at the O’Hare airport in the middle of the night for the Rolla-V to arrive via plane. At 1:30 a.m. he was on the road to western Ohio to deliver it. He arrived at 7:30 a.m., production started by 8 a.m., and the customer’s parts shipped out the same day.
Talk about dedicated teamwork!
“We always support the customer fully – start to finish,” President John Wold.
A Business About People
Fab Supply believes in a people-forward approach to doing business. This means an actual human will always answer the phone during business hours, and oftentimes sales people provide their personal cells outside of business hours to provide availability to customers in critical situations.
Communication is critical to providing the correct tooling to get the job done.
“We listen carefully to our customers and, by listening carefully, we can pick up on subtle nuances or offer advice that would take them in a different direction,” said John. “We’ve got over 85 years of industry experience amongst our staff in office; in addition to that, we’ve got designers both domestically and abroad that we work with on a regular basis. So, we’re very confident that the advice we’re giving our customers is the correct advice and it’s going to lead them to the most productive and cost-effective solutions.”
Sometimes this means providing advice on solutions a customer wasn’t aware of or re-routing the customer from a potentially dangerous or ineffective approach they had previously considered.
Fab Supply takes tremendous care to ensure that the billing and receivable collection is accurate. The relationship with the customer is extremely import. And continues long after the sale. Our values such as honesty and work ethic ensure it.
“We’re always very available and supportive, we’ll do facetime calls and sometimes involve the designers and engineers,” said John. “We always stand behind the quality of our products. If there ever is a manufacturing defect or someone is unhappy with the quality of their products, we will work with those customers to find a satisfactory solution. We also stand behind the quality of our advice.”
Here are just a few words from customers:
“You guys are great – thank you so much.” — Becca, Fox Machinery
“Thank you for the assist! … You guys rock!” — Erik Fredmonsky, P2P Manufacturing
“I greatly appreciate your help through this process. I can say hands down the RVM100-2.5’s are phenomenal. Thanks again, John, I will keep in touch as we may need some more of your tooling in the near future.” — Colton Redmon, Loflin Fabrication
It is with heartfelt sadness we announce that John Wold, Founder and President of Fab Supply, passed away suddenly on July 6, 2021.
For the past 28 years John offered exemplary service to his customers and was well known in the metal forming industry as an intelligent and helpful source of information. John will be remembered as a hard worker with a sense of humor, an excellent leader, and his legacy will live on. His unmatched dedication and loyalty to his customers, vendors, and employees will be held as the standard to the team at Fab Supply.
We are deeply saddened by John’s departure. As we continue moving forward, we will focus on seeing his vision through.
“We always support the customer fully – start to finish.” -John Wold
Please keep John and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Ok – maybe not all manufacturing problems, but some important ones! Learn how our one-of-a-kind sheet following system increases productivity, addresses safety issues, and reduces operator fatigue.
In the fabricating industry, many of us have seen this before.
Large parts that are very difficult to process. Inadequate equipment to get the job done. Worker fatigue that leads to burnout or injury, increased manufacturing costs and missed ship dates.
There should be a better way. Well, we were tired of it – and we did something about it.
Introducing, the Fab OTR. This is our state-of-the-art sheet following system for press brakes from 90 to 1,000 tons, which provides a solution for companies struggling to bend those large sheets and heavy parts.
The Fab OTR addresses safety issues, poor efficiency and operator fatigue associated with current methods for bending large sheets and heavy parts while increasing productivity. With several options available, each Fab OTR can be customized by adding additional arms, programmable height adjustment, wider work surfaces or friction reducing surfaces.
“There has been a need in the marketplace for a retrofittable system that can handle large sheet and/or heavy parts efficiently,” says Ron Laws, VP of Sales and Marketing. “Our systems meet these needs with a system that is specifically customized to a fabricators application. Whether it is our standard capacity rated at 500 lbs/arm, heavy duty system at 700lbs/arm or the maximum duty system at 1,200 lbs/arm, we have a solution available.”
Our new line offers features that have not been available in the past, including:
Programmable height adjustment from bend to bend
The ability to support a part bent to an included angle of 40 degrees
In business since 1993, Fab Supply reflects on how it all began while remaining focused on core values essential to its success.
There’s an ever popular anecdote about a bar napkin business plan, but Fab Supply’s beginnings were a bit more hook, line and sinker.
On a fishing trip in Canada with a good friend in the manufacturing industry, John Wold was airing frustrations about his current line of work when his friend, Dan Provenzano, presented him with an opportunity.
Dan had another friend who was making press brake tooling and was looking for someone to start representing the product in the United States; the two inevitably teamed up to kickstart what is now Fab Supply.
Fairly new to the industry, John knew he needed a bit more knowledge as he launched into this business.
“The next thing I did was spend a year working on a press brake,” he said, splitting his waking hours between his pre-existing work and this new business dream.
The company’s first FabTech show was exciting: more than 30 companies approached their table and committed to more than $400,000 in purchases. Unfortunately, due to concern about the dimensional differences with the tooling commonly used in the US at the time, distributors were hesitant to fulfill their end of the commitment.
“I worked independently state by state with phone calls and direct mail and started to sell the product. That is when the dealers were able to see that we had a viable product line,” John said. “That’s when we were able to engage the dealer network.”
Fab Supply went into business focused on core values that still hold today, such as superior customer service and quick response times. There’s proof of these values in the many long-term relationships that started from day one and still exist today.
“We get customers that will call in an absolute panic because they have parts due, and they realize they don’t have the tool to make the part. I personally have gone over to the UPS hub at 7:30 pm at night to drop off tools, if we can help customers, we’ll do it.”
Dan and John partnered in business for 10 years, launching out of his facility and building on these core values. The company also has many foundational employees who have been key to its growth, working for the company for 15 to 30 years.
“I think one of the most satisfying parts of this business is when we can come in and develop a solution that increases productivity and decreases production costs. Sometimes it is as simple as coming up with a clever design on an interchangeable set of tools,” John said. “At this point our product lines have expanded to where we can offer the appropriate tooling at a competitive price without overselling customers – it gives us the unique ability to sell to the application as opposed to selling a choice to a customer.”