Which CNC Control for my Press Brake?
- Peter Dawber
The range of CNC controls for press brakes can appear quite daunting when you are faced with making a decision on which control to choose. What should you look out for and what are the pitfalls?
Firstly the press brake itself will partially dictate which controls are available, as some controls will only manage a limited number of CNC axes. If you choose a press brake with a conventional - or torsion bar - design and no optional equipment, this will only use two axes, the ram stroke and the back gauge distance, which will mean that only a simple control is required. If you need a 7-axis machine or add productivity options such as sheet lifters or laser angle measurement, this will need a more complex control with a higher number of axes.
So what are some of the common controls?
CybTouch 8 from Cybelec in Switzerland
A simple control often fitted to conventional machines but still including tonnage calculations and a tooling library for easy programming. It’s EasyBend functionality makes it similar to a simple position controller traditionally fitted to conventional models. An operator can quickly enter the angle, material type, thickness and width to produce a single bend in moments. Actual angle corrections are used to tweak the bend as required. If needed the control still has powerful functions such as pinch retract, dwell time and return height control. This is an easy transition from an NC press brake. It is important to note that a conventional machine is likely to have limitations for tooling height and that mute and pinch points may require manual adjustment.
S630 from ESA Automotion in Italy
This is a mid range, but fully functional control which can satisfy the needs of both those new to press brakes and those migrating from an older CNC. With the numerical entry function it can be used as simply as required or by experienced operators who know exactly what settings they want to use. The 2D graphical user interface allows any operator to quickly program a part from scratch, check viability and then optimise the bending sequence. This control can work with a 4-axis machine including optional CNC crowning and comes complete with a tooling library. A USB port allows tools to be imported and program back ups to be taken with offline software available for office based programming. Overall this is a very popular option for both beginners and experienced users.
S660 W from ESA Automotion in Italy
This is the flagship model from ESA with a 19” touchscreen control, Windows based software and the ability to control a large number of axes and optional equipment such as angle protractors. This brings all the functionality of the ESA630 into a large screen easy-to-use format. The Windows based platform allows the installation of optional CAD/CAM software onto the control, such as the powerful ESABend 3D software which can import DXF and 3D CAD files e.g. STEP and IGES. These are unfolded in the software, with tooling and bend sequencing automatically calculated and the bending code created ready for the machine. The same software can be installed on an office based PC and, with the press brake networked, can be used to program the machine directly from the office. With the ability to move from drawing to production in minutes this is real game changer for productivity.
Other controls commonly fitted to press brakes are the DA66T and DA69T from Delem in The Netherlands. These models are of a powerful touch screen design with 2D and 3D functionality. Offline software is available for the importing of DXF and 3D CAD files. Recent developments from the likes of Morgan Rushworth include on-beam screen projection with gesture sensitive control. As well as the CybTouch range, Cybelec also offer a full range of 2D and 3D controls with various levels of functionality.
In summary then, it is important to consider the required machine functions, the skills of the operator, what level of accuracy is required and whether any productivity options are needed. Is the process to be driven from the workshop or from the office? Are you working with complex CAD models or needing to quickly produce an ad hoc bend at the machine?
If you are faced with this dilemma, why not arrange a demonstration of the different controls and office based software available, in order to make an informed decision? You can even bring along your machine operators or drawing office staff to ensure maximum buy in from across the team. A consultation can be arranged by clicking here.