Press Brake Retrofit and Press Brake Controller FAQ
What is a Press Brake Retrofit?
A Press Brake Retrofit is a cost-effective way press brake owners can continue to use their press brakes without replacement. Retrofitting a press brake means upgrading them with features that enhance the press brakes' performance to decrease production costs. These upgrades include making advances that will increase ram accuracy and press brake control in the pedestal and back gauge and increase productivity in the overall press brake system.
Can I improve worker productivity by improving press brake control?
One press brake retrofit goal is to decrease press brake operators' fatigue caused by excessive press brake setup and preparation time. Retrofits also aim to make sure operators and programmers of press brake machines can control their systems properly. When you add a new press brake controller, your operators need the training to enhance their knowledge and productivity regarding the press brake machine. Therefore when you invest in a press brake controller, you are also investing in training employees on proper use and safety. By increasing employee knowledge and press brake control, you reduce mistakes, injury, and fatigue they can produce.
Can you provide an example of a controller that I can purchase to retrofit my press brake?
The photo shown is a CNC 300 Press Brake Backgauge controller.
A common Press Brake control retrofit includes utilizing existing back gauges and replacing the controller with an Automec CNC 150 or CNC 300 Press Brake Backgauge Control. You can usually upgrade the existing press brake controller for less than 1/2 the price of purchasing a completely new system. There are 2-axis press brake control upgrades for Hurco® and Accurpress® back gauges, and retrofit press brake controls for many press brakes in the field today. Click here to learn more about Automec press brake retrofits and backgauge control upgrades.
What are the benefits of upgrading my press brake control?
There are many benefits to upgrading your press brake controller. Your press brake controls will likely go out of date before your press brake's mechanical aspects stop working, so it is best to update the control system once your CNC control system goes out of date. In upgrading the press brake controller, you can continue to utilize your press brake machine's working mechanical systems and increase your company's output. Increased ram capabilities and accuracy will lead to less wasted materials and easier production. Additionally, replacing your Press Brake Controller now can add years of life to your machine as a whole, saving you time until you have to replace the entire press brake machine, and thus saving you money as well.
Can I replace my control system without replacing the entire press brake?
Yes! It is possible to replace your press brake controller without replacing the entire press brake. Often, a machine is programmable, so without working press brake controls, the whole press brake will need replacing. However, not all press brakes act in that way, as some can work with only manual control instead of programmable control. Therefore, if you do not need an entirely new press brake control for your press brake to work, you can retrofit your press brake in an inexpensive, efficient manner. As a result, you'll get decades more use out of your machine.
Why would I upgrade my press bake controller if it still works?
If you need to replace your press brake controller, you do not need to replace the entire press brake, as the machine's mechanical aspect likely still works. In upgrading your press brake controller, there are options for the extent of the capabilities you would like to have. You can retrofit the press brake to have a particular position that it will return to, or it could be much more advanced and be a PC-based control with more capabilities, from networking to offline programming of the machine.
Therefore, you should replace the whole press brake only if the device's mechanical components are not working. If your machine mechanics are in good working condition, retrofitting and new press brake control can be beneficial and lucrative for your company.
Should I replace or upgrade my back gauge? Should I upgrade my back gauge controls?
If your back gauge controller is part of an older machine, it has probably reached the end of its useful life. However, it is likely that your back gauge itself still works mechanically, and only the back gauge control needs replacement or upgrading. The back gauge system can vary significantly in size, affecting upgrading the back gauge controller. However, the upgrade process is much more cost-effective than replacing the back gauge if it still works mechanically. Replacing or retrofitting your back gauge control can be essential to increasing your press brake's output. And can make the retrofit process worth your time and money, instead of just attempting to work inefficiently with a machine that does not work correctly. However, you should replace or upgrade your back gauge if the mechanical system is no longer working. Though it may initially cost more, the overall cost benefits will be more significant than using a faulty back gauge.
Can I retrofit a mechanical press brake?
A Press Brake Retrofit will provide a much-needed update to mechanical and hydraulic press brakes, though the possible adjustments may differ depending on the type of press brake machine you own.
Retrofitting a mechanical press brake is possible, though it may be challenging to increase some parts' productivity. Your shop can retrofit mechanical press brake controls with a new CNC back gauge system, but it is difficult to increase the ram control efficiency. The ram in mechanical-style press brakes is very accurate but is not programmable, so even with a retrofit, it will not be possible to create sequencing through multiple bend angles. Therefore, we recommend retrofitting a mechanical press brake if you have an operation involving coining or another process requiring a great deal of accuracy because a mechanical press brake can produce high tonnage from the machine's bottom dead center.
Do I have many options for retrofitting a hydraulic press brake?
Many Hydraulic Press Brakes can be retrofitted to serve your needs, especially regarding ram programmability. Hydraulic Press Brakes have hydraulics and limit switches to help program the ram force, so retrofitting can upgrade these controls to allow the ram position and speed to be programmable, instead of needing to be done manually. The rocker-style press brake uses a CNC control to maintain accurate bends using significant force while allowing the ram's speed and positioning to be controllable. Many other types of hydraulic press brakes can be retrofitted, from depth stop to torque tube, all of which can be PC controlled. These computer controls are appealing for their functionality and many features that will upgrade nearly any Hydraulic Press Brake. Chances are, if you need a retrofitting of a Hydraulic Press Brake, it will be possible.
If my press brake is still working, why should I do a press brake retrofit?
If your press brake is still working, a Press Brake Retrofit is the best option to save money, time, and logistical hassles. From a financial point of view, the Retrofit is the best option, as a new press brake could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it would be inefficient to continue to use the worn-down press brake. Using a worn-down press brake can lead to operator fatigue and long setup times, both of which lead to decreased productivity and profitability. You will inevitably save money if your press brake is working more efficiently and your operators are knowledgeable about programming a press brake using its upgraded interface. Depending on your needs, a Press Brake Retrofit could give you the option of having someone programming the press brake remotely or having an operator programming the machine in person. Leaving a working outdated press brake is an option, but it will be more work for your operators, and the output will likely lead to lower profits and more employee fatigue.
How do I know if I should replace the ram of my press brake?
Your ram is essential to your press brake machine's effectiveness, and after some time, the ram system may need replacement. You should be looking at how accurate and efficient the ram system is and if both sides are consistently equal. If you always have to rework and fix mistakes made by the ram system, it is likely time to replace the ram system, as those mistakes made by the system can cost a great deal of money. You should replace a ram system that cannot consistently repeat commands, as it is not efficient to have to fix it each time. If the overall press brake system is working, aside from the ram system, it could be beneficial and lucrative to replace the ram system sooner.
Will a press brake retrofit save me money vs. purchasing a new press brake?
A press brake retrofit can cost significantly less money than purchasing a new press brake, assuming your press brake is still working. Buying a new press brake could cost upwards of $100,000, as well as cost your company time and energy to replace the machine. In comparison, a Press Brake Retrofit will cost between $5,000 and $30,000, depending on the needed services, making it a much more affordable option. Suppose your press brake machine is still functional. In that case, a Retrofit is sometimes a preferred option for purchasing a new press brake because of the costs and inconveniences of buying an entirely new machine. Additionally, a Press Brake Retrofit will increase company productivity after the upgrades, leading to an increase in profitability. Although there are always exceptions, a company will typically spend less money on a Retrofit than a new press brake but will receive the added financial benefits of increased productivity.
What does it cost for a press brake control retrofit?
A Press Brake Control Retrofit is a cost-effective way to continue to use your press brake system, as long as the back gauge control is still working efficiently. Depending on the press brake system's complexity, a control-only retrofit costs between $10,000 and $25,000. The new controller will work alongside and will be able to communicate with the back gauge, ram, and additional axes. Additionally, if you only need to replace one axis of your press brake, a single-axis retrofit could cost between $5,000 And $7,000 per axis that needs replacement. Even though the cost of retrofitting your press brake is not cheap, it will be significantly less expensive in the end when your press brake system is working correctly overall. If your press brake is not working hydraulically, mechanically, or electrically, you should first understand the costs of getting it working again before thinking about retrofitting your machine. If it is not cost-effective to pay to fix your press brake, you may decide to replace your entire press brake system, for which there are many options for new press brake systems.
What factors do I need to consider when evaluating the ROI on a press brake or press brake control retrofit?
When evaluating the ROI on a press brake retrofit, it is essential to consider the further cost of having to replace the entire machine in just a few years if you fail to upgrade the system now. In comparison, a press brake retrofit could add decades of life to your press brake machine. You will also want to consider the new rate of efficiency, should you get a retrofit, as it will add to your press brake operators' productivity, who will be able to work at a much quicker and more accurate rate. You should consider the current state of the machinery itself, as fixing that could be costly, if necessary, along with a retrofit. Still, if your machinery is in working condition, the ROI for just a retrofit will be substantial, as your machine will work more effectively and efficiently in the modern world. Press brake operators will be able to use new PC programming to speed up the process of bending metal, meaning your company will be making more money after investing a relatively low amount of money into a retrofit.
Do you need a press brake retrofit, controller, or a new press brake?
Automec, Inc. can help! We are the industry leader in retrofitting press brakes and shears. Our positioning systems consist of a programmable control where the operator enters a dimension, and a motorized gauging mechanism automatically moves through a sequence of programmed measurements. Our back gauges and controllers can retrofit most press brakes, shears, cut-off saws, and punches.