Everything you need to know about a Press Brake Retrofit!

Press Brake Retrofit FAQ?

What is a Press Brake Retrofit?

A Press Brake Retrofit is a cost-effective way in which press brake owners can continue to use their press brakes without replacement. The process of retrofitting the machines means upgrading them with features that will enhance the performance of the press brakes to help decrease the costs of production. These upgrades include making advances that will increase ram accuracy, as well as control in the pedestal and back gauge, as well as increase control in the overall press brake system.

The goal of a Press Brake Retrofit is to decrease the rate at which operators are worn down due to excessive setup and preparation time. Retrofits also aim to make sure operators and programmers of press brake machines know how to properly control their systems and many times, operators will receive training to enhance their knowledge and productivity, in regards to the press brake machine. A Press Brake Retrofit will provide a much-needed update to both mechanical and hydraulic press brakes, though the possible adjustments may differ depending on the type of press brake machine you own.
CNC300 Press Brake Control

This is a photo of a CNC 300 Press Brake Backgauge control. A common Press Brake retrofit includes utilizing existing Accurpress back gauges and replacing the AP2 with an Automec CNC 150 or CNC 300 Press Brake Backgauge Control. You can usually upgrade existing press brake/ back gauge controls for less than 1/2 the price of purchasing a completely new system. There are 2-axis 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 control. Your Press Brake Controls will likely go out of date before the mechanical aspects of your press brake stop working, so it is best to update the control system once your CNC control system goes out of date.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 control, you can continue to utilize the working mechanical systems of your press brake machine, as well as increase your company’s output. Increased ram capabilities and accuracy will lead to less wasted materials and easier production. Additionally, replacing your Press Brake Control 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 Press brake Control without replacing the entire press brake?

Yes! It is possible to replace your press brake control without replacing the entire press brake. Many times, a press brake is programmable, so without working controls, the entire press brake will need to be replaced. 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, then you can retrofit your press brake machine in an inexpensive efficient manner, such that you could get decades more use out of your machine. If you do need to replace your press brake control, you do not need to replace the entire machine, as the mechanical aspect of the machine likely still works. In replacing your press brake control, there are options for the extent of the capabilities you would like to have. The press brake control can be retrofitted to have a certain position that it will return the machine to, or it could be much more advanced and be a PC-based control that has more capabilities, from networking to offline programming of the machine. The entire press brake should generally only be replaced if the mechanical components of the machine are not working, though a retrofitted and new press brake control can be very beneficial and eventually lucrative for your company.

Should I replace or upgrade my back gauge? Should I upgrade my back gauge control?

If your back gauge control 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 to be replaced or upgraded. The back gauge system can vary greatly in size, which can affect the process of upgrading the back gauge control, but the upgrade process is much more cost-effective than entirely replacing the back gauge if it still works mechanically. Replacing or retrofitting your back gauge control can be essential to increasing the output of your press brake 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 properly. 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 greater than continuing to use a faulty back gauge.

Can I retrofit a mechanical press brake?

A mechanical press brake can be retrofitted, though it may be difficult to increase the productivity of some parts of a mechanical press brake machine. A mechanical press brake can be refitted with a new stand-alone CNC back gauge system, but it is not possible to increase the efficiency of the ram control. 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, it is recommended that you retrofit a mechanical press brake if you have an operation involving coining or another operation requiring a great deal of accuracy because a mechanical press brake can produce high tonnage from the bottom dead center of the machine.

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 continue to maintain accurate bends using significant force while allowing the speed and positioning of the ram to be controllable. Many other types of hydraulic press brakes can be retrofitted, from depth stop to torque tube, all of which can be controlled through a PC. 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 set-up 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, but outdated press brake be 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 the effectiveness of your press brake machine, 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 are consistently having 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. A ram system that is also not able to consistently repeat commands should also be replaced, as it is not efficient to have to fix the system each time to be able to repeat the commands. If the overall press brake system is working, aside from the ram system, it could be very effective and lucrative to replace the ram system, sooner rather than later.

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. 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. If your press brake machine is still functional, a Retrofit is sometimes a preferred option to purchasing a new press brake because of the costs and inconveniences of purchasing an entirely new machine. Additionally, a Press Brake Retrofit will increase company productivity after the upgrades are made, thus 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. A control-only retrofit cost between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on how complex the brake system is. The new control 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 if your press brake system is working properly 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 retrofit?

When evaluating the ROI on a press brake retrofit, it is important 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. Whereas 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 the productivity of your press brake operators, 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 it is necessary along with a retrofit, but 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 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 dimensions. These systems can be retrofitted to press brakes, shears, cut-off saws and punches.

Whether you need a press brake retrofit or a new press brakecontact us at (781) 893-3403 for help.