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Guest Editorial

Preserve productivity

By Belmino Baggetto

FFJ 0218 guest lead

How to keep any press brake in tip-top shape

February 2018 - To operate efficiently, press brakes must be maintained on a regular schedule. Maintenance tasks and regular cleaning are fundamental to avoiding damages and detecting failures. All press brake maintenance operations must be carried out by qualified and experienced workers.

Always keep safety in mind before beginning any maintenance.

• Delineate the space around the press brake with barriers and signals.

• Lower the ram until the punch is completely resting on the die. If the tools are too brittle or delicate, remove them and insert wood or plastic blocks to support the ram.

• Press the red motor stop button.

• Turn off any auxiliary devices by turning the selector switch to position 0.

• Turn the main switch on the electric cabinet door to position 0, and lock it with a padlock.

• Remove power from the main distribution panel to which the press brake is connected.

• Always refer to the press brake manual, and contact the manufacturer with any questions or concerns.

A good maintenance routine begins with daily cleaning—removing debris from tools, bench, supports, backstops and other accessories with a dry cloth. Do not use compressed air for cleaning, and wear neoprene or PVC gloves.

Follow up these efforts weekly by turning the machine off and checking the integrity of all protections and doors: With the machine on and in fast descent, open the back door. The ram and backgauge must stop immediately, and the reset light must turn on. With one panel open, the press brake can be used in slow descent. With both panels open, the press brake cannot be used. If the press brake does not have a reset pilot bulb, the main motor will turn off. Ram descent and backgauge movement must also stop when pushing any of the red mushroom-shaped pushbuttons or when pushing the three-position “down” pedal completely.

After performing these tests, restore normal operation by disengaging the red buttons and pushing the blue button behind the electrical cabinet.

On a monthly basis, set aside time for a set of more in-depth tasks. First, disconnect the compressed air supply. If the exhaust valve is present, discharge the pressurized air from the system and lock the valve with a padlock. Drain condensation from pneumatic filters and check for air leaks.

Then, clean the outside of the hydraulic circuit. Avoid using detergents on valves, near fittings and on the tank cover. Check all hydraulic parts for leaks, especially in the vicinity of the fittings. Replace hoses if there are signs of swelling. Check the oil level on the tank sight glass with the ram up at the upper dead center position. The oil level must also be checked after any maintenance work. After the first month of operation, fasten all connections of the hydraulic system. This inspection must only be carried out when the machine is switched off and not under pressure.

If the machine has been stationary for a long time, clean dust and dirt from the cylinder rods. These substances can damage seals and cause oil leaks. Oil the rod surface, and run the press brake with no load and at maximum cylinder stroke for about five minutes to expel any air bubbles from the hydraulic system.

The air filter located on the tank must be checked, cleaned with compressed air and replaced every three years. In addition, if a heat exchanger is present, clean it with compressed air or steam, directing the jet parallel to the radiator fins.

Clean the electric circuit with compressed air with a maximum pressure of 45 psi while wearing protective glasses. Do not use cleaning products or chemicals that may damage cables. Disassemble and clean the air filters in the electric cabinet and inverter box.

Between the control cabinet frame and door and between the press brake frame and ram, there is a grounding cable. Check this cable for defects, breakages or loose connections.

Finally, once a year, clean the ram guide rails with a cloth, then apply grease using a brush. Clean the backgauge axes guides and lubricate the gear racks with a brush and syringe pump through the grease nipples.

Have a laboratory analyze the oil once a year. Change the oil after the first 2,000 hours of work and then after every 5,000 working hours. Each time the oil is changed, the tank must be cleaned. Always use the recommended oil, and do not mix oils of different brands or oils of different types.

Before carrying out any work on the hydraulic circuit, check that the circuit is depressurized. Be careful because both the oil and some components may be hot.

Neglecting your high-performance machine isn’t a good investment. Developing a maintenance schedule will ensure your press brake performs up to its full potential every day. FFJ

Belmino Baggetto is head of service and maintenance at Gasparini Industries, a manufacturer of sheet metal machinery. He is an expert in repairing and retrofitting press brakes and guillotine shears and has been part of the Gasparini team since 1988. 

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