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Press Brakes

Big bend

By Lynn Stanley

Above: LVD’s Easy-Form laser controls ram position to give Belden Manufacturing a precise angle every time.

Large panel forming and heavy gauge materials prove no contest for press brake technology

May 2015 - “Big companies keep getting bigger and they are doing it with newer and more efficient equipment,” says Jerry Wilson, owner of Belden Manufacturing. “If you don’t invest you are losing ground because the competition will whittle away at you.” 

The stakes can be high for mid-sized, family-owned companies like Belden. But the tenacious precision sheet metal manufacturer is hitting its growth targets with aggressive moves and discerning machine choices—including that of a three-year-old press brake with technology LVD Strippit says has other equipment manufacturers playing catch-up.

“I wanted to increase production without adding labor costs [and] improve efficiency to better control costs,” Wilson says. Not one to shy away from buying a new piece of equipment when he needs it, Wilson also believes in doing his homework. “I bought the LVD PPEB press brake loaded,” he says, referring to the 150 ton, 10 ft., PPEB model he installed with an LVD-developed control, CNC crowning and Easy-Form laser. 

The press brake says Wilson, “runs like a well-oiled clock. I haven’t had to make upgrades. We’ve only had to change the hydraulic fluid.”

FFJ-0515-press-image1

Right angles

The Easy-Form laser—coupled with CNC crowning technology—eliminates trial and error for Belden, allowing the Kirkwood, New York-based manufacturer to achieve a good part the first time. “With the Easy-Form laser we are actually measuring the angle at which the metal is being bent and relaying that feedback to the ram’s positioning system,” says Tony Marzullo, business manager for LVD’s press brakes division.

“If you are bending a 90-degree angle, once that angle and its tolerances are achieved, ram motion is stopped. The ram also compensates for materials with springback characteristics. We’re literally controlling ram position to give the manufacturer a precise angle every time,” he says. The Easy-Form laser works in concert with CNC crowning which adjusts the machine bed where needed to ensure uniform bending.”

Prior to buying this line, Belden farmed out large-panel forming jobs. “The PPEB allowed us to pull about $40,000 worth of subcontracted work back in-house,” says Wilson. “We were able to quickly break into new markets and grow our customer base for larger sheet metal requirements and heavier gauge materials.”

Belden fabricates sheet metal brackets and simulator covers for a variety of customers but has extended its reach to produce high-tolerance parts such as 1⁄4-in. thick components for gas drilling applications and cover packages for makers of circuit boards.

The PPEB runs 0.01 in. thick up to 3⁄4 in. thick steel and stainless as well as aluminum up to 1⁄4 in. thick. Part sizes range from 3 in. up to 60 in. with one or multiple bends. “We can go thicker than 1⁄4 in. aluminum depending on length. That is what is so great about the press brake and Easy-Form laser,” Wilson continues. Changing material thicknesses doesn’t cause operators any worries “because if grain direction changes or there are slight variables in sheet thickness, the Easy-Form laser compensates for that. We don’t have to constantly FFJ-0515-press-image2check the part to make sure we’re holding tolerances.”

Efficient press brake setup is essential for Belden, which makes multiple changeovers and ships approximately 125 jobs a week. “We’re using one-third of the setup pieces on new jobs and with repeat jobs, the control’s intelligent database eliminates that step altogether. We’re saving roughly 8 to 10 hours a week in setup time.”

Saving steps

The press brake has also positively impacted the quality assurance component of Belden’s workload. For example, laser-cut blanks are fed to the PPEB press brake for forming before welding. “With our old press brakes we had to perform a quality check both before the welding process and after,” Wilson recalls. “We’ve been able to eliminate the quality check prior to welding due to the PPEB’s accuracy and precision.”

Belden finds the press brake continues to help bridge any skills gap, especially for green employees. “The press brake is so smart it makes it hard for an operator to fail,” Wilson says. “We took a young man out of high school a year ago and in terms of the parts he now produces, his skill level is equivalent to that of an operator with four years of work experience.”

Shouldering the workload of two press brakes, the PPEB has helped Belden more than double its revenue. Based on that success, Wilson is already looking to purchase an LVD electric portable press brake to handle small parts processing. 

There are additional opportunities to streamline Belden’s operations, he says. “We have mill parts with production cycles 25 to 30 minutes long. Removing a part and deburring it still leaves the operator with 15 minutes to burn. With the portable press brake, I could unplug it, move it over to the operator’s work area and have him forming parts while the laser jobs are running.”

For Wilson, it’s all about the customer. “When you have to turn away a job because you don’t have the equipment to handle it, you open the door for your customer to go elsewhere and you risk losing them for good.” 

Of his strategic growth plans, Wilson believes “it’s good to have dreams.” And while the stuff of dreams is different for everyone, “it’s a beautiful thing when you have the right supplier and the right equipment to support your dreams.” FFJ

Sources

Banner

Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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