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Bending/Folding

A light touch

By Gretchen Salois

Above: Forming a part at 90 degrees using Cidan's Pro XZ 30 model helps users eliminate material handling during the bending process.

Machine design minimizes surface marring, eases operator handling

February 2017 - When a potential customer came with a big job for Kinninger Production Welding to quote, President Kevin Thobe felt it was necessary to boost the New Bremen, Ohio, shop’s capabilities. As time wore on, company leaders discovered that automating its bending/folding processes would promote higher productivity.

That job prompted Kinninger to purchase its first bending/folding machine from Cidan Machinery. “At first, all we needed was a machine capable of bending down material,” recalls Ryan Heckman, sales manager. “As we continued to use the machine and saw its capabilities, we realized that bending both up and down would help us when maneuvering parts.”

Kinninger’s second Cidan bending machine, installed in March 2016, is the Pro Z 30 model. It eliminated handling material during the bending process. “We don’t have to flip or spin material once it’s on the machine,” says Thobe.

FFJ 0217 bending image1

A machine operator unloads a completed part.

Kinninger Production Welding first saw Cidan’s Pro Z 30 at a trade show. “Cidan’s bending machine had tooling taller than anyone else’s and that’s what we needed,” Thobe says. 

Some features that stood out include the Combi-Beam, an automatic upper beam rotation with two tool sets. This feature allows more parts to be run with little or no tool changeovers. “Our optimal eccentric drive (OED) generates extremely high clamp pressure, as well as a clean, operator-friendly clamping system, for the life of the machine,” says Chandler Barden, national sales manager at Cidan in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Designed with operators in mind, “We took a look at both the mechanics of the machine, as well as the human/operator interaction, to ensure an ideal working environment,” explains Barden. 

Mark-free

Since the purchase, Kinninger Production Welding hasn’t looked back. “The big difference between a traditional press brake and this Pro Z 30 is that we don’t have to worry about die marks,” Plant Supervisor Kevin Schwieterman says. “Any type of marking won’t work for our customers.” Bending a 90-degree angle on a traditional press brake results in lines on the surface. Damage to material is no longer worrisome when the shop works with mirrored or brushed stainless steel.

Previously, bending parts meant flipping material up and down to achieve each bend, often resulting in surface scuffs and scratches. Each job differs and Kinninger operators will bend sheet from 0.028-in. up to 11-gauge thick. “When working with thinner materials, flipping each piece to get the up and down bends resulted in bowed material,” says Schwieterman. 

FFJ 0217 bending image2

Completed mirrored finished stainless part installed as a rear sill in a hearse.

Kinninger supplies bended sheet to such manufacturing sectors as recreational vehicles, food equipment, agricultural machinery, capital equipment, lift trucks, medical equipment, and more. 

Use of the Pro Z 30 has raised production capacity for the job shop. “Since we added the machine we no longer need to run our other machines constantly. We don’t need to work overtime any longer in order to keep up,” says Heckman, adding that output has tripled.

Machine maintenance is minimal, other than keeping it clean after a day’s work and greasing parts on the bender every few months. An added convenience is that the machine allows for easy [mechanical] finger replacement. The guide against which the part rests when performing the bend is sturdy, Schwieterman says. “Say a guy shoves material too hard onto the machine and breaks a [machine] finger. We can go in and replace that single finger as opposed to changing out an entire section.”

Smart movement

Loading parts is a lot less awkward as operators no longer need to manually hold pieces with their hands as bending progresses. “The machine holds and moves it and knows where to bend it,” Thobe explains. “On the old machine, working with a 60 in. by 60 in. square piece meant holding the thin piece of metal perfectly still by hand to prevent bowing of material. Now we can throw it onto the table, input the desired bend angle and other measurements and we’re done.”

FFJ 0217 bending image3

An operator positions a sheet for a second bend.

Bending larger parts has become easier because the Pro Z 30 allows the operator to fold the material without issue, even if it’s an angled part. “I can run those angled parts on the back of the machine and lay the part flat on the table whereas, with the older machine, I would have to hold the end sticking out of the machine with my hands,” Schwieterman says.

Another design difference, he continues, is the absence of a crowning system. During the bending process on older machines, the center of the material naturally crowns so dies must rise up to bend the thicker sheet harder in the center to achieve a true 90-degree angle on longer formed parts. “Now instead of going in and using a wrench to adjust and tighten the machine to achieve that stronger bend, the machine automatically knows how long the part is and puts more pressure where needed,” Schwieterman says. 

Over the last few months, Kinninger’s leaders have watched productivity and accuracy improve, helping to skillfully satisfy customers. The capital investment was worth it, he adds. “Any scratching or damage to the surface of the metal is unacceptable. Before, if material was scratched, we’d have to start over. That gets expensive.” FFJ

Sources

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