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Bending/Folding

Complexity simplified

By Robert J. Kolcz, Prima Power North America Inc.

Above: Precise control of bending axes; fast, smooth bending motion; programmability; and rigid construction that is immune to varying thermal conditions make the EBe a robust option for demanding applications.

Bender technology increases productivity and quality at Georgia job shop

July 2020 - When Randy Williams opened his job shop, he was already a seasoned fabricator. “I grew up with metal fabrication,” explains Williams.  “My dad was an aerospace engineer who built trampolines part time when I was 10 years old, and I helped build parts in the basement.  His business evolved into making Ferris wheels and other portable amusement rides, but eventually the liability insurance became too challenging.”

With just a laser and a press brake, Williams opened his own job shop in 2001. Today, Lasertech Metal Works Inc. is transitioning from a 40,000-sq.-ft. production space in Fayetteville, Georgia to a 60,000-sq.-ft. facility in Peachtree City, Georgia, with plans to add another 20,000 square feet later this year.

Lasertech Metal Works supports industries that range from food service, energy, auto racing and shooting ranges to architectural components. The company has an arsenal of metalworking equipment including laser cutting, forming, punching, welding, machining, grinding and powder coating. Its most recent purchase was the Prima Power EBe Express Bender in 2019.

“I was looking at benders for about eight years,” says Williams. “I knew that I wanted a bender, but having the volume to keep it running was a big factor. By 2019, our customer mix had grown to where we could justify the bender.”

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The EBe servo-electric panel bender is tailored to a fabricator’s required maximum productivity, quality and repeatability.

Flexibility

Williams conducted extensive research prior to his purchase. “I went on a few tours to see bender installations. I was impressed with how Prima Power worked to integrate its machines into customers’ existing equipment, regardless of how old it was. Other machine builders were giving me a window of a few years on the age of our equipment. After talking with other machinery builders, he says, Prima Power’s flexibility was the main attraction.

The EBe servo-electric panel bender is designed for each fabricator’s production requirements to achieve maximum productivity, quality and repeatability. The bending operation is fully automated, from loading flat punched parts to unloading the finished product. The EBe is available in models with a bending length up to 149 in. (3,880 mm) and a maximum opening height of 8 in. (203.5 mm). Its construction features actuations of the bending blade and upper tool movements (vertical and horizontal) by NC servo axes instead of hydraulic cylinders. Precise control of bending axes; fast, smooth bending motion; programmability; and rigid construction that is immune to variation in thermal conditions all work together to ensure part quality.

“The EBe features that immediately attracted us were the automatic tool change, elimination of timely setups, the ability to kit [and] the ability to bend large panels. Prima Power was the only bender that could handle 12-ft.-long material while maintaining flange height and gauge capability. These large parts can weigh up to 120 lbs.,” notes Williams. “Before the Prima Power Express Bender, it would take five people with press brakes hours to complete the job. Now it takes two people minutes with the Prima Power EBe. Software was another driving factor—the software is very intuitive and easy to process. We also liked the servo-driven machine compared to the hydraulic.”

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Prima Power’s EBe Express panel bender can process large parts with negative bends in a fraction of the time when compared with conventional equipment.

Boosting productivity

An increasing number of fabricators are facing a trend where large volumes of one part are being replaced by the need to produce small batches of several parts on a just-in-time basis. In traditional bending with press brakes, setup times, technical limits in producing sophisticated components and the requirement for skilled personnel may prove problematic in being able to adapt.

Based on its experience applying servo-electric technology in automatic panel-bending solutions, Prima Power offers an automation solution that focuses on setup rather than material handling. With options like automatic tool change (ATC) and a barcode reader, the machine makes the setup automatically and activates a new part program.

“The EBe has given us the ability to be competitive on jobs that were previously out of our range, such as a part with multiple setups,” explains Williams. “For example, we had this one job with a part we build that has this challenging radius on the front of one bend and required two setups. There was no way around it.

“We took on the part because it is for one of our largest customers, and [orders for] the part grew and it became more of a frustration point for us,” he continues. “On the EBe, however, we can accomplish the bend in one setup.

“Large parts with negative bends are a huge factor for us. These parts have to be flipped and turned, which takes a great deal of space, energy and manpower to perform. The EBe just does it in a fraction of the time.”

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Chad Earnest, plant manager, and owner Randy Williams inspect parts formed on the Prima Power EBe Express Bender.

He cites another challenge: parts with multiple bends. “We have a couple of parts that have 8-plus bends and some of those are negative bends. These parts were a headache to bend on the press brake because the operator had to form it, flip it, turn it and then stack the part. The machine is not running while the operator is trying to stack the part.”

But with the Express bender, the machine is running while the operator is stacking the part, he says, “so the efficiency is just fabulous. Another thing I really liked about the Prima Power Express Bender is the way they staged their material, because they understand that the machine needs to be moving.”

For the parts Lasertech Metal Works runs on its Express Bender, Williams found there is “no comparison for productivity. We are actually having a hard time feeding it because it is so efficient.”

For the generator enclosures his shop bends, it would take four people several days to form these parts on the press brakes. With the EBe, it’s done in less than a day with two people. As a result, Williams says, “we are also able to repurpose machines to other jobs that would normally be running on larger press brakes.”

The labor savings are a big deal. “Operators don’t get worn out. We are not staffed to have four people on our press brakes. This was very inefficient and challenging with scheduling production, not to mention the increased quality and consistency in part tolerances with the EBe Express Bender.”

Williams credits Prima Power with being very open and accessible, noting that the service technicians “are always genuine and realistic. Our goal is to add a Prima Power punch/laser soon. We are very excited about the future.”  FFJ

Robert Kolcz is director of marketing and corporate communications for Prima Power North America Inc.

Sources

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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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