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Taking Press Braking Automatic to Increase Efficiency

Unifabs continues its journey to growth with its latest investment, a HRB-ATC from Amada

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Posted in Investment | Posted by Dan Robins

Unifabs continues its journey to growth with its latest investment, a HRB-ATC from Amada. Delivered to our doors just before the end of 2021, the new press brake represents the final in a year of investments totalling over £1.75M and three new machines; the Amada HRB-ATC; a REGIUS 3015AJ fibre laser cutting machine; and a Salvagnini P2Lean panel bender. All three investments provide automated solutions, a key element in Unifabs strategy for growth. The ATC (Automatic Tool Change) feature on the mid-range HRB (Hydraulic Retrofittable Bending) press braking machine was the key selling point and fitted into Unifabs strategy perfectly.  

SO, WHAT IS PRESS BRAKING?

CNC metal bending or press braking is the process of bending or forming sheet metal into a defined shape or form. Typically press brakes are loaded with tools which use force to produce different forms within the metal. In metal bending the critical operations that negatively affect productivity are tool set-up and programming times. Setting up machines to create a folded product can be very time consuming. It is also prone to human error and requires experienced operators. The HRB-ATC drastically reduces all three making set-up simpler and quicker. 

AND HOW WILL THE HRB-ATC BENEFIT UNIFABS CUSTOMERS?

Speed of set-up reduced by up to 80%

When compared to manual loading of tools, the ATC can reduce set-up times by up to 80%. This delivers significant advantages in increased productivity and machine up-time. Also, whilst the machine is loading the tools, the operator can be busy performing other tasks, thus increasing overall efficiency. And more potential machine up-time means reduced lead-times for customers.

Amada Press Braking machine Automatic Tool Changer

Wide range of press braking tooling

The mid-range HRB ATC comes complete with a full size ATC and a package of new tools based on Unifabs’ specific requirements. Its compatibility with our existing tooling means that if the ATC doesn’t have a specific tool, the operator can load one manually. The ATC from Amada is also the only solution on the market with a reverse punch system, automatically loading reversed tools with ease. In addition, it is also easy to load special tools or lengths that fall outside of the ATC’s capability. The HRB-ATC is equipped with a hydraulic clamping system for both punch and die which speeds up manual loading significantly. 

Health and safety is paramount

The HRB-ATC comes with additional features designed to make operation less physically demanding. With the Automatic Tool Changer, the operator doesn’t have to load tools. Press Brake tools are heavy, they have to be to perform their job. Amada tools are manufactured using high quality Chromium Molybdenum tool steel and are fully hardened for optimum performance and longevity of use.  Needless to say, if an operator doesn’t have to spend time lifting and loading heavy tools, this represents a great advance in health and safety for operators.         

Reducing human error in press braking

The HRB-ATC comes with powerful offline software, VPSS 3i Bend. This drastically reduces the possibility of human error in manufacturing; ensuring ‘right first time’ production. The software allows fully automated external programming of the bending sequence and choice of tools. It calculates the optimum bending sequence, checks for any potential collisions, and selects tools suitable for the sheet metal part. In combination with the ATC, the software also flags up if tooling is not available. In this case the unavailable tool can be manually loaded by an operator. Our team of design engineers have undertaken software training so that we are ready to manufacture upon completion of installation. 

Another key benefit of the automatic tool changer (ATC) is that less experienced operators and those still training could operate the equipment. Operators undergo extensive training to learn how to manufacture products on a press brake. Understanding which tools to use, how and where to load them, what sequence to make the folds in etc. takes experience. However, as much of the set-up is done through the software, and the ATC takes care of the tool set up, less experienced users can easily operate the HRB-ATC with a lot less training. 

The lack of skilled workforce is something that the industry is addressing with products like the ATC. Unifabs embraces the advances in technology that can increase efficiency and productivity. However, we also realise the importance of this issue, and are proud to be offering apprenticeships in order to train future experts in all of the services we offer.    

Amada Press Braking machine back guage beam

Perfect for Prototyping 

Although Unifabs has a dedicated press brake in the Prototype and Training Academy, the HRB-ATC is perfect for prototyping.  Due to the ATC you can easily switch from one product to another, and then back again only losing minutes. Thus, perfect for producing customer prototypes when the press brake in the academy is already being utilised.   

We are excited to see this in use for our customers. Do contact us for information on our new press brake capacity or for advice on the best methods to manufacture your products. 

Although we do offer press braking as a stand alone service, it is only part of a full suite of manufacturing services that we offer. Unifabs has the experience and expertise to support you with all of your sheet metal work and fabrication needs.  Feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements on +44 (0)24 7639 3889 or email us at sales@unifabs.eu.

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