Press brakes are essential equipment for most metal fabrication operations. They differ by their power source (electric or hydraulic), size, and tonnage (the amount of force they can exert on a piece of metal).

But they also differ by the type of action they use: some push downward on the workpiece while others push up. There are several things to know about up-acting and down-acting press brakes that affect their durability and operation.

Down-Acting Press Brakes

These press brakes have a lower beam that is stationary, while the ram (the powered beam that exerts force) moves down to exert force and up to release that force. The ram hangs from the cam at the top of the machine.

Operators may find using down-acting press brakes easier as they don’t have to move with the workpiece as much. It’s easier to hold the workpiece against the rear gauge as the machine does its work.

However, as a down-acting press brake moves, the cam and bearings undergo stresses that may cause uneven wear. This in turn can affect the press brake’s accuracy in creating consistent, high-quality bends. In extreme cases, wear and excess motion between the downstroke and the upstroke can cause the beam to detach and fall, creating an injury risk for the operator.

Up-Acting Press Brakes

As you’d expect, up-acting press brakes are the inverse of the down-acting version. The upper beam is fixed while the lower, powered beam moves up toward the workpiece to exert force and down again to reset. The ram sits on top of the cam in this configuration, reducing variations in wear. There is less or even no free movement as the ram moves up and down, making bends more consistent. If a mechanical problem causes the fixed beam to fall, it is less likely to fall on the operator, reducing the risk of injury.

However, the operator may have to move along with the workpiece to position it correctly for bending on an up-acting press brake, adjusting the piece between each stroke of the machine. All this movement can increase the risk of injury.

Whether up-acting or down-acting, a CNC hydraulic press brake offers higher precision than a manually operated machine can give. Contact Mac-Tech today to discuss more things to know about up-acting and down-acting press brakes.

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