Press brake or power apron brake?

Sheet Metal Fabrication techniques, questions and help. "Tricks of the Trade"

Moderators: Harold_V, GlennW

Post Reply
Mr Ron
Posts: 1592
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:36 pm
Location: Vancleave, Mississippi

Press brake or power apron brake?

Post by Mr Ron » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:35 am

I need a brake to make simple bends on mild steel, 11 ga x 10'. I found three Chicago, Dreis & Krump power apron brakes; (2) 3/16" x 10'; (1) 1/4" x 10'. They are 1975 and 1987 for the 3/16" and 1972 for the 1/4" brakes. They are $21500 for the 3/16" brakes and $24500 for the 1/4" brake. Would these be overkill for the thickness of steel I need to bend?
There is also an HTC 12' press brake going for $26500. I don't know much about brakes. I only have a general knowledge of how they work when I worked in a shipyard and watched them operating. Of course price is a factor, but what brake would be best for me? I won't be doing any precision, high volume work. It may be used maybe 2-3 days a week.
As far as learning curve is concerned, which type of brake is the easiest to set up and operate? The actual work will be done by people I will have to train.
Are there any things I should be looking at to determine its working condition? I have seen some videos of the same machines under power, but how much can I rely on that. The machines are located at least 1000 miles from me, so that prevents me from checking them out in person. Please advise me ASAP.
P.S. I may need to bend small pieces of 7 ga steel, but primarily 11 ga.
Mr.Ron from South Mississippi

User avatar
ken572
Posts: 2600
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:11 pm
Location: Mesa, Arizona. 85201-1517

Re: Press brake or power apron brake?

Post by ken572 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:49 pm

Mr Ron,

After Some thought about this post of your's,
this is what I have come up with. If i was in
your situation and I was going to spend that
much money on a New or Pre-Owned
Press Brake or Power Apron Brake, I
would take a plane, bus, or car/truck day trip
and go look at this equiptment. If I liked it,
I would give them my offer which would include
no less then a day's training on the machine,
and this would include setup and bending of
some material like I would be using it for.
Also delivery and setup in my shop. If they
didn't like the idea, I would go someware
that would work with me. That is to much
money to screw yourself out of, and if you do
not have the expertise to install, setup, operate,
and properly and safely train a new person to
operate this, and he or she gets injured.. :shock:
What a liability that would be for you. :roll:

Just my thoughts. :wink:

Ken. :)
One must remember.
The best learning experiences come
from working with the older Masters.
Ken.

Mr Ron
Posts: 1592
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:36 pm
Location: Vancleave, Mississippi

Re: Press brake or power apron brake?

Post by Mr Ron » Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:10 pm

Ken, Thanks for your reply. Actually, it's my brother-in-law who needs a machine and he appointed me as his agentto find the right machine. In the meantime while I was running around, he bought a 155 ton press brake. He ignored my recommendations, so now it's all up to him. Lets hope he made the right decision.
Mr.Ron from South Mississippi

User avatar
steamin10
Posts: 6662
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 11:52 pm
Location: NW Indiana. Close to Lake Michigan S. tip

Re: Press brake or power apron brake?

Post by steamin10 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:55 pm

So sorry you went on a chase for the Emporers new clothes. Comunication is like that sometimes.

For the post mortem: IMHO If you can afford and find one, a press brake is the best way to go. It will do many jobs in lighter gauges with an assortment of dies, that will make diferent shaped pocket bends. Material thickness, and hardness is key, so the charts must be used so as not to overload the machine bed and hydraulics. Used dies are available from time to time at auction, and some shorter dies fitted to a long bed can suffice on some machines that dont need to go a full 10 ft.
A production trick is to set up a series of dies for say a tool drawer blank, and the worker simply moves left to each station of operation on that machine, getting several operations on that blank. This cannot be done on a leaf brake.

A long leaf brake, will give you roundy corners on your bends and they increase with material thickness. They require no dies to speak of, and for average work, are the core of what industry used to be. Many can be had for little money, and they only wear at the hinge pins, which can be machined back into tightness if needed. it will also only give you a choice of degrees on a simgle bend.

The beds on these things, are a diferent issue. I have seen many light shears, and to a lesser degree press brakes with warped or cracked beds, from overloading.

So now the cats outta the barn, dont stress the little things, just carry on.
Big Dave, former Millwright, Electrician, Environmental conditioning, and back yard Fixxit guy. Now retired, persuing boats, trains, and broken relics.
We have enough youth, how about a fountain of Smart. My computer beat me at chess, but not kickboxing
It is not getting caught in the rain, its learning to dance in it. People saying good morning, should have to prove it.

Mr Ron
Posts: 1592
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:36 pm
Location: Vancleave, Mississippi

Re: Press brake or power apron brake?

Post by Mr Ron » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:42 pm

Steamin10, Although the deed has been done, I thank you for your reply. Originally, my Brother-in-Law wanted a machine that would bend up 11 ga steel into a box shape with 8" sides. I found him several pan and finger brakes that would do the job. Then he changed his mind and only wanted a 2-sided bend; he would weld up the remaining 2 sides by hand to form the box. That dictated a plain apron brake and I found several. He then went and found/bought a 155 ton press brake, which I felt was overkill. I am aware of the different types of bends that can be made with a press brake, by changing the dies, but I understand dies are very expensive. If it is only one type of bend he wants, I feel the apron brake would be the best choice and less cost than a press brake. I also think the pan/finger brake would be better than having additional welding required.
Mr.Ron from South Mississippi

User avatar
steamin10
Posts: 6662
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 11:52 pm
Location: NW Indiana. Close to Lake Michigan S. tip

Re: Press brake or power apron brake?

Post by steamin10 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:15 am

ya. As explained a leaf brake has limits on bend tightness and ga. ability that are less than what you would pay for in a press brake. A press brake is much handier in many ways for production. But these abilities are what you pay for in the dies and machine size. An error is usually made in that production real estate is expenive to provide and maintain. Where a leaf brake may do one type of job, a press brake seems to attract much more widely coveted jobs, and can supprt diferent lines of work. And of course capacity. Big hammer- little hammer? If you dont have the capacity to start with, there is no real way to build it up.

A leaf brake will do many jobs quite well, dont get me wrong. But there are many jobs it is just not tight and right enough.
Big Dave, former Millwright, Electrician, Environmental conditioning, and back yard Fixxit guy. Now retired, persuing boats, trains, and broken relics.
We have enough youth, how about a fountain of Smart. My computer beat me at chess, but not kickboxing
It is not getting caught in the rain, its learning to dance in it. People saying good morning, should have to prove it.

Post Reply