Sheet Metal Brake: Definition And Basic Terminology

Those who work in metal require certain tools for fabrication. These vary from project to project. However, when it comes to bending or forming metal, one type of tool is common. This is the brake. A sheet metal brake is a major workhorse in this industry.

What Is a Sheet Metal Brake?

Sheet metal, usually stainless steel or aluminum, is the common material fabricators use to produce a variety of products including pipes, tubing and even the tools to produce these specific items. In order to shape it into the desired form, fabricators require specific tools. The brake is one example.

A brake is a simple piece of machinery employed in metalworking to help the worker bend the metal workpiece. Several types of brakes exist. The most common used on sheet metal are:

  • Cornice Brake: Only for the most simple of bends and creases
  • Box-and-Pan: This type can only produce shapes in the form of boxes and pans
  • Bar Folder: Smaller than the Cornice Brake
  • Press Brake: A more complex form of bending machine

Sheet metal brakes can be of any of the above. However, one of the most common is the box-and-pan.

Sheet Metal Brake: Operation

Sheet metal brakes can be mechanized or manual. A hand brake of the box-and-pan type consists of a hinged clamping bar that restrains the metal against the bed. It possesses hinged bending “leaves.” These help hold the workpiece around the clamping bar’s fulcrum point, placing it at the right angle. A stop rod controls the degree of the angle. Upper handles control the clamp.

To prevent the metal striking the clamping bar when bending the 3rd and 4th sides, the operator removes a component of the sub-assembly called a “finger” from both ends of the box. The fabricator can remove fingers as required. By manipulating the components properly, the operator of the sheet metal brake can make precise cuts to meet the specifications of the customer.

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