CNC Machinery 101: What Is a Press Brake?

When it comes to bending sheet and plate metal, there’s no machine quite like the press brake…. but what exactly is a press brake and how does it work?



Press Brake 101

There are three common types of press brakes:

  1. Manual
  2. Hydraulic
  3. Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

While these three types of press brakes may look and operate differently, they are all used to form predetermined (and precise) bends by clamping sheet metal between a matching punch and die.

With a typical press brake, two C-frames form the sides of the machine and connect to a stationary table. The die is mounted on the table, while the punch is carried by a moveable beam. After an operator slides their sheet metal in between the table and the beam, the beam and punch descend toward the table, meet with the die, and form the workpiece.

Brake forming relies on force… and a lot of it. A press brake’s force, also known as tonnage, determines the total amount of pressure that can be applied via the punch during a bend. Forming thicker and/or harder materials like steel will require more tonnage than thinner workpieces or softer metals.

In addition to tonnage, you must also be aware of a press brake’s bending length—the maximum length of sheet metal that can be bent by the machine. For example, if you are working with a press brake that has a 10’ bending length, you wouldn’t be able to form a 12’ piece of sheet metal because it would be too long.



What Makes a CNC Press Brake Special?

Compared to manual and hydraulic press brakes, CNC press brakes have the highest precision and customization abilities because they use computer technology to control accuracy and increase efficiency.

When utilizing a CNC press brake, the operator will enter data (such as the bending angle and the plate’s thickness, width, and grade) into a controller. From here, the press brake takes over and handles all the heavy lifting.



What Can We Bend for You?

In 2020, our company purchased a new Accurpress Accell E 425012 CNC press brake. This machine allows us to economically produce high-quality and complex parts thanks to its superior build, impressive number of features, and advanced controls.

With the help of our Accell E press brake, we’re able to manufacture sheet metal parts from a variety of metals, including:

  • Aluminum (all grades)
  • Stainless steel
  • Cold rolled steel
  • Hot rolled steel
  • Galvanized steel
  • Mild steel
  • High strength steel
  • Brass
  • Copper

Whether you need help producing a single prototype or 100 of the same part, we can make it happen with the help of our CNC press brake.

To learn more about our fabrication department’s capabilities, visit