Every business owner wants one thing from their operations: efficiency. From agriculture to manufacturing, efficiency remains the golden standard of operations that every company aspires to—it saves money and time and reduces the need for increased staffing.
The same goes for press brakes—machines that bend sheet metal and metal plates. In a modern world of endless production, press brakes are becoming increasingly prevalent. In fact, estimates show that the sector will grow by over $400,000,000 in the coming years.
The creation of offline programming has revolutionized the world of modern precision bending. There’s still manual intervention required, of course, but in general, these tools make press brake operations run more smoothly than ever before.
One of the easiest ways to program your press brake is by using a CNC controller, but it can be hard to know which one on the market is best suited to your press brake. So let’s dive in and find out.
Benefits of using a backgauge CNC controller
As with any business expenditure, it’s important to know how investing in a new piece of equipment can benefit your operations in the long run. Here are just some of the advantages of using a backgauge system with your press brake.
Historically, press brakes have been one of the key culprits of bottlenecks in a manufacturing context.
Bottlenecks occur when one part of the process takes too long to complete, making all the tasks that come before it pile up. It’s bad for your efficiency and bad for your costs.
By using gauging systems such as Automec’s CNC 150, it’s common to experience productivity increases of 40% (yes, really). The less time you spend on manual gauging, the more efficiently your business will run.
With the PC 800 backgauge system, for example, you can save any corrections you make to a given material. That way, the next time you use the material, you’ll enjoy a more accurate run.
Having an efficient operation frees up your time and your employees’ time to get on with growing the business. Programming your press brakes also reduces the likelihood of human error, therefore ensuring a press brake system that runs smoothly.
Save on costs
The more tasks that need to be done manually, the more staff members you’ll require. Opting to program your press brake with a retrofit control and gauging system means fewer staff members are required to manually adjust it, therefore reducing staffing and overtime costs.
These extra costs can be enjoyed as profits or poured back into the business to further improve efficiency and increase output.
When productivity increases and staffing costs decrease, you’re left with more money to enjoy as profit for the business. Not to mention that the more efficient your operations are, the bigger the possibility of running extra press brakes and increasing your team’s capacity.
Choose the right backgauge and press brake controller system for your business
Here at Automec, we’re passionate about creating backgauge systems to revolutionize your operations. Before selecting the most suitable backgauge system for your needs, consider your requirements.
Establish what your budget is and the functionality you’ll need from a given backgauge controller. Here are a few of our bestselling models and their features, so you can decide which best fits your business.
PC 800 Backgauge Controller
As with all of Automec’s products, productivity is at the heart of this backgauge system.
The PC 800 is a graphical control for Automec’s backgauges, which uses 2D graphics and digital photos to make your press brake forming easier.
Not only does the PC 800 represent the part-forming sequence using 2D graphics, but it also allows you to use jpegs of your workpiece and tools to give the operator an accurate visual rendering of each bend.
Adding photos improves the 2D simulation because it helps you see the part in all its glory, with detail on the cut-outs, holes, and insertion hardware.
Plus, you’ll enjoy more visibility on how the operator positions the part on the die as well as the orientation of the gauge fingers.
All you need to do is download the relevant photos from your camera to the computer you’ll be using.
It’s up to you which method of programming you decide to use for the job—some operators use both methods on one job. Create the party using the 2D graphics model to check for tooling interferences, and then substitute the photos of each bend for the 2D graphics in the run mode.
PC 800 makes tool selection and programming simple. Fill in the blanks on a template screen, then select a tool from the PC 800’s existing images. Alternatively, upload your own to store in the tool library. If you need to, you can load a separate tool set for each individual bend.
Thanks to the photo feature, you can reproduce detailed die setups on the next run with the help of visual representation.
Plus, you can create a material list, which sets out all parameters, including the type of material, thickness, and ability to spring back. When you make corrections to angles, you can store the corrections for the particular material.
That means next time you’re working with the same material, the number of corrections needed will be minimal.
Flexibility is at the heart of the PC 800, so you can program jobs at the press brake or offline—whatever works best for you. Enter data either directly on the LCD touch screen or simply connect a standard PC keyboard and mouse.
Need to back up and transfer data between machines? The PC 800 comes with two external USB ports, so you can do just that.
The PC 800 is suitable for:
- Users of Standard Industrial press brakes
- Users wanting to automate programs with digital photos
- Programmers using either offline programming or manual programming at the press brake itself.
CNC 150 Backgauge Controller
The CNC backgauge control is as simple to use as they come and offers a low-cost way to improve your press brake productivity. Here’s how.
The CNC 150 offers 150 job memory storage for up to 20 bends per job. This backgauge system controls the backgauge configurations, allowing the operator to form the entire workpiece in one handling with the ability to control the ramp depth, gauge bar height, and backgauge of each bend.
For accurate programming, The CNC offers incremental corrections, meaning you can correct dimensions by adding or subtracting incrementally from the existing dimensions. When it comes to bend allowance and rem depths, all backgauge dimensions are easily offset with one data entry up to ± .393.
You can program the ram depth mode in inches or millimeters from the flat metal calibration point. On the majority of press brakes, you can vary the top of the stroke from bend to bend and program a ram slow-down point.
If you want to customize the backgauge retract and delay time, you can do so by programming the backgauge to retract away from the die at a specific time and distance. This retraction allows the operator to reposition the workpiece as necessary during the pause.
On 2-axis hydraulic brakes, you can program the backgauge to retract once the workpiece is pinched—this clears reverse bends. You can program the time and distance of the retraction separately for each bend.
The CNC 150 allows for self-diagnostics, so you’ll get error codes for programming mistakes or system malfunctions, all displayed on an easy-to-read LED control panel.
The CNC 150 is suitable for:
- Users of most major hydraulic press brakes and backguages
- Users looking for a low-cost solution
- Users looking for an easy-to-use, simple backgauge controller.
CNC 300 Backgauge Controller
The CNC 300 can be programmed much the same as the CNC 150 or used for an array of more complex functions.
The angle mode allows the operator to program the angle directly in degrees. Program your measured angle, and the CNC 300 will automatically adjust to the accurate programmed angle.
Plus, the CNC 300 will calibrate at the top of stroke, meaning the ram can recalibrate itself.
The innovative ‘teach mode’ allows you to program the correct bending angle easily. Simply position the press brake ram at the correct bending angle for each step of the program, and press ONE when it’s positioned correctly to program that position.
As with the CNC 150, the backgauge can be programmed to retract from the die for a specific time frame to allow the operator to reposition the workpiece as needed.
The CNC 300 is suitable for:
- Users of most major hydraulic press brakes and backguages
- Users searching for a perfect balance between high quality and affordability
- Users seeking more complex features, such as ram angle mode with angle correction, automatic ram referencing, backgauge reversal on pinch point, backgauge retract and delay, top of stroke reference, and a parts counter.
CNC 600 Backgauge Controller
The CNC 600 control offers many of the features our customers have been asking for for years. The press brake and backgauge programming are similar to the CNC 150 and CNC 300, but the 600 boasts an entirely new (and easier-to-use) touchscreen interface.
The CNC 600 can be used for 1, 2, or 3-axis Automec backgauge systems or for upgrading existing Automec backgauge systems. Users will be able to import photos for a visual representation of each bend in a job sequence.
This controller is suitable for:
- Users of most major hydraulic press brakes and backgauges
- Users wanting a newer user interface with improved graphics and touchscreen functionality
- Users wanting to upgrade existing Automec backgauges to the latest functionality
- Users seeking a high-quality, top-of-the-range backgauge controller with a wealth of features.
Fasfold press brake controller
This Automec press brake controller introduces Quickdraw and 3D simulation as a feature, and its simple design means you can retrofit almost any press brake with the Fasfold to update it to the latest features. This press brake controller is suitable for most popular Amada models, RG, FBD, Fine Bender, NT, and HFE.
Features include widescreen multi-touch format, Windows 10 platform compatibility, and online and offline press brake programming—you can download or send jobs via USB or wireless network.
The Fasfold press brake controller is suitable for:
- Users of most major press brakes and backguages including Amada, RG, FBD, Fine Bender, NT, and HFE press brakes
- Users requiring real-time 2D & 3D bend simulation
- Users looking to retrofit Amada press brakes, including 7-axis with crowning.
I run a large press brake business and require the maximum number of bends per job. Which backgauge system do I need?
If you’re running a large press brake system and need maximum efficiency from your backgauge controller, you might want to consider the CNC 600 or PC 800. With virtually unlimited memory and infinite bends per job, you can store data from previous bends in case it’s needed in the future, and you’ll be able to program more bends in each job.
Do Automec’s backgauge systems come with warranties?
Yes, Automec’s backgauge controllers come with warranties. Most of the products come with a one-year warranty.
The bottom line
Effective programming on your press brake’s backgauge is non-negotiable if you want to run your brakes as efficiently as possible. If you’re in the market for easy-to-use backgauge systems that ensure productivity, we’ve got you covered.
At Automec, our range of backgauge systems covers multiple price points and features, so whatever your budget, there’s a system to suit you.
A Summary of Automec Backgauge CNC Controllers
The CNC 150 supports up to 3 axes of control and is ideal for low-cost solutions. The CNC 300 combines value for money with complex features for those looking for improved functionality without breaking the bank.
The CNC 600 is our new and improved CNC offering many features press brake operators have requested for years. The CNC 600 has press brake and backgauge functionality similar to our other models but with a new, more user-friendly interface.
The PC 800 is a graphical control for Automec’s family of CNC backgauges that uses digital photos and 2-D graphics to make your press brake forming easier. The PC 800 allows you to photograph your press brake tooling and bend sequences and integrate them into your bending program. Multiple press brakes can share information with a simple windows network that you can set up yourself. It is available as a one, two, or three axis control and can be connected to all Automec 24″ and 48″ backgauges.