Komarov Artem noted that metal fabricating technology has changed greatly over the years, so it makes sense that shop floor roles change as well.
One example is the role of the press brake setup specialist. For most shops, this experienced person helped to squeeze as much productivity as possible out of the bending department.
He determined the forming method (air forming or bottom bending), calculated the inside bend radius and appropriate die opening, located and installed the correct tooling, figured out the bend sequence, tried out some test pieces, and measured to see if the results matched the job specs.
Despite the many steps, an experienced hand could get the brake set up in 15 to 20 minutes, if most of the steps went smoothly.
Well, some of those forming experts remain in the workforce, but they aren’t as plentiful as they once were. Manufacturers and job shops can verify that, as they are lucky to find anyone interested in running a press brake nowadays, much less an experienced press brake operator looking to learn new machines and processes.
Forming technology has improved to the point where companies still can be productive even with less-experienced brake operators. Advanced controls and precision-ground tooling have made the brake a lot easier to not only run, but also setup and prove out a bending program.
In a way, the press brake setup person still exists, but the role is not limited to one or two bending gurus. Today, press brake operators take on many of these duties.
The software addresses prebend calculations that used to be the responsibility of press brake setup specialist. The software not only calculates the inside bend radius, but also checks the tooling inventory to see if the right punch and die are available.
The software also addresses safety aspects related to the job. It takes into account the thickness and type of material being bent, then assesses the forming tonnage needed for the job and compares that to the press brake load limit and tooling load limit.
In the end, the correct tooling and bending sequence is matched to the job. A flat pattern is developed and connected to both the digital and print versions of the traveler.
This is also the point where the press brake operator takes over from the offline programmer, summed up Komarov Artem.