Overcoming the challenges of XXL bending

The advent of new high-strength materials with tensile strengths up to 1,300 MPa and higher, small batch production, tight tolerances and falling skill levels in the workshop have added to the challenges of XXL bending.

But imagine if there was a solution that overcomes these challenges……

Synchro-Form: a unique solution to XXL bending with productivity gains of 50% or more.

The Synchro-Form press brake is next-generation adaptive bending technology that is changing XXL bending.

Synchro-Form makes it possible to bend large profiles with consistent accuracy, at high throughput and with minimal operator intervention. By using an in-process quality control system to measure the accumulated angle and compensate for angle deviation in the bends that follow, this advanced technology can improve productivity of large profile bending 50% or more, depending on the specific profile.

Synchro-Form eliminates:

  • Manual measurements and determining bend lines
  • Concern for material variations / springback
  • Progressive bending to avoid accumulated error
  • Multiple tooling setups and the need for costly CNC V-dies

Synchro-Form reduces the direct part cost by reducing manual operations, increases throughput by automating the bending process and ensuring part accuracy, and makes for a safer production environment.

Today we will introduce you to large profile bending. It's a really exciting world and we will give you more details and show more possibilities of what we can do today with large profiles. But let's have a look at how large profiles are bent today. Large profiles need skilled operators. That's the main thing.

You need skilled operators to bend large profiles. These skilled operators have to make calculations because they need the correct bending lines. Large profiles are not programmed by offline software. The large profiles are bent by experienced people. They indicate all the bending lines with tape and chalk. 

Large profiles require handling equipment to bring in the material, but specifically to hold the material. Imagine you’re making a radius. You have to keep your material in position so you need the correct tooling. You need the correct front supports. You need the right equipment to keep the material in position. 

Installing a big press brake with the correct tools takes time. Imagine that you have an eight- or ten-metre-long press brake, and you need to change punch and die. This will easily take up to half an hour. All the big parts of the tooling must be handled manually, and this is a labour-intensive, time-consuming part of the installation. 

And then you start bending. Imagine that you need to make a big radius. You do this incrementally, meaning you must avoid error accumulation. So what people do is start to bend the profile. They carry out several steps and then they start measuring to see if they have the correct radius and correct angle. So they need time to stop, check and make corrections. And then if corrections are necessary, they have to reposition the material. And repositioning an 8-metre-long part really takes time and it is extremely difficult to find the exact same position. 

So we can conclude that handling, positioning and forming large parts, especially with multiple bands, is really time-consuming and labour intensive. And of course, it often involves trial and error because of error accumulation and compensation. 

Our customers today have a lot of special demands for profile bending, for large profile bending. And when we look in more detail, we see they always have special materials to bend. They are looking for automation. They want to have a perfect material flow and they want to know exactly where the material is. 

They also want to collect data, this is extremely important. So if we look at materials, what do we see? They all have the same issue. Low component weights with maximum strength so nowadays they use high tensile strength. And those who need tensile strength today turn to suppliers like SSAB with Strenx, or First Opinion with alform, or NLMK with Quent. 

Anyway, they use materials with 1100, 1300, 1500 megapascal. This is what we see today in high tensile steel. Automation is, of course, extremely important for handling large parts. With automation you can reduce cycle times and increase profitability. So everyone who's looking to bend large profiles is looking for automation or semi-automation. 

Customers are not asking for a solution for a standalone press brake. They want a solution where the press brake is integrated into a complete line. So let's take a closer look at a complete line. What does it mean? First of all, we start from a storage system where we collect all our materials.

And then we go to a station, for example, where we need to do some drilling, maybe some bevelling, and then we move on to the bending machine. When the part is bent, we can check everything at a station and then it’s on to the automatic welding unit. This is a complete flow of material.

This is where customers are looking for automation. And all of this, of course, with robots. Robots on a track, on a trail or on a gantry system, but everything needs to be automated. So this is, of course, what customers are looking for with regard to large parts. The material flow is exactly what customers are looking for.

They want to know where the part is. They want transparent work orders. Where is my part on the shop floor? So software and offline software allow you to see whether it’s on the laser or on the press brake. How many parts have been made? All of this is available in the CADMAN-JOB software. 

So let's have a closer look at what CADMAN-JOB can bring if you have, for example, an iPad or you have the possibility of checking on the production floor. Your fabrication workshop is a fast-paced environment that has to deal with short lead times, tight margins, increasing part complexity and smaller batches.

As a result, daily operations become really complex and this is where mistakes can happen, leading to wasted materials and lost labour. Why not go with Touch I4? Touch I4 is a sturdy wireless tablet that helps to sort and validate parts, plan future workloads and analyse workshop performance. With just a few clicks, operators can see job and nesting details, turning sorting parts into a straightforward task. 

And thanks to immediate validation, streamlining production orders becomes easier as well. Touch I4 collects real time info from your LVD machines, showing you performance at a glance and enabling you to plan future workloads right on the shop floor. Touch I4 places your fabrication workshop at your fingertips, enabling users to make informed decisions, optimising operations and saving time and money. Contact us today and find out how Touch I4 can benefit your workshop.

The last point is data collection. Measuring is knowing. The more measurements we can carry out, the more this benefits production, analysis and quality. First of all, we want to know exactly what is going on with the machine. Is there an error? Do we need to do a setup?

Is the machine executing? So these are all measurements that we can put into graphics and enter into our system. Once we have all these measurements, we have the KPI. We have the availability, the form and the quality. So performance measurement helps us understand how our sheet metal division is performing. 

And besides this, every measurement helps us improve quality, accuracy and performance. We have access to all the data from every axis on the machine. Having all these measurements enables us to improve both quality and accuracy. And then it’s time for Synchro-Form.

What is Synchro-Form exactly? Synchro-Form is a modern manufacturing technology. It's an adaptive bending technology that provides a correct angle in real time because we measure and correct in real time, giving us perfect accuracy. This is extremely important to produce an accurate part. The machine goed into automatic operation mode, a complete performance of functionality by Synchro-Form. 

So it's not the operator but the machine that handles and positions the material. Synchro-Form means modules. We have these modules in the front and at the back. With each module we have an X axis (in and out), an R axis (up and down), and a rotation head or A axis. We also use a magnet to hold and position the material, and the laser scanner measures angles. 

All these measurements go to our Touch B controller, where all this digital information is centred, and we make adjustments in terms of part position and angle accuracy. This we use to make complex parts such as a hexagon, simple parts like an L or U profile, but also very complex parts such as a completely round shape, all completely automated. 

These parts are the most common parts today in crane booms, yellow goods, construction, transport and agriculture machinery. This gives our customers a correct solution for bending extremely difficult parts. If you need a U profile with 20 bends and you want perfect accuracy, it's a complex part to bend. 

Synchro-Form gives you the correct solution for this kind of profile. How can we realise productivity gains? First of all, we can achieve this with our software. Remember that normally your skilled operator has to perform measurements and put all the bending lines on the part. Now the software takes care of this. 

The CADMAN-B, the bending software, allows you to make a correct bending sequence of parts with easily 40 bends. We start from a 2D or 3D drawing. You can start from your AutoCAD or SOLIDWORKS and import an ISIS file or an SAT file in our software. We start by selecting the tooling. 

We select the tooling, punch radius and V-die opening and we let the software calculate the correct unfolding. The software automatically calculates the bending sequences but in this case of Synchro-Form we have modules in the front. In this example we have three modules, nine axes. We have modules at the back, that’s another nine axes.

We have Y1, Y2 and we have a crowning table. So in total we have 21 axes that must be programmed automatically by the offline software. The simulation is carried out and on top of this our offline software gives us all the data for every axis that we have on the machine, so all the data in X and R for every module is automatically calculated by the software. 

In just two minutes our software calculates, as in this example, a part with 25 bands, giving us the correct data from every sequence to make this part perfect. Offline software helps to make offline software programming easy and reduces the quality and skill required from the operator because your offline software takes care of all this. 

Secondly, there’s the tooling. So normally in relation to radius, we put other tooling in our machine. With Synchro-Form we can use different radiuses with a single tooling setup. By selecting the steps, we can easily go with the same tool from a radius of 50, for example, to a radius of 120, because the part is made in different steps and by selecting the steps we can select the radius. 

Our Synchro-Form system eliminates manual operation because instead of the operator it’s the crane that positions the material. Now it's Synchro-Form that does all the work, the handling of the material. The process of trial and error that normally comes with large profile bending is eliminated.

The Synchro-Form always positions our part perfectly. Any angle corrections are carried out automatically because every module includes automatic laser sensing, meaning that corrections are made in real time, giving us a perfect measurement and angle accuracy. 

All of this ensures consistent accuracy and, of course, high productivity, high throughput. Synchro-Form offers up to 50 percent in productivity gains by capitalising on the full possibilities of the software.

Watch Synchro-Form handle a 25-bend profile.

See how 25 bends with precise radii and overall part dimensions are achieved automatically in a 3-metre-long profile in just 15 minutes – without operator intervention. Discover how easily Synchro-Form handles 25 bend sequences to create a full 360° circular component in 8 mm S355 steel plate.