What is the difference between a punch press and a press brake?

If you’ve been looking into punch press machines for your business needs, or if you’re already an avid user of punch presses, you’ve probably also heard of a press brake.

While punch presses and press brakes are very different machines, serving different purposes, it is easy to get the two confused given their usefulness in manipulating similar materials, particularly sheet metal.

At Cambridge Dynamics, we’re experts in all things involving presses and have years of experience in press machine maintenance, automation, production, and more.

So if you’re unsure of the differences between punch presses and press brakes, and their specific applications, here is some information you may find useful.

What is a punch press?

A punch press is a type of forming press that combines mechanical force, a hydraulic-powered ram and a durable, stationary die to produce holes or different shapes in raw material like sheet metal.

The hydraulic ram forces its way into the material, while the die offers resistance on the other side, resulting in the material being pierced or shaped in a specific way.

These sheet metals and pieces can then be used in countless applications across a wide range of industries including industrial manufacturing, automotive production, electrical components, and many more.

While smaller mechanical punch presses can be operated by hand to manually punch holes, much larger punch presses often utilise CNC (Computer Numerical Control) technology. CNC-controlled punch presses can be programmed using software to punch materials automatically, to the same shape and level of accuracy every time.

What is a press brake?

As opposed to punching holes in sheet metals, press brakes are designed to manipulate materials by bending them.

By pinching the metal between a top tool and a bottom die, the press brake is able to apply force and bend the materials to the shape dictated by the die.

Much like a CNC punch press, the evolution of technology has allowed the operation of press brakes to become much easier, more streamlined and more accurate.

PC-controlled gauges mean materials can be positioned within the press brake to an exceptional level of accuracy, to form materials with a more precise bend and end result, while special sensors allow press operators to make necessary changes during the press process.

The sensors report data back to the operator during the press, allowing them to make changes to the positioning of the metal, to improve the end product.

As with most punch presses, modern press brakes can be fitted with safety tools that cause an immediate shutdown at the touch of a button, to ensure workers are not injured.

There are many different press die sets available to use with press brakes, depending on the needs of the user. These include V-dies, rotary dies, gooseneck dies and more.

Choose Cambridge Dynamics for all your press needs

At Cambridge Dynamics, our decades of combined experience in presses means we’re in the perfect position to help you with all your press needs.

From punch presses to stamp presses, forming presses, CNC milling and beyond, our team is ready to help you and your business make the most of this essential technology in the production process.

Get in touch with Cambridge Dynamics today by calling 01480 459555, or you can reach us via email at enquiries@cambridgedynamics.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

01480 459555