Looking back at the history of Press Brakes

The press brake has been around for probably longer than you would have imagined but it has  obviously changed a lot.  The first one as we know it was the Cornice brake patented in 1882.  It forced a piece of sheet metal to be bent in a straight line with a manually operated leaf.

We would like to share some more information about these press brakes and how they got to the Electric Press Brakes that are used now.

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So why is it called a press brake?

Is it because it is basically a press with a brake on it like in a car how the brake system works.  But the word brake had been used before the mechanical side of things came into place.  In fact when you really think about it nothing is being broken either and you could even say its being fixed.

Before machines came along, if someone wanted to bend sheet metal they would need to attach a piece of sheet metal to a mold or a 3D scale model of the desired sheet metal shape.  These were like dolly ; anvil; or even a forming bag, which would off traditionally be filled with sand or lead shot.

Skilled tradespeople Using a T-stake, ball peen hammer, a lead strap called a slapper, and tools called spoons,  pounded the sheet metal into the desired shape.  Still performed today it is a very manual operation in many auto body repair and art fabrication shops.

The first powered press brakes appeared about 100 years ago in the early 1920’s with flywheel driven machines.  These were followed by versions in the 1970’s and the 2000’s.  This then led to the Electric Press Brakes that we have today found at sites like https://www.cotswold-machinery-sales.co.uk/euromac/electric-press-brakes/

So in its simplest form, a “pressing machine” and a “press brake” are one in the same. The definition of brake was “an instrument for crushing or pounding.” Ultimately the term “brake” became synonymous with “machine,” derived over time from machines used to crush grain and plant fibers.

The term “brake” was mainly used to crash grain and plant fibres.

Where does the word “press” come from though?   In 1300 the word presse was described as to crush or to crowd but by the late 14th century the press machine was for clothes and pressing juice and olives.     From this a mechanism that provides force by squeezing would be called a press machine.   The punches and dies in a fabricators world can be called presses that exert force on the sheet metal.

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