Press brakes have a tendency to last a long time and resist depreciation. The press brake industry, however, continues to make improvements to the control systems technology. This presents a decision for shops between keeping old press brakes that are still functional or making an investment for the up-to-date press brakes. Training new operators on the older control systems may be difficult and waste time and resources. However, purchasing an entirely new press brake while you still have a functional one may also be wasteful.
An article in Fab Shop Magazine Direct describes a method to keep costs low but the technology modern. Retrofitting is the process of installing new controls and software to old press brakes. This is a cost-effective way to keep your machinery competitive. There are several companies that can help you with this process. Cybelec, a Swiss manufacturer of numerical controls, produces the ModEva RA, a flat-console touchscreen control unit, onto which Metamation installs its RA Software Interface. This retrofit offers many advantages including the abilities to:
- Run 2D and 3D CAD files that are unusable with the old press brake controls.
- Modify 2-axes backgauges to provide full 5-axes functions.
- Facilitate interactions between engineering and programming departments with an integrated computer network.
Depending on which type of machine you have, some machinery companies offer a retrofitting service. For an example of retrofitting, this Amada RG25 CNC press brake was retrofitted with an Amada NC9EX (3 Axis) control system.
Retrofitting an old press brake to install a more updated control system is an economically efficient solution to balancing cost and technology. This may be the best option for you to get a competitive edge in your shop without investing too much in an entirely new machine.