The Basic Guide to Panel Bender (You Should Know)

Panel bender history

In Europe and the United States, companies often account for a higher proportion of human resources costs, especially in northern Europe, the vast majority of companies are eager to address the high cost of human troubles.

Therefore, European and American enterprises have long put “improving production efficiency and reducing manpower” on the agenda and launched a series of automatic and intelligent initiatives.

More companies are beginning to consider purchasing smarter equipment and even embracing automated, unmanned production lines.

It has been 40 years since Savagnini introduced the world’s first P4 panel bender in 1977.

The Salvagnini P4 panel bender’s revolutionary, universal bending tools and robots introduced flexible, automated sheet metal forming technology to the industry in the late 1970s.

salvagnini panel bender

P1 Lean panel benders

The P1 Lean panel bender (Fig. 1) is the smallest model in the family of Savagnini Panel Benders, with a large forming length 1250mm, full servo drive, fast speed, average power consumption is only 3 kWh per hour.

The small size of the machine allows the production of small parts, which is very cost-effective.

P1 Lean panel benders

P2L-21 compact panel bender

The P2L-21 Compact panel bender (Fig.2) is the main machine used in the commercial kitchen industry, with a forming length of 2180 mm.

The new generation P2L adopts servo motor direct drive, which can meet most of the processing requirements of panel products, covering an area of 6m×3m.

The cylinder hybrid drive ensures the long-term stability of the equipment and reduces the maintenance workload, with average power consumption as low as 5 kWh per hour.

P4-2116 HPT standard panel bender

The P4-2116 HPT is a standard panel bender with semi-automatic loading and unloading (Figure 3), which can be used during machine production.

The loading and unloading operations can be carried out without interrupting production, resulting in a significant increase in machine availability.

As a standard panel bender, the P4 can be loaded with additional options to expand production capacity, making it the ideal machine for several major refrigerator manufacturers.

P4-2116 HPT standard panel bender P4-2116 HPT standard panel bender

S4+P4 flexible manufacturing system

S4+P4 FMS can accommodate the production of more variety and smaller quantities of products that are not yet available.

What is a panel bender?

Previously, panel forming was done on dedicated production lines or manually operated pressure-bending machines.

Panel bender has natural advantages over press brake machines for panel processing – labor saving and speed; good repeatability and consistency of the workpiece.

What is a panel bender

With the arrival of the Savagnini panel bender, sheet metal forming has entered the era of complete automation for the first time.

There are three main types of conventional sheet metal bending and forming:

However, although the level of automation is increasing, it has never been able to change the efficiency bottleneck.

In a panel bender, there is no need to change the die, the working stroke is short, the feed is fast, and only one operator needs to “put in” and “take out” the sheet.

A single machine can smoothly complete the positioning of the sheet in a single pass for four-sided bending… order, efficiency and intelligence can be so simple.

The combined efficiency of the panel bender is 3 to 4 times that of a manually operated bending machine.

Press Brake & Panel Bender Efficiency Comparison

Panel bender for all user bending needs, lean, fast and energy efficient.

The highly intelligent operating control system allows for the efficient bending of different workpieces.

It can be said that the panel bender is a revolution to the traditional press bending machine.

However, due to the high one-time investment cost, it has not been accepted by the majority of sheet metal processing users so far.

Working principle of panel bender

Panel bender has a new design concept, i.e. downward bending with the upper knife and upward bending with the lower knife, the number of bending times is not limited.

Bending forces are distributed transversely and are generated by oscillating components (bending knives).

The binding reaction force is generated by two components that are strongly locked to the sheet.

Downward bending (negative bending)

negative bending

Upward bending (positive bending)

Upward bending

The bending length can be adjusted automatically, making it easy to realize unmanned production, which is shown schematically in Figure 8.

Panel bending diagram

Panel benders structure

Panel bender’s structure

1. Universal tooling and bending knife

The panel bender uses a universal, adjustable universal tooling with upper and lower bending knives.

There is no need to prepare a large number of bending toolings according to the shape and size of the workpiece, which greatly reduces the cost of molds and tools, the manufacturing time of molds and tools, and the preparation time of the upper and lower molds and tools.

Besides, it also reduces the stock of molds and tools, which facilitates production management.

In addition, since it is not necessary to design and manufacture special molds and tools for each product, it greatly reduces the development cycle of new products and improves the competitiveness of enterprises in today’s increasingly competitive market.

2. Fast and efficient automatic mold adjustment systems

When folding box-shaped parts, you need to adjust the length of the mold according to the length of the inner edge of the workpiece, there are three methods of adjustment.

  • The first one is the manual adjustment and takes 3 min.
  • The second type is semi-auto-adjustment and takes 90s.
  • The third type is Automatic Adjustment (ALA), which coincides with the other work steps, so no adjustment time is required.

3. A simple and logical method of 1-time positioning

Before bending, the positioning is carried out by the two cutting corners of the sheet instead of the edges of the sheet, which completely avoids the positioning error caused by the shearing of the sheet and also improves the positioning accuracy.

The sheet only needs to be positioned once in the process of panel bending, avoiding the cumulative error caused by the repeated positioning of the sheet.

This greatly improves the final accuracy of the finished product.

4. High precision and multifunctional robots

The manipulator can move the sheet forward and backward, as well as make discontinuous rotations of 90°, 180° or 270° during multilateral bending.

When the user needs a special angle of rotation, it can also be equipped with a CNC rotary device.

As shown in Figure 3, the panel bender clamps the workpiece with a rotating manipulator, which then clamps the workpiece to the upper and lower presses of the sheet.

Between the upper and lower bending knives, the upper and lower bending knives act on the part of the sheet to be bent, making the necessary movements to obtain the bend angle and radius of the arc required by the program.

When one side is bent, the robot automatically rotates the sheet 180° so that the opposite side is bent, followed by the other two sides.

When all four sides of the sheet have been bent, the manipulator exits. The panel is released and can be removed by the operator.

If equipped with automatic loading and unloading system, the panel bending machine can also automatically bend the sheet placed in the designated location which is after punching and shearing.

After the bending is completed, the workpieces will be automatically taken down and stacked neatly, which can realize the automation of the bending process, reduce the labor intensity of the workers, and also avoid the quality accidents that occur due to the workers.

The accuracy of the bending parts largely depends on the movement of the manipulator.

Therefore, the manipulator of the panel bender has a high degree of positioning accuracy to ensure the accuracy of the bending parts.

5. Advanced CNC system

Panel bender’s CNC systems are based on Windows NT, with a friendly interface and intuitive, easy-to-use human-machine dialogue.

There are powerful simulation, intervention and documentation functions; self-diagnosis and remote service functions.

In addition to providing part codes for faults, they can also be displayed graphically.

The remote service function allows software engineers to access the customer’s control system remotely, and intervene and diagnose or modify programs.

In most cases, the system is returned to normal operation, eliminating the need for a repair service visit: or, until a service technician arrives, basic normal operation can be maintained.

6. Variety of configurations

To meet the requirements of different users and different products, panel benders are available in a variety of models and configurations.

For example:

a) can be manually loaded or unloaded.

b) Equipped with an automatic loading and unloading system, unmanned operation production can be realized.

c) can be connected with the punching and shearing system, to become a punching, shearing, and folding integration of FMS(flexible manufacturing system).

7. Advantages of the panel bender


(1) There is no need to change molds, upper and lower tools, so it saves running costs, manufacturing costs and management costs, and greatly improves production efficiency.

(2) Due to the advanced design structure and dynamic compensation of the bending knife, it has very good bending accuracy.

Its angular accuracy is ±0.5°, and the parallelism of the two opposite sides after bending is ±0.1mm/m.

(3) Since its bending mechanism is different from other similar machines, it can perform bending processes that other bending centers cannot do.

Therefore, it can make the product structure greatly simplified and more rational.

For example:

a box-shaped part originally required 8 plates in the bending after welding, but with P4 panel bender it can be made from 1 plate, so the weight of parts is greatly reduced and the processing time is greatly reduced.

At the same time, it also reduces product design time, reduces product design costs and manufacturing costs, and improves product market competitiveness.

(4) It has the function of bending from the bottom to the top, so it can avoid the indentation phenomenon that occurs when bending some workpieces with very high surface requirements (such as mirror stainless steel) and long lengths, and when the two ends are machined, which greatly improves the appearance of the bent workpiece.

(5) In the machining process, the sheet feed and rotation are continuous and automatic, so its machining time is much shorter than other bending centers, especially the folding box-shaped parts are more obvious, but also greatly improved efficiency.

(6) It has a strong software function for the automatic adjustment of the sheet compactor and the automatic generation of the bending program, thus reducing the preparation time considerably.

(7) It is extremely advantageous not only for small batch production of many varieties but also for mass production of a single piece and is suitable for production applications in sheet metal processing enterprises.


From what I understand, the biggest and only downside of this sheet metal panel bending machine is that it is expensive.

The one-time investment is too large for the business.

Pander bender features

Panel benders are characterized by the following:

(1) For companies whose parts require foam processing (such as refrigerators, rice steamers, etc.), the consistency of the parts provided eliminates the need to clean up leaks, resulting in significant improvements in processing efficiency and product quality.

(2) By using the corner-cut positioning method, it is possible to always maintain the exact size of the exterior reference surface and ensure a high degree of consistency of the exterior part.

High accuracy can be maintained even if the sheet edge straightness is deviated after unloading.

For workpieces with limited working envelopes that need to be re-folded with a conventional bending machine, the size of the workpieces remains under control due to the exact outside dimensions.

Comparison of positioning methods

Fig.10 Comparison of positioning methods

(3) For thin stainless steel plates (thickness of 0.8mm or less), in manual bending, the operator’s pursuit of efficiency and operation synchronization is difficult to be consistent and offset bending is inevitable.

The panel bender does not need to lift the plate in the process of bending large panels, which avoids the offset bending caused by the plate not being lifted in place.

Its surface quality, and production efficiency than the press brake machine greatly improved, with an average increase of more than 40%.

(4) Highly flexible processing allows for small batch and multi-mix production.

The unique ABA technology of the panel bender allows for quick press length adjustment, even during robot edge changes.

This means that it only takes an extra 2 to 3 seconds to complete the process of folding the long edge first and then the short edge (short wrap long).

It is also possible to process products that require frequent adjustment of the length of the press.

(5) Meet most of the processes that can’t be completed by the press brake machine, to develop new products to provide advanced technology means.

It provides an advanced technological means to develop new products.

Compared to conventional bending machines, its processing capacity is relatively powerful.

Here is an example:

Figure 11 shows the contoured shape of a refrigerator door handle developed for the customer.

Two different shapes were designed for the customer to select and evaluate.

Originally, the customer was producing a similar product in an assembly line with five press brake machines, with no quality control.

By using P4 panel bender, the quality of the product was controlled and the processing time was reduced to one minute.

Refrigerator door handle contouring

Figure 11 Refrigerator door handle contouring

(6) Targeted professional configuration.

The panel bender has a wide range of bending tools for customers to choose from, and it is recommended that customers use the thin red circle type bending tool for the thin plate in general.

Bending tool selection

Figure 12 Bending tool selection

(7) For industries that heavily utilize “201” chrome manganese series stainless steel, the material is characterized by high hardness and bending rebound.

Panel benders with new material property compensation technology as standard, have significantly improved product processability and first-piece success rates.

(8) Panel benders are available in various configurations according to customer requirements and investment size.

Panel bender applications

The panel bender is suitable for the production of professional kitchenware for the catering and food industry, ovens, cooking systems, cleaning systems (dishwashers, glassware washers, etc.), refrigerators, instant freezers, refrigerator counters and freezers, stainless steel furniture, air handling systems (extractor hoods, exhaust fans, etc.).

It is also suitable for the bending of electrical industry cabinets, elevators and lifts.

Panel bender applications

Examples of products processed by panel bender

Examples of products processed by panel bender

Examples of products processed by panel bender

Examples of products processed by panel bender

Examples of products processed by panel bender

Panel bender bending tool features

The standard tooling width for the panel bender is 160 mm, and the minimum cross-section in the overall dimensions is 131 cm2.

This size is one of the best in the field of panel bending.

The machine is integrated with an independent locking system, which ensures flexibility during the bending process.

The structure, number and handling of the bending tools in the panel bender allow the machine to bend even extremely sensitive material surfaces without scratches or indentations.

In addition, the bending process also ensures low wear of the bending tools.

Panel bender bending tool features

Panel bender moves in a vertical manner over a metal panel during the bending process.

In addition, there are commercially available panel benders that move in a rotational manner.

During the bending process, 80 tons of pressure is applied to the panel bender in order to ensure the flatness of the metal sheet and avoid bending indentations.

panel bender vertical bending

The bending system of the panel bender allows for front, reverse, wide, curved and right angle bending of the panel during the bending process!

As shown in the figure below.

front, reverse, wide, curved and right angle bending of the panel front, reverse, wide, curved and right angle bending of the panel

Bending radius range


It is made out of only one piece.

It foresees the execution of 8 sides and the overturning of the panel during the cycle.

This last operation can be performed only by a semiautomatic machine.

For its production one needs to use the PSA with a toolset and two SA blades.



This panel has radius bends of different dimensions completed with an edge without containments.

Even if the surface has an orange peel effect(therefore it’s very fragile) and its production is made without the usage of a protective film, on the panel, there isn’t the smallest mark.

It has a length of 3000mm.



This panel has been made to shows the ability to execute pieces with more than one negative bend as well as the ability to perform bends which are really closed between themselves and with opposite radii bends.

The curl shows the capability to work in a very particular manner.

For its realization, it is necessary the usage of a table with brushes.



The new frontier to realize working tables, in particular for the catering field. They are characterized by the absence of corners and weldings.

This panel also shows the capacity to realize radius corners, both positive and negative, without the necessity of containment.

They can be made for a length of up to 3000mm and rises up to 200mm.

For its realization, it is necessary the PSA option with the aid of the video camera and one SA blade.



The drawn hole has been made before the bending process and it shows the critical situation of handling.

In fact, the panel should be handled with the drawing upward, while the bends must be executed downward.

At the end of the execution, the panel will have four sides with downward bends.



The characteristic manipulator composed by the vacuum cups permits the handling of panel with bends or central drawings.

The production of this panel foresees its overturning between the first and the third side, an operation that can be done only by a semiautomatic machine.



The panel is produced with a particular fixed end.

This solution allows the elimination of the majority of the welds, reducing in a drastic way the production scrap.

Furthermore, the welding of the vertical corners doesn’t need any more masking.



The shown bend has been executed for last by using the PSA with two functions able to make the negative radius bend.



The realization of large radius bends for this panel is definitely not a problem and special tools are not necessary.

Everything is produced with standard tools.

The radius corner, even if it’s 7mm high, can be executed without the necessity of containment and the result is without any deformation.



This particular has been executed using the vertical movement of the manipulator to control the downward encumbrance for the last shown bend.

For the production of this panel, it has been necessary to mount on the panel-bender the PSA and the sheet clamps.



Interesting examples which show the ability to produce negative hidden bends.

For their execution the PSA is necessary.



With the option “cutting unit” it is possible to create very small shapes, bent only on two sides and then cut from an appropriate blade.

Once the shape is cut it is expelled inside a bin situated on the machine side.

The “cutting unit” is an option of the PSA.



The characteristic of this panel regards the lower central part.

In fact, its handling can’t be done by using the sheet clamps.


Panel bender video control system

Panel bender video control system

The operator can visualize what is happening to the metal sheet during the bending stage with the video camera aid and he can actively intervene by modifying the bends that the machine is performing.

This solution is really important to execute panels for the first time or for the execution of bends on panels coming from different batches.

Once the desired result is reached, the operator can save the applied process so that it can be executed on the next panels to bend.

This doesn’t happen because the usage of sophisticated algorithms is useful only if there is a perfect knowledge of the material (type, thickness, length), but from the simple movement of a joystick.

The aid of the video camera gives the possibility to control the different elastic returns and so to obtain the “first good piece”.

Panel Bender vs. Press Brake

Simplification of bending processes

In the press brakes, the handling of a panel often needs more than one person.

It becomes difficult for one person the handling of a particular longer than 1500 mm.

In fact the particular moves during the bending process.

In the panel-bender, the handling of the panel concerns only on its loading on the working table, its rotation on the sides to bend and the unloading of the final product.

The operator has only to load the metal sheet to bend and he has to unload the final product.

In the case of an advanced panel bender, the operator unloads only the final product.

Furthermore, the traditional bending systems need that the operator should memorize the bend’s sequences to execute.

In the semi-automatic panel-bender, the operator has only to turn the panel in the position that the machine requires.

traditional bending systems

Handling of a panel with the pess-brakes

Overturning of the panel on the ball table of a panel-bender

Overturning of the panel on the ball table of a panel-bender

Reduction of labor costs

The press brakes need some skilled laborers with specific experience and the ability to follow and control the bending stages.

The panel-bender can be used by only one person without any specific skills: the machine automatically executes all the bending stages.

This can bring reduced personnel costs(hiring not qualified personnel) and to higher productive flexibility(usage of the machine from more than one person)

Reduction of labor costs

Where is the market for the panel bender?

Panel bender is a machine for automated production, and until October 2008, not many people in the world knew about the existence of semi-automated panel benders.

Only two companies were presenting their semi-automatic panel bending machines for the first time at EuroBLECH.

According to market research, there are potential but unmet needs in the field of sheet metal bending.

The demand indicates that for many years the bending process has been performed manually by press brakes.

Why is this a potential need?

This is because no one knows of any alternative solution for bending other than the press brake machine.

Until now (automation of the press brake), this attempt has not led to any meaningful results.

Panel benders are suitable for the following product areas

1. For the stainless steel industry

The company manufactures or supplies the following types of products: ovens, cooking systems (stoves, grills, etc.), cleaning systems (dishwashers, cup washers, etc.), refrigerators, flash freezers, stainless steel furniture, air handling systems, electrical equipment and accessories, elevators…

2. For other metal sheets

The company manufactures and supplies the following types of products: elevators, freight elevator products, painted cabinets, security doors, engineered doors (fireproof partitions, etc.), inside or outside covers…

Who needs the panel bender?

  • Enterprises mainly engaged in the production of stainless steel products.
  • Product quality-oriented enterprises
  • The products are small-batch or custom-made.
  • Companies whose products are concentrated in the production and processing of press brake
  • Enterprises whose products have complex processing processes

Panel bender price

As we all know, the price is naturally different depending on the mechanism of the product or the manufacturing process.

The sale of a panel bender is not only based on the price factor.

The sale is not only based on the offer of a product, but also on the need to provide a concrete and viable solution.

The solution should include a comparison of the benefits of using a panel bender with other bending machines of the same type, a comprehensive comparison and analysis of productivity, processing time, and the number of personnel.

In addition, if you want a more efficient way to bend your products, the panel bender’s technology can help you do it.

It can realize the bending processes that are not possible with other press brake machines.

It is pointless to compare different products on the basis of price alone. If the comparison is purely on price, then the negotiation is only or always fails.

Top 5 Panel bender manufacturers

Currently, the most famous panel benders include the following 5 brands:

  • Salvagnini
  • Prima-power
  • RAS
  • Trumpf
  • Amada

Final Thoughts

Panel bender is indeed an extremely advanced and modern bending machine, which completely separates the quality of the product from the skill level of the workers and ensures the production of high-quality products.

At the same time, the panel bender greatly reduces the labor intensity of the workers.

In addition, it gives the sub-engineers many new ideas on the design and has great advantages for the development of new products, so that the enterprise has a head start in the ever-changing product market.

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