Press Brake Bending Basics (A Guide to Sheet Metal Bending)

In this post, we will discuss every detail about press brake bending basics, including the bending principle, springback analysis, most commonly used bending method, punch and die selection, bending force calculation etc.

The content below can also be used for press brake operator training.

Let’s dive in.

What is press brake bending?

Press brake bending refers to the elastic deformation of the metal sheet under the pressure of the upper die or lower die of the press brake machine, and then into plastic deformation.

At the beginning of plastic bending, the sheet is free to bend.

With the pressure of the upper die or the lower die on the plate, the plate is gradually close to the inner surface of the V-groove of the lower die.

At the same time, the radius of curvature and bending force arm also gradually decrease, and continue to press until the upper and lower dies have three points close to full contact at the end of the stroke.

At this time, a V-shape is completed, which is commonly known as bending.

Generally speaking, it is the processing technology of changing the plate or plate angle by putting pressure on the plate.

Sharp angle, hemming and offset staging

Working principle of the press brake

The upper and lower dies are fixed on the upper and lower worktables of the press brake machine respectively, and the relative movement of the worktable is driven by hydraulic transmission, combined with the shape of the upper and lower dies, so as to realize the bending forming of the plate.

Common bending methods

Free bending, three-point bending and correction bending, etc. The difference between the three methods can be seen in the diagram below.

Free bending, three-point bending and correction bending

Free bending

Free bending, also known as air bending, is simpler than other methods. The bending angle is controlled by the depth of the upper die into the V-groove of the lower die.

The accuracy of the bending parts is related to many factors such as Y1, Y2 and V-axis upper and lower molds and plates.

However, it is widely used because of its good universality and wide process range. It is used for structures with simple structure, large volume or not too large output.

Three-poing bending

Three-point bending, also known as die bending (bottoming).

The obtained bending angle is determined by the wedge height in the lower die.

The upper die only provides sufficient bending force and avoids the non-parallelism between the dies through the hydraulic pad on the ram.

This method can obtain high precision machined parts, that is, small angle error and straightness error.

It is used for structures with complex structures, small volume and mass processing.

Correction bending

Correction bending is formed in the cavity composed of upper and lower dies, and an ideal section shape can be obtained

The disadvantage is that a large bending force is required and the mold is repaired repeatedly, and the universality of the mold is not good.

This bending method is often used when there are special requirements or special section shapes that can not be achieved by free bending.

Z U V Bend

How to choose press brake bending axis

  • Y1 and Y2 axis: control the ram to run up and down
  • V axis: control the deflection compensation of the press brake
  • X, R, Z1, Z2 and X ‘axes: they are the control axis of the rear positioning system, which control the positioning position of the rear stop (see the definition of each axis in the figure)
  • T1 and T2 axes: servo follow-up material support (sheet follower). During bending, the processed plate follows the support and the sheet followers support the material.

Press Brake Axis Diagram

Among the above axis, Y1, Y2 and V are necessary for each press brake machine;

For each axis of rear stop and servo follow-up material support, users can select according to the needs of processed parts.

For the rear stop, it should be noted that the X ‘axis cannot be selected separately, and it must be used together with Z1 and Z2 axis to have practical significance.

V-axis is the deflection compensation axis. At present, there are two implementation methods:

One is position control, that is, according to the deflection deformation curve of the worktable during bending, an equal amount of reverse deformation is given at its corresponding points, which just makes up for the elastic deflection deformation of the machine during bending;

The other is pressure control, that is, adjusting the pressure of multiple deflection compensation cylinders according to the bending force, so as to generate a reaction force against the bending force at multiple points of the vertical plate of the workbench to prevent deflection deformation.

It can be seen that the first method is better and can obtain higher bending accuracy when it is consistent with the actual deflection deformation curve.

The first method has always been used in the 500T+ press brake machine.

See the following figure for the schematic diagram of the worktable convex principle:

press brake worktable convex principle

The accuracy of Y1, Y2 and V axes plays an important role in the angle and straightness of the bent parts. It should be noted that for thin plates (< 3mm), the quality of the plate itself, such as the size of thickness error, material uniformity and rolling texture direction, directly determines the accuracy of the bent parts!

Bending principle of sheet metal

Press Brake Bending Diagram

After v-shaped bending, compression deformation occurred on the inner surface of the bending part of the workpiece, and tensile deformation occurred on the outer surface.

The deformation of these compressions and stretches is greatest on the surface of the material.

With the deepening of the plate thickness, the deformation is gradually reduced.

It can also be said that there is a middle surface (neutral line) that is neither compressed nor stretched. Here we call it X—X line.

How to determine this neutral layer position?

— If the IR of the workpiece is 5X more than the thickness of the plate, then it’s position is in the center of the plate thickness.

— If the IR of the workpiece is 5X less than the thickness of the plate, the thickness of the bending position turns into t’, the position of the neutral layer is gradually shifted to the interior with the decrease of the IR of the workpiece.

— If the radius of the neutral layer is represented by P, then P and IR have the following relation:

  • R≥5t, P-IR=0.5t
  • R<5t, P-IR=(0.25-0.4)t

neutral layer position

interior radius of workpiece

The neutral layer has the characteristics of neither stretching nor compression, so the length of the neutral layer is used as the expansion length of the bending piece.

The springback reasons for sheet metal bending

The so-called bending is the deformation of tensile stress and compressive stress on the front and back of the same plate.

Once the plate is bent to the target angle, the material will bounce back to its original shape once the pressure is removed due to tensile stress and compressive stress.

We call this kind of bounce as bending spring back.

The amount of bending spring back is generally expressed in terms of angle. The bending angle will be affected by material, plate thickness, pressure, bending radius etc.

It is very difficult to calculate the bending spring back accurately.

The force pressed on the sheet metal during bending is different, and the counterforce is also different.

Once eliminate the pressing force, the angle will also bounce back in the downsizing direction. We call this “restore rebound”.

springback for sheet metal bending

1) When using the same punch with the same thickness of the material, the resilience value SPCC<AL < SUS

2) When using the same punch with the same material, the thinner plate has more resilience.

3) When using the same materials, the one with a bigger IR has more resilience.

4) The greater the pressing force, the less resilience.

Three most commonly used bending methods

The 3 most commonly used bending method

Bending Method V-width IR Angle Accuracy Features
Air Bending 12T—15T 2t~2.5t >±45’ Can achieve a wider range of bend angle.
Bottoming 6T—12T 1t~2t ±15’—30’ The higher bending precision is obtained with the smaller press force.
Coining 5T(4T—6T) 0t~0.5t ±10’ It can achieve high bending precision, but the bending force is very large.

Air bending

Air bending

Air bending means only part of the material is in contact with the toolings for bending.

From the above image, we can see that the toolings only touch A, B and C points of the metal during the bending process (the punch tip and the die shoulders). The rest position is not.

Because of the above reason, the actual angle of the toolings becomes unimportant.

The factor that determines the bending angle is how far the punch descends into the die.

The further the punch descends, the acuter the bend angle.

Therefore, the fabricator can get a wide range of bending angles with only one set of tooling since the depth of the stroke (not the tooling) determines the bend angle.

Besides, there will have a certain amount of spring back in air bending, so you need to bend a slightly more acute angle so as to get the desired bend angle.

Features of air bending:

  • Wide bending angle with one set of tooling. The angle can’t be smaller than the punch tip angle. If using a 30° punch, 180°-30° bending angle can be obtained.
  • The bending need less press force.
  • The bending angle is not in high accuracy.
  • The material has more spring back.

See also:


Bottom bending

Bottoming means the punch will descend to the bottom of the die so that the material makes contact with the punch tip and the sidewalls of the V-opening.

Bottoming is a method to obtain good bending precision with less pressure and is also a commonly used bending method.

V-opening width

The V-opening width of the die can refer to below table:

T 0.5-2.6 3-8 9-10 ≥12
V 6T 8T 10T 12T

IR of workpiece

The interior radius of the workpiece is usually represented by IR.

During the bottom bending process, the IR is about 1/6 of the die’s V-opening (IR=v/6).

However, for different materials, the IR is also different, like SUS and Al has different IR.

Tooling accuracy of bottom bending

The angle after bottom bending will be affected by the spring back, so the bending spring back will be considered when choosing bottom bending.

The usual solution to obtain the target angle is by overbending.

  • Material, shape and thickness with small spring back – 90° tooling
  • Material, shape and thickness with big spring back – 88° tooling
  • Material, shape and thickness with bigger spring back – 84° tooling

When adopting bottom bending, the principle of using the same angle for both punches and dies should be abided by.


CoiningThe term “coining” is derived from the stamping method of the coin, which also means get very high accuracy.

For the coining process, enough tonnage of the press brake will be used to conform the sheet metal to the exact angle of the punch and die.

In coining, the sheet metal is not just bent, it’s actually tinned by the compress between the punch and die.

The coining not only featured high accuracy, but also very small IR of the workpiece.

The tonnage required by coining is 5-8 times higher than bottom bending.

V-opening width

The V-opening width required by coining is smaller than bottom bending, generally is 5X the thickness of sheet metal.

This is mainly for the purpose of reducing the IR of the workpiece so as to reduce the stamping into IR position of the workpiece by the punch tip.

Reducing the area of V-opening can obtain higher surface pressure.

Pressure limit

Because the pressure of bending is very large, the thickness of the SPCC should not exceed 2mm, and the thickness of SUS should not exceed 1.5mm.

The reason is that 2mm SPCC material need 1100KN pressure for bending which exceeds the allowable pressure of tooling 1000KN.

Note: different toolings have different allowable pressure, so not all toolings can be used to bend 2mm SPCC material.

Coining problem

The tonnage of the press brake needs to be increased due to the big bending force, and the abrasion of tooling will also become serious.

Therefore, only toolings with high allowable pressure can be used.

Top punch selection

1. The selection of the top punch is determined by the workpiece shape.

In other words, there can be no shape interference between the punch and the workpiece when bending the workpiece.

To realize the non-interference between the punch and the workpiece, the determination of the bending sequence will play an important role.

Bending Sequence

When choosing the top punch shape, the 1:1 figure or cross-section illustration of the top punch can be adopted.

2. The selection of punch tip R

The IR of the workpiece is determined by the V-opening of the lower die (IR=V/6), while the selection of the punch tip R is also determined by many different factors.

The IR of the workpiece can be obtained by the formula IR=V/6, the punch tip R can be slightly smaller than IR.

However, the 0.6R punch tip for thin sheet metal bending is been recommended in recent years due to:

  • Able to center the punch and die correctly
  • The abrasion of the punch tip

3. The selection of punch tip angle

The selection of punch tip angle

For coining, the 90° punch will be used.

However, when bending soft steel plate less than 2mm, the 90° punch also can be used if there is small spring back of the workpiece.

For the material with a large amount of spring back (like SUS, Al or medium plate), 88° punch→84° punch→82° punch can be selected according to different spring back of materials.

Besides, the angle of the die should be the same as the punch tip angle.

The most commonly used R angle of punch tip:






Standard punch tip angles of punch include: 90°,88°,86°,60°,45°,30° etc.

Among them, the 90° bending generally use 88° punch.

4. The segmentation of punch and die

  • A-type segmentation: 100(left horn),10,15,20,40,50,200,300,100(right horn) = 835mm
  • B-type segmentation: 100(left horn),10,15,20,40,50,165,300,100(right horn) = 800mm

Selection principle of 88° die and 90° die

Selection principle of 88° die and 90° die

The tensile strength of the material

  • High tensile strength – choose 88° die
  • Low tensile strength – choose 90° die

The bending spring back amount

  • Large amount of spring back – choose 88° die
  • Small amount of spring back – choose 90° die

Coining method

  • Choose 90° die

V-opening width selection

  1. If using coining, please refer to the following table:
T 0.5-2.6 3-8 9-10 ≥12
V 6T 8T 10T 12T

Confirm the minimum bending width (b) of the product. Check whether the selected V-opening meets the minimum bending width (b) of the workpiece. (b=0.7V)


The smaller the V-opening, the more pressure of the bending will be needed.

If the drawings are not specified in ir, please use standard R (R=thickness).

If the ir is specified, V-opening must be selected strictly according to the specified ir (ir=V/6).

The selected V-opening should be bigger or smaller than the target V-opening width based on different conditions.

*After determining the V-opening width, it is necessary to perform the bending force calculation.

For the calculated bending force, please confirm:

  • Whether it can meet the tonnage requirements of the press brake for bending fabrication?
  • Whether to meet the tooling’s allowable tonnage?

The elongation of the material

The elongation of the material

In the bending process, because the inside produces compression, and the outside produces stretching, there is a partial extension of the material, we call it elongation rate.

A+B-expansion length= elongation rate

The elongation rate of the material is not fixed. The main factors affecting the elongation rate are as follows:

  • Properties of materials (texture, plate thickness)
  • Properties of toolings (V-opening width, punch tip R)
  • Processing properties (bending angle)

Now the extension rate of the material is calculated by the computer. Each manufacturer’s method of calculation is patent technology and is not to be disclosed.

However, in the process of actual processing, there will be some deviation in the calculation of the extension rate, so the most accurate extension rate needs to be measured by the actual test.

5 properties affect bend fabrication

5 properties affect bend fabrication

  • Mechanical properties: what machine tools are used
  • Material properties: what materials are used
  • Toolings properties: what toolings are used
  • Fabrication properties: what size and angles
  • Environment properties: under what circumstances

V-shape bending force calculation

V-shape bending force calculation formula

  • P: bending force (KN/M)
  • V: lower die V-opening width (mm)
  • L: bending length (mm)
  • T: plate thickness (mm)
  • σb: tensile strength of the material (N/mm2)
  • C: correction coefficient

correction coefficient list:

V 5T 6T 8T 10T 12T 16T
C 1.45 1.4 1.33 1.28 1.24 1.2

﹡The above calculation formula of bending force is obtained through experiments.

You can also check this article to learn all the 3 ways to calculate the required bending force.

The allowable tonnage of toolings

Each tooling has a corresponding maximum allowable tonnage value.

If the pressure used during processing exceeds the allowable value of the tooling, the tooling will deform, bend or burst.

Allowable tonnage of toolings

The allowable tonnage on the tooling is measured in meters. It is calculated according to the length of the bending parts.

For example:

product length – 200mm, marks on the tooling: 1000KN/M

1000KN/M×0.2M=200KN/M (20ton)

The max bending force cannot exceed 20 tons.

Allowable tonnage calculation of punch

Allowable tonnage calculation of punch

Let’s take HRC47 material for example:

The ensured allowable tonnage (KN/M) = 9.42×H2/L×10

If H=15  L=30, allowable tonnage=9.42 ×(225/30) ×10=9.42 × 7.5×10=706.5KN/M=70 TON/M

The allowable tonnage of punch will decrease under the following conditions

① Open avoidance slot, hole punch or some other additional works

Open avoidance slot, hole punch or some other additional works

Open hole and slot at the horn

② When heating and hardness decrease

When heating and hardness decrease

When using the grinding wheel cutting machine to make the horn, the hardness of the punch is decreased due to heat.

③ There’s a little bit of cracking

There's a little bit of cracking

Continue to be used even there are tiny cracks

Selection of the punch height

Selection of the punch height

Stroke = opening height – intermediate plate height – punch height – die base height – (die height – 0.5V+t)

For example:

opening height: 370mm

Max stroke: 100mm

Stroke (above fig.) = 370-120-70-75-(26-0.5*8+t) = (83-t) mm

Attention should be paid when selecting the tooling’s height:

0.5V< stroke < max stroke

Theoretical calculation of bending expansion(90°)

Theoretical calculation of bending expansion

The outer layer is subjected to tensile stress and the inner layer is subjected to compressive stress during bending.

There is a transition layer subjected to neither tensile stress nor compressive stress is been called the neutral layer.

The neutral layer stays the same length before and after the bending, so the neutral layer is the benchmark for calculating the length of the bending part.

Common factors affecting bending coefficient:

  • thickness
  • material
  • die width
  • die tip R
  • punch tip R
  • material’s rolling
  • others

Material’s properties

1. The impact of plate thickness on the stroke

  • If the thickness of the plate increases, the stroke of the bending angle will be decreased. (The thicker the plate, the smaller the V/t)
  • The influence of plate thickness change on stroke change, SUS<SPCC<AL
  • The impact of plate thickness on stroke increased:

(average plate thickness difference)< (nominal thickness) < (plate thickness changes)

2. The influence of material coefficient changes on the stroke

  • The greater the V-opening width and thickness of the plate, the greater the influence of the material coefficient on the change of stroke.

(The larger the bending angle, the more susceptible to the change of coefficient)

  • The influence of material coefficient change on the change of stroke, generally speaking.

AL  <   SPCC  <  SUS   gradually increasing.

  • The change reasons of the material coefficient are as follows:

Not the same coil < Material differences within the same manufacturer < Different manufacturers < Material handling is different, gradually increasing based on the condition.

How to adjust the parallelism of bending workpiece

No matter you are the press brake operator or the head of the production department, I believe you know the importance of the parallelism of bending workpiece.

Here I show you 4 steps to adjust the parallelism of the bending workpiece.

1) The bending machine slider returns to the starting position and reduces the pressure value of the pressure gauge to the lowest value that just drives the slider movement.

2) Place two equal height blocks on the table, preferably under the left and right cylinders.

3) Adjust the hydraulic sheet bending machine work mode to the “jog adjustment” state, remove the upper and lower mold and other accessories, and make the mechanical block to the highest position, and off the coupling on the mechanical block drive shaft gear.

4) Slide the slider gently onto the two blocks (the lower face of the slider mold is in contact with the blocks).

Related security strategy

Related security strategy

Press brake is one of the press machines.

If making only one type of product, it’s easy to control safety.

However, if there are many kinds of products even with a small amount, the safety will not be controlled easily.

There are also safety countermeasures in the process of bending and the installation of the die.

Security problems that occur frequently in other assignments are also present in the bending process.

In the bending process, the fingers are often caught in the punch and die, which are also sandwiched between the punch and the workpiece.

For the safety countermeasures of accidents, it is not enough to rely on some light safety devices and fence type safety devices, and the correct operation methods and safety awareness of operators must be established.

the safety countermeasures of accidents

Safe operation

Confirm the toolings’ allowable tonnage

Confirm the toolings’ allowable tonnage

Confirm that the toolings’ center is consistent before the punch and die closure

Confirm that the toolings’ center is consistent before the punch and die closure

Proper use of 2V die

Proper use of 2V die

Select the correct punch

Select the correct punch

insert the punch into the lower die to prevent the punch from falling and hurting the finger

When taking apart the toolings, try to insert the punch into the lower die to prevent the punch from falling and hurting the finger.

Do not hang items on the emergency stop button

Do not hang items on the emergency stop button

Incorrect tooling installation

Incorrect tooling installation

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17 thoughts on “Press Brake Bending Basics (A Guide to Sheet Metal Bending)”

  1. Sir,
    Thanks for sharing the information.
    Could you please help me with formula for the movement of Punch (Down in MM) to achieve a particular angle.
    Ex, if I know the thickness of Sheet, Height & Width of V-Die than How much should press punch(in mm) to get the required angle.
    Please help!

  2. Hi Shane,
    Is there a safe working distance, attached table or something, I work on Cincinnati’ brake presses approx 40 year old machines, 60 & 100 ton machines. What determines the distance? Or is there one
    Thank you

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