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About the sheet metal folding process

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Sheet metal folding is the stage in the metal fabrication process and covers the bending, folding and pressing of sheet metal into a predetermined geometry.

Metal folding is used to create many products including pipes, enclosures, boxes and more, as sheet metal can be fashioned and reshaped in many ways such as rolling, indenting, bending and shearing.

The process is typically carried out on a press brake machine which uses strong tensile and shear forces to bend, fold and punch the sheet metal into the required shape.

However, advanced metal folding technology now includes automated panel bender machines and high-speed bending cells.

Press brake machines come in a range of sizes and types but most have a hydraulic ram with an upper punch that presses metal into a lower die. Press brakes can operate manually or automatically and many are computer-controlled.

Sheet metal fabricators often use advanced 3D CADCAM systems to help design and develop complex folded components and programs can be generated for batch production and stored electronically for later use.

Sheet metal folding is often just one process of many used in the manufacture of metal fabrications and is usually preceded by laser cutting or metal punching operations and followed by welding and assembly.

The metal folding process

The metal folding process at KMF usually starts with the programming and design teams who help determine the most efficient machines, materials and methods to use to manufacture the finished metal component.

A range of press brake tools are available at KMF and the choice of machine depends on the requirements of the sheet metal component.

Design engineers consider such things as material thickness, bend radius and batch size to select the most appropriate machines and tooling.

The majority of the metal components manufactured at KMF have undergone punching or laser cutting before metal forming and engineers will use a product route card to track progress through the metal folding areas.

Metal forming machines

Metal components can be folded manually on a press brake machine or programmed on automated folding cells.

Automated CNC metal folding programmes determine the angle and movement of the press brake tools and hydraulic rams as electrical servo motors provide the force to form a shape in the sheet metal.

KMF's modern metal fabrication facilities currently operate 21 press brakes, two automated panel bending machines and two robotic metal folding machines. Our CNC folding machines have varying capabilities and a maximum bend length of just under four metres.

Robotic bending
KMF's robotic folding technology includes two Trumpf bending cells – a Trubend Cell 7036 and Trubend Cell 5170 – which offer automated tool selection, material loading and a conveyor system for flexible storage.

These metal folding machines are the ideal solution for high-volume part production. The ability to operate 'lights out' allows for a fast, precise and cost-effective metal bending solution.

Our quality teams carry out in-process quality checks throughout the fabrication process to ensure high repeatable accuracy while advanced 3D measurement technology guarantees all components meet the very tight tolerances required by many KMF metal forming customers.

Automated panel bending
Automated panel bending machinery at KMF includes a Salvagnini P4L-2516 and a Salvagnini P4-1916.

This advanced metal fabrication equipment can achieve unique geometries far greater than press brake forming and, as a result, can provide customers with opportunities to improve on product design.

Equipped with universal bending tools, KMF can guarantee productivity and deliver expanded forming capabilities such as large radius CNC bump forming, down bend negative forming and reverse flanges.

Press brake forming
Extensive press brake forming capacity at KMF includes Trumpf Trubend, Amada and Bystronic Edwards Pearson machines.

Press brakes can often handle a broader range of material thicknesses than panel benders which favour light gauge sheets and therefore are often more versatile.

Metal folding applications

The combination of universal bending tools and world-class metal folding technology with varying capabilities means KMF can guarantee high productivity in the manufacture of almost any metal enclosure, panel, bracket or component.

Components vary in complexity, from small parts with a single bend through to large segments with many bends and multiple flange lengths.KMF has the capacity and equipment to provide a vast range of metal fabrications for many industries, including kiosk, vending, aerospace, food and packaging and scientific equipment.

Find out more about KMF's extensive customer base and product experience.

Metal bending capacity

KMF can fold, bend and form an extensive range of sheet metal materials of varying size and thickness depending on the metal folding technology.

The range of materials formed at KMF includes mild steel, galvanised steel, stainless steel, zintec and aluminium.

If you have an enquiry or any questions regarding our metal folding and metal bending capabilities, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service team.

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