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A press brake is a machine tool for bending sheet and plate material, most commonly sheet metal It forms predetermined bends by clamping the work piece between a matching punch and die.
Recent improvements are mainly in the control and a device called a backgauge. A back gauge is a device that can be used to accurately position a piece of metal so that the brake puts the bend in the correct place. Furthermore, the back gauge can be programmed to move between bends to repeatedly make complex parts.
Early brakes relied on the tooling to determine the bend angle of the bend. The animation to the right shows the operation of the back gauge, setting the distance from the edge of the material or previous bend to the center of the die.
Press brakes often include multi-axis computer-controlled back gauges. Optical sensors allow operators to make adjustments during the bending process. These sensors send real-time data about the bending angle in the bend cycle to machine controls that adjust process parameters.