In the ever-evolving world of metal fabrication, precision and efficiency are becoming more essential than ever before. Central to achieving these goals are CNC press brakes and folders.

These sophisticated machines have become indispensable in manufacturing processes, offering unparalleled capabilities in bending and shaping metal sheets. This blog post delves into the fundamentals of CNC press brakes and folders, exploring their evolution, advantages, and how to choose the right one for your fabrication needs.

The Evolution of Metal Fabrication Technology

Metal fabrication has come a long way since the days of manual bending and shaping. The introduction of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) technology revolutionised the industry by automating processes and enhancing precision.Β 

CNC press brakes and sheet metal folders represent significant milestones in this journey, offering advanced features that streamline operations and improve output quality.

Early Innovations

Before CNC technology, metal fabrication relied heavily on manual labour, which was time-consuming and prone to errors. The advent of hydraulic press brakes marked the first major innovation, allowing for more consistent results. However, it wasn’t until the integration of CNC systems that the industry saw a dramatic leap in efficiency and accuracy.

The CNC Revolution

CNC technology brought automation to metal fabrication, enabling machines to execute complex bending sequences with minimal human intervention. This shift not only improved productivity but also reduced material waste, leading to cost savings and higher-quality products. Today’s CNC press brakes and folders are equipped with sophisticated software that allows for intricate designs and precise control over every aspect of the bending process.

Dynamic view of a press brake forming tool in operation, bending stainless steel with precision in the heart of a steel factory

CNC Press Brake Considerations

CNC press brake machines are renowned for their versatility and precision, making them a staple in modern metal fabrication. However, like any technology, they come with their own set of considerations.

  1. Precision and Accuracy: CNC press brakes can execute highly precise bends, ensuring consistent quality across large production runs. This level of accuracy is crucial for industries that require tight tolerances.
  2. Flexibility: These machines are capable of handling a wide range of materials and thicknesses, making them suitable for various applications. From delicate sheet metal to robust steel plates, the right CNC press brakes can do it all.
  3. Efficient Production: Automated processes minimise the need for manual intervention, speeding up production times and reducing labour costs. This efficiency is particularly beneficial for high-volume manufacturing.
  4. Initial Investment: The cost of acquiring and setting up CNC press brakes can be substantial. This investment may be a barrier for small businesses or those just starting out in metal fabrication. The best thing to do is work the costs and the potential long-term savings.Β 
  5. Focus on Results, Not Expertise:Β  Modern press brakes ensure consistent quality. These machines minimise the reliance on individual bending skills, leading to more consistent results and fewer errors. This reduces the need for highly experienced operators, allowing you to hire for aptitude and train them on the specific press brake’s functionalities.
  6. Maximise Uptime with Preventative Maintenance:Β  CNC press brakes are designed for peak performance. Regular maintenance ensures optimal operation and minimises the risk of unexpected downtime. This proactive approach keeps your production running smoothly and efficiently and the machines lend themselves to this.

At the plant. Worker hold the metal sheet work with the CNC hydraulic press brake machine

CNC Folders Consideration

CNC folders offer a different approach to metal bending, and they come with their own unique benefits. Understanding these can help you determine whether a CNC folder is the right choice for your specific needs.

  1. Ease of Use: CNC folders are generally easier to set up and operate compared to press brakes. Their user-friendly interfaces and straightforward programming make them even more accessible to operators with varying levels of experience.
  2. Consistency: One of the standout features of CNC folders is their ability to produce consistent bends across multiple parts. This is particularly important for projects that require uniformity and precision.
  3. Safety: The design of CNC folders often incorporates safety features that reduce the risk of accidents during operation. This is beneficial for maintaining a safe working environment.
  4. Consider Thickness and Length: CNC folders may have limitations in terms of the material thickness and length they can handle. This makes them less suitable for heavy-duty applications that require robust bending capabilities. Something to consider depending on your planned use.
  5. Slower Production Speeds: Compared to press brakes, CNC folders may have slower production speeds. If you’re operating at high-volumes this may not suit your manufacturing process.

The Cost for Complex Shapes: While CNC folders are great for simple bends, they may struggle with more complex shapes and angles. Achieving these may require additional tooling, which can increase costs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between CNC Press Brakes and Sheet Metal Folders

Choosing between a CNC press brake and a CNC sheet metal benders depends on several factors, including the specific requirements of your projects, your budget, and the capabilities you need.Β 

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind before investing:

Project Requirements

  1. Material Type and Thickness: Consider the types of materials you’ll be working with and their thicknesses. If your projects involve heavy-duty materials, a CNC press brake may be more suitable. For lighter materials and simpler bends, a CNC folder could be the better choice.
  2. Complexity of Shapes: Evaluate the complexity of the shapes and bends you need to achieve. CNC press brakes excel at handling intricate designs, while CNC folders are ideal for straightforward bends and consistent results.
  3. Production Volume: Think about your production volume and speed requirements. If you need to produce large quantities quickly, a CNC press brake’s efficiency may be beneficial. For smaller batches or custom projects, a CNC folder might be sufficient.

Budget and Investment

  1. Initial Costs: Assess your budget and the initial investment required for each type of machine. CNC press brakes typically have higher upfront costs, but they offer greater versatility. CNC folders may have a lower initial investment, making them more accessible for smaller businesses.
  2. Operational Costs: Consider the ongoing operational costs, including maintenance, training, and potential downtime. CNC press brakes may require more specialised maintenance, while CNC folders tend to have simpler upkeep.

Return on Investment (ROI): Evaluate the potential ROI for each machine based on your production needs and business goals. Investing in the right equipment can lead to long-term savings and increased profitability. Our recent blog on the real cost of in-housing sheet metal fabrication may help here.

Product Links and Further Information

For those interested in exploring CNC press brakes and folders further you can arrange a visit to our showroom or download a product guide. Our team is also on hand to help you find the right metal fabrication equipment solution for your needs.


CNC press brakes and folders are at the forefront of modern metal fabrication, offering unparalleled precision, efficiency, and versatility. By understanding their advantages and disadvantages, considering your specific project requirements, and staying informed about industry trends, you can make informed decisions that drive your business forward.

Whether you’re a metal fabricator, manufacturing engineer, or sheet metal enthusiast, embracing these advanced technologies can revolutionise your operations and position you for success in an increasingly competitive market. For more information and expert guidance, explore the range of CNC press brakes and folders available at Press and Shear.