The bottom section of Brake Press Tooling is known as the die. Dies are classified by the shape of the groove, the number of grooves and the height of the die. The most common shape of die is a V Die, which, as its name suggests, is a block of tooling steel which has a v shaped groove cut into it. Generally V Dies are first classified by the number of grooves as 1V, 2V, 3V and 4V. As their names suggest 1V Dies will have a single groove in them. They are typically thinner allowing for tighter bend profiles. 2V Dies will have 2 grooves and will always feature the same angle on both grooves to prevent accidental damage, however the v opening size will typically be different allowing for different gauges to be formed with the same die. 3 Sided Dies, as well as 4 sided, are square lengths of tooling with different v openings in each side. Second to V Dies the most common type is a U Die. U Dies feature a rectangular cutout with chamfered or radius edges and flat tops. Because of this geometry U Dies lend themselves to having grooves cut into more than one side of the die.
Below are some key points to properly installing a die into a press brake. Be sure to read and understand them all.
- Safety – Always begin by checking that the brake is in a safe and secure position. Press brake tooling is often heavy and hard, so dropping the tooling on yourself or others is a serious safety concern. Always make sure that you have the necessary help when installing heavier dies. Never allow your hands between the die and die holder, always handle the die from above.
- Before inserting the die into the holder or rail, ensure that the receiving tooling is clean of any debris or deformities. A small amount of WD-40 is often recommended to remove dirt and provide a small amount of lubrication for sliding the die. Do not over apply solvents or lubricants, always wipe clean with a paper towel.
- If a die has a tongue or groove for centering it on the rail, always begin by inserting the die from the side of the machine. While it is tempting to just ‘drop’ the die onto the rail this can cause unnecessary wear on the tooling’s edges. If your rail or die holder has set screws then loosen them first to allow a clear path for the die to slide across the machine.
- As you slide the die to the desired location take note of locations where it seems to encounter resistance, or where it hits on the transition of one rail piece to another. These areas of friction can indicate that the holders are out of alignment slightly and need to be adjusted. Adjustment could be as fine as tightening a die holder bolt on the lower beam, or as extreme as grinding or sanding away a damaged section of die holder. Height differences between rail sections can often be shimmed, but may also need more significant modification.
- With the die in the proper position, secure with appropriate set screws and begin the installation of the punch tooling. When possible you should always try and center the die on the press brake to ensure even loading.