Sheet Metal Brake

Our team is looking to buy a sheet metal brake and we have a budget of around $500. We would be looking to bend stuff .125" and less. Does anyone have a suggestion? A box break would be convenient but not critical.

What size parts are you looking to bend?

24" wide is decently common.

Is this what you’re looking for?

(that one is kind of small, but it fits in your budget and I’m not sure exactly what size you are looking for). For under $500, you’re probably not going to be able to get a decent width (24") and you probably won’t be able to bend up to .125" (I assume you’re looking to bend aluminum, but I’m not sure).

My old team bought this one ( last year, but it’s a little bit out of your budget (definitely worth the extra money though), it’s worked very well so far.

Since most of these brakes are rated for what gauge mild steel they can bend, is there any rule of thumb how to compare capacity of mild steel to capacity of Al?

I have one of these:

Nice because it can cut/shear thin stock also. Used it last year to build our minibot.

Just tried some 1/8" scraps. It will easily bend strips up to 2" wide, beyond that it gets hard, and will not shear 1/8" aluminum.

Pay particular attention to the rated capacity of a bending brake. It’s too easy to convert one to a “break”. :mad:

Many people make their own, especially for smaller widths but heavier steel or Aluminum stock. If you go to and in the advanced forum search, search for METAL BRAKE and the user name DAN. That should give you links to the 14 different posts Dan made for the bender.

If you do a Google search for “dan bender” you will find more discussion and some other versions by various folks. I think this is the same bender, with the plans at post # 29. (Rocky D is still around, if you needed Autocad plans.)

There are plans for one type from a link here, though I have no experience with this particular one:

Check the used market as well. A big brake (that will comfortably bend 1/8 aluminum) will be expensive new. Otherwise you’ll take a smaller brake and push it beyond its capacity, never a good thing.

Look into getting a hydraulic press and a bending die to make Press Brake (see this illustration for the principle). The die can be home-made from large steel angle that’s been machined.

Think about how a brake is made and then consider building one yourself (like a bigger one of these). I mean, if you can build a robot, you can build a brake. Materials will cost $2-300.

I own that very brake (with a different brand sticker on it) - you wont be able to bend 1/8" with that brake, 0.080" is the absolute max you can bend on it really, I’d recommend sticking to 0.063" or less with it though (5052 AL).