Folding Machine vs Press Brake

Folding Machine vs Press Brake

Article written by Tiago C. Silva –

There is a certain lack of knowledge about the folders and its operation compared to the traditional bending machines, the press brakes. In this article we intend to describe the advantages that Folding Machine can offer in a sheet metal work shop.

Take note that folding machines and press brakes can and should coexist, but in the case of an initial investment, we will show the points where the folding machine becomes an useful and competitive equipment.


The Context

The folder’s uses the concept of folding material from tool called bending beam which produces a rotation against the material that is clamped by the camping beam. This type of strategy allows working on delicate surfaces without damaging the product, as is the case with thinner ( beetween 0.5 to 0.8mm), coated and lacquered plates. Nevertheless, Stefa VH models, depending of arms number, can work with thicker thicknesses, up to 3mm .

Stefa Folding Machine for 3mm with 12m of length. 

In addition to this, a huge feature in favor is the long lenght of working that can be achieved in a folding machine. The Stefa VH models can cover lengths ranging from 4m up to 12m. Something that in a press brake, taking into account its mechanical construction, entails many costs in an initial phase (ignoring the energy consumptions), making it impossible to reach the point of return of the investment for many companies. In addition the folding machines occupy a reduced space in its depth allowing a saving of area and height, compared to the press brakes.


Production Speeds

The folders may not be the fastest folding equipment for sheet metal, but for small to medium-sized production is certainly the most efficient and productive. In a folding machine the tool configuration times are greatly reduced because there are no punches or dies. It is quite easy for the operator to start operating the machine and obtain an excellent finished product. These characteristics make the machine ideal to produce many profiles in small batches.


Various profiles can be executed on folding machine.


Thanks to the depth of work that the folding machine can achieve (in the case of Stefa machine up to 1070mm) it is much more accessible to handle larger plates. Positioning is an uncomplicated task because the large part of the plate is supported on trays and “inside” the machine, freeing the operator from certain movements of fatigue.

An open hem made in folding machine.

The learning time for operation is also shorter. Regardless of material thickness, radius, angle or sheet quality, there is no need to pre-set tools in a folding machine. Non-use of tools avoids maintenance costs and purchase of new ones. And by default, the geometry of the clamping beam allows you to perform rounds, hems, ‘tear drop’ hem or open hem – the kind of jobs that can only be done in a press brake with specific tools.



In addition to the aforementioned advantages, the folding machine takes a step forward with its built-in shear (standard equipment on the Stefa VH). The utility of having the cut over the whole length of the machine allows enormous flexibility because in a single equipment can have two functions that traditionally are in two different equipment. The advantages of the built-in shear are to reduce costs in the logistics of the parts, avoiding the time to prepare the guillotine for cutting and then later transporting the material to the press brake. Not even equating maintenance and energy costs usually associated with shears. The technology of two laminar slitting disks makes the cut smooth and burr free.

Cutting in 3mm thickness plate.


CNC controller and safety

Taking into account the multifaceted workshops in which folding machines are inserted, the CNC controller allows another approach to day-to-day needs. Several times you are faced with the situation where the customer comes directly to your shop requesting a special profile with some urgency; The operator can easily go to the leftover material and get the plate, perform cutting and then fold it in a matter of a few minutes. With a CNC command this process becomes faster; With the simple finger we draw the profile – almost like we drawing on paper – we visualize the  automatically sequence generated and is ready to produce! The material development calculation is performed automatically and the operator is free to worry about the further corrections.

Draw the profile with a finger

The folder’s are a machine with low accident probability for the operator. The lack of regulation for the folding machines allows the customer to save costs on expensive safety lasers (such as optional equipment for Stefa); Which does not prevent the machine from being safe: its safety systems ensure that the operator is always alert to possible crushing and injury – does not allow automatic movements without the operator’s permission.



The folding machines will never replace other bending equipaments such press brakes or roll formers but can be a successful option in a multifaceted production workshop. They’re machines traditionally present in central and northern Europe; And taking into account the industrial and flexible profile of these countries, their popularity is increasing in southern Europe, markets that are still unaware of this type of equipment.


For more information please be free to contact us,

Tiago Silva