A Guide to Metalworking & Fabricating Machinery and Equipment

Bending Rolls:

Bending Rolls

A bending roll takes a metal bar and rolls it into a curve, using a pinch point and rolling point to achieve this. A bending roll is similar to other types of metal rolling, though it often requires fewer stages of processes.

However, this does not mean that the specs of bending rolls are any less important with fewer stages arguably making each aspect that much more important. The two main things to consider for bending rolls are the number of bends the machine produces and the strength it rolls with.

A basic bending roll will include a single bend which can create either a cylinder or a geometric bend in the metal. A bending roll rates its strength in pounds per square inch (PSI) with plate metal usually falling just below 40000 PSI and steel hovering around 50000 to 60000 PSI.

Boring Mills:

Boring MillsBoring mills come in a couple of different configurations, but they all involve enlarging a pre-established hole, whether it was drilled or cast. Boring mills are similar to some of the uses of a lathe, but you generally use a boring mill to make larger holes than those made on a lathe.

Generally, a boring mill uses a single-point cutting tool made out of either high-speed steel or carbide and can be used to make tapered holes. Boring mills are also able to enlarge holes along a vertical or horizontal axis with some models able to do both.

Keep in mind that the tool of the boring mill is just as important as the mill itself and can severely limit the mill’s capability if not up to snuff. Finally, this type of metalworking machinery can produce both through and blind holes but is better used for through holes.

Coil Handling Equipment:

Coil Handling EquipmentManufacturers use coil handlers for a wide range of different materials that come in different thicknesses and widths. That said, there are multiple stages of coil handlers with some models offering 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 operation.

The most basic coil handler will perform one of the 3 major tasks for coil material: feeding, uncoiling, or straightening. The 2-in-1 coil handlers often include straighteners and uncoilers in a single machine, but require a feeder.

By far one of the main benefits of a more expansive coil handling machine is the ability to save on floor space without sacrificing speed or accuracy. The Pearl Equipment Company offers a wide range of different coil handlers as part of their used machinery catalog, so you can find the best coil handling solution for your processes.

Cut-to-Length Lines:

Cut to length linesCut-to-length (CTL) line function in one of two ways but ultimately guts a sheet of metal to the desired length. This type of machinery generally also levels the metal being cut, though some perform this more as part of a primary function than others.

CTL machines cut either steel coils or flat-rolled steel after unrolling it which is where the leveling process comes into play. These machines can also function as either continuous free-loop processes or in a staggered, start and stop style.

Outside of the overall width and length of the metal sheets cut, one of the most important things to look for is the strength of the CTL machine. This determines how thick of metal you can cut, generally ranging from 0.6” to 1” thick.

Electrical Discharge Machining:

Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) comes in a couple of different forms being die-sinkers, wire-cutters, and small hole drillers. This equipment uses an electric current passing through a dielectric fluid between two electrodes to remove material.

The dielectric fluid helps prevent the electrode contacts from eroding as quickly as they otherwise would and also flushes the removed material from between the electrodes to help prevent a short circuit.

EDM equipment allows for intricate cuts, curving contours, small hole drilling, and the removal of broken tools made out of hard metals that are otherwise difficult to work with without a heated process.

EDM equipment finds some of its best use in prototype making processes for electronics, automotive, or aerospace manufacturing. This equipment also works especially well for making the die that stamps badges or coins.

Wire and small hole EDM equipment allow manufacturers to make holes for threading a wire through, used in turbine engines, or that are microscopic.

Finishing Equipment:

Finishing EquipmentFinishing equipment does not fit into a nice category like most other used metalworking machines as different products require different processes. That said, as the name implies, finishing equipment is used at or towards the final stages of production.

One of the more common types of finishing processes involves removing burrs or any sharp or rough edges from the finished product. You can get a machine to accomplish on its own, but this finishing process is often combined with others.

After removing burrs and rough edges, another common type of finishing process is polishing the final products. Similar to burr removal, finishing machines regularly combine polishing with other finishing processes. Burr removal and polishing will often occur simultaneously.

Beyond superficial or aesthetic processes, some finishing machines even alter or improve the properties of the final product. Blast cabinets of different types help increase the structural integrity of the final product.

Grinders:

GrindersGrinders are one of the few metalworking tools that can come in handheld and benchtop sizes, but line grinders are significantly larger and more powerful. That said, all sizes of metal grinders tend to perform the same function which is to remove rust and burrs from projects.

Of course, you can also use grinders to polish projects as well, though this is generally reserved for smaller models. Unlike their smaller brethren, line grinders can use a wide variety of different processes and often specialize in grinding specific surfaces.

Specifically, many line grinders specialize in working on either the surface, internal side, or as cylindrical grinders. It is important to make sure that the grinder you buy is designed for the type of metal being ground, especially between ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

This type of machinery also features horizontal or vertical alignments with some combo models able to accommodate either.

Honing:

Numerous types of metalworking machinery bore or mill holes into metal, but most of these are somewhat limited in terms of their dimensions. While this presents no issue for flat, level pieces of metal, or even larger blocks, this can present issues for other projects.

Metal tubes, in particular, require more specialized processes to ensure that the hole remains uniform without sacrificing any of the project’s other properties. Honing machines, or tube honers, allow you to enlarge holes in a project that is longer than its radius.

By far, one of the most important qualities to look at when buying a tube honer is the maximum length of the workpiece, often rated in meters. Just as important are the maximum and minimum hole sizes that the tube honer can accommodate, though the maximum size is generally more limited.

Lathes and Turning Centers:

Turning CentersLathes and turning centers are some of the most common pieces of used machinery available with the Pearl Equipment Company getting more models in as quickly as they move them out. This type of machinery uses a tool that can be fixed or moving that gradually removes material from a rotating project. Lathes and turning centers essentially perform the same function and remove material the same way.

However, a lathe is designed to work on 2 axes while a turning center can work on 3 or more axes, increasing its versatility– as well as its cost. It is worth noting that lathes and turning machines produce a fair amount of waste, but more than make up for it with their precision and versatility.

This type of machinery can be used for everything from knurling to facing to grooving and numerous other functions.

Mills and Machining Centers:

Milling is one of the oldest forms of metalworking with this type of metalworking machinery stretching back to the 18th century. As such, it should come as little surprise that this is also one of the easier types of used metalworking machines to find, though there is a wide variety of mills available. Part of the popularity of mills is the fact that they are so versatile and able to perform numerous processes.

In this way, mills are similar to lathes, except their functions are inversed with the project remaining stationary and the tool rotating around it. Machining centers are essentially complex mills, able to work on more axes

That said, many mills function on a single axis with vertical models used for precision and horizontal models used for production speed.

Press Brakes:

This is an especially common type of equipment with used metalworking machines plentiful due to its widespread use. This is also one of the more straightforward pieces of metalworking equipment used, making it easier for a staff of different skill sets and proficiencies to use.

A press brake uses two dies and a punch to bend metal quickly and efficiently, though this is not always the most accurate tool for bending metal. This type of equipment can use a wide range of different methods of applying force like servo and pneumatic, but mechanical and hydraulic are the most common.

When choosing a press brake, one of the most important factors to consider is force tonnage. While some press brakes are specialized, one of the better qualities of this equipment is its ability to accomplish different tasks with the use of different dies.

Stamping Presses:

A stamping press is surprisingly versatile despite its seemingly straightforward design and is used to cut and shape metal. This type of equipment presses metal between dies to achieve the desired result and is the modern-day equivalent of a hammer and anvil.

Because of its versatility, there are a wide variety of different types of stamping presses for different sizes of production. It is also important to consider the type of action that the stamping press uses with servo, mechanical, and hydraulic being the most common.

Mechanical presses offer a bit higher production rate, but hydraulic presses are a bit more accurate because of the steady rate of force used during the action. Thanks to the plethora of options available to stamping presses, there are usually numerous used metalworking machines of its type available.

Punching Equipment:

Punches are a bit more specialized in the function they perform but are still one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment for their task. For making an initial hole in a coil or sheet of metal, punches are some of the best for high production lines.

This type of machine shears a hole into the metal by pressing a punch tool and is also one of the least expensive processes for making holes in metal as well. While not the most common, some punching equipment can be used to make holes in metal while it is still hot.

Outside of the force of the punch, one of the most important things to consider is the tools used to make the hole. While this method is fast and cheap, the hole left will often require additional finishing work.

Rollform Lines:

Rollform lines is a piece of equipment used to shape long sheets of metal by running the sheet through a series of rolls. The rolls change the shape of the sheet incrementally, gradually shaping the metal rather than accomplishing the task through a singular process like some other metal shaping machines.

While smaller rollform line machines exist, this type of equipment generally includes a dozen or more rolls and is often used for higher production products. It is also worth noting that the product of a rollform line remains constant without the application of other functions like punching or cutting.

While roll forming is a fairly simple and straightforward type of metalworking, multiple lines allow for complex profiles to be achieved.

Saws:

Saws are another type of equipment that come in smaller sizes, but the line models tend to do the same tasks that the smaller ones do. The two main types of metalworking saws are bandsaws that use a continuous strip cutting action and cold saws which are a type of circular saw.

Between the two, bandsaws are generally the more versatile, but cold saws win the edge in terms of accuracy. However, bandsaws involve a bit more work as their cuts need more finishing afterward.

On top of that, you cannot sharpen a bandsaw blade and require complete replacement. Still, the cold saw is a bit more limited in volume and not able to make as large of cuts as the bandsaw.

It is usually easier to find used machinery in the saw market than some of the other more specialized equipment with the Pearl Equipment Company offering numerous options.

Shears:

Metalworking shears all ostensibly perform the same function, though this type of equipment is often combined with other functions to increase its versatility. Regardless, the primary function of a shear machine is to take sheet metal or plates and cut them to precise sizes.

While this equipment uses numerous power sources, the two most common are mechanical and hydraulic. Due to increases in power and control, hydraulic shears are quickly becoming more popular and plentiful than mechanical shears.

Shears are fairly straightforward and often only require a single person to use, though basic models are somewhat limited in their functions. That said, you can regularly find shears that also include bending and punching functions as well.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a metal shear is the type of edge the shear tool uses to cut.

Sheet Metal Folders:

Sheet metal folders are primarily used for thinner metals to make boxes, panels, and other similar products. Sheet metal folders are like to press brakes in many ways and are used to accomplish fairly similar purposes.

Technically, a press brake can accomplish all of the tasks that sheet metal folders do, but a sheet metal folder can do its job quicker and easier than a press brake.

In this instance, it often comes down to how fast you need to shape the sheet metal with sheet metal folders offering a more narrow range of processes but able to do them significantly quicker.

Another benefit of sheet metal folders is that you often only need one person to run this type of metalworking machinery, saving you on payroll overhead.

Tube Machinery:

There are a couple of different types of metalworking machinery used for tube processing with the two most common being tube mills and swagers. However, these two types of machines work fairly differently from one another, unlike many other products found in Pearl Equipment Company inventories.

Tube mills are the more common of the two and involve a roller die which strips the metal over multiple passes until the tube is shaped. Swagers, on the other hand, use a rapid succession of strikes with hammers to shape the metal.

One of the main advantages of swagers over tube mills is less material waste as the swager does not actually strip the project of metal to shape it. That said, swagers are traditionally used to make swages at the end of tubes and not form the entire tube itself.

Still, swagers can also be used to expand tubing, something that tubing mills are generally not equipped to do.

Welding:

The last category of metalworking machinery is another type that comes in a variety of different sizes. That said, this type of equipment generally performs similar functions whether industrial or not.

Granted, there are CNC welders which allow for greater precision, but you tend to pay more the more axes the welder accommodates. Another important thing to consider with welders is the type of welding the machine employs. Mig, tig, stick, and arc welding are the most common types, but not all welding machines can perform all of the different types of welding.

One of the main benefits of an industrial welder is the increase in power. However, you generally only use robotic welders with high production lines to justify their increased cost.

About Pearl Equipment Company:

Founded in 1954, Pearl Equipment Company serves the global industrial markets for manufacturing, including sheet metal fabrication, metal forming, machining, and primary metals processing.  Pearl’s global headquarters is located in Nashville, Tennessee plus multiple industrial warehousing and heavy storage locations. Providing our customers with best in class access to industrial machinery and equipment markets and continuous improvement of our processes set Pearl Equipment Company as a leader in buying and selling new and used metalworking equipment.  Pearl’s longtime combined affiliation with Machinery Dealers National Association (MDNA) and the Association of Machinery and Equipment Appraisers (AMEA) has built a reputation of expertise and high ethical standards in the machine tool industry. Your trusted source for machinery and metalworking equipment. 

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