Choosing your shop’s next press brake often comes down to selecting an electric or hydraulic model. But it’s not an easy choice, as both are long-term investments and have different qualities to think about.

To help, we’ve created a guide to choosing between electric and hydraulic press brakes.

Electric Press Brake Uses and Qualities

If speed and accuracy is what you’re after, an electric press brake is your answer.

Many models come equipped with advanced CNC controls, designed to give you the perfect bend on the first try – even on complex, multi-piece parts. By eliminating errors, you won’t waste metal or experience slowdowns.

Here’s a look at the characteristics of an electric press brake:

Accuracy Creates hyper-accurate bends in complex and delicate workpieces
Production Capable of big production runs that demand speed
Material Suited to expensive material, as precise bending rarely results in an error
Tonnage Available only in small and medium models, as electric versions don’t exceed 300 tons
Technology Advanced CNC controls may initially be hard for some operators to learn
Initial Cost Priced higher than hydraulic models of the same size
Maintenance Virtually no maintenance fees, especially if it’s used properly

The main disadvantage of an electric press brake is the high initial cost. It will always be more expensive than a similar-sized hydraulic model.

But electric press brakes have features that offset the price tag, giving you a superior ROI. These include:

  • Inexpensive preventative maintenance:
    Unlike hydraulic press brakes, electric versions don’t suffer from faulty seals, pumps, and valves. Operators also don’t have to repair broken pipes, hoses, and filters.
  • Fewer working expenses:
    You won’t need to frequently buy oil to run an electronic press brake.
  • Scrap metal reduction:
    By consistently creating accurate bends, electric press brakes don’t waste workpieces. Avoiding mistakes results in a faster pay back on the upfront cost of the machine.

Hydraulic Press Brake Uses and Qualities

Ease-of-use is one of the biggest reasons why fabricators choose hydraulic press brakes. Operators can rely on straightforward controls to quickly learn the ins and outs of any new model.

Without a difficult learning curve, employees can confidently handle production runs while using a hydraulic press brake.

The low price tag – especially compared to electric versions – makes hydraulic press brakes affordable for any metal forming shop. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can purchase a hydraulic model while devoting resources to other technology needs.

They continue to shine as the right option if your jobs involve simple bends on large workpieces. If you need a press brake bigger than 300 tons to bend the materials you handle, hydraulic is your only option.

Electric press brakes don’t come with tonnage ratings this high.

Extra Tips for Choosing Between Electric and Hydraulic Press Brakes

To determine whether an electric or hydraulic press brake is the best option, you should:

  • See if your current press brakes keep up with your workload. If you need pure speed, you’ll likely prefer an electric model.
  • Determine the materials you want to handle more of, and the ones you usually handle. Choose a press brake that best bends these materials.
  • Check to see how your employees feel about using new software. If they’re excited about advanced CNC controls, you may lean toward an electric press brake. If they want to stick with simplicity, a hydraulic press brake may fit well with your shop.
  • Keep the size of your shop in mind. If you take on small runs and produce one-off parts, a simple hydraulic model can do the job. But if you own a high-volume shop, you may need the power of an electronic press brake.

It may be a difficult decision, but keep this information in mind while consulting a reputable fabrication technology dealer to help choose between an electronic and hydraulic press brake.

MazakPower is one of China’s leading press brake makers. Contact us today to talk to a metal forming expert or make a purchase.