The selection of press brake tooling is crucial to get the best results from your press brake. These machines have become an important part of almost every modern metal fabrication industry. Due to their wide range of applications, press brakes have become popular and the options for tooling have increased to encompass various lengths and shapes of bends. In this blog, we will talk about the material, styles, types, and important factors to consider when choosing press brake tooling.

What Is Press Brake Tooling?

Press brake tooling is the equipment used (dies and punches) in a press brake to create the desired bend of the operator. This tooling is not built into the machine, but instead is a part that is swappable to better accommodate different bending applications. This tooling is the part of the press brake that comes into contact with the metal being bent.

What Is The Main Purpose Of Press Brake Tooling?

The purpose of press brake tooling is to make the machine suitable for various metal bending applications. Without the tooling being installed onto the press brake, the machine will be very limited in its production capabilities. These limitations include the type of metal you can bend, the shape of the bends, and the size of the bends. Conversely, press brake tooling extends the capabilities of press brakes. Different bends become possible by changing just the tooling, making the press brake extremely versatile and adaptable to different jobs.

What Are The Key Elements Of Press Brake Tooling?

Press brake tooling is composed of different elements that work together for a press brake to operate at maximum efficiency. These elements are:

Top Tooling Types

Also referred to as the punch, this tooling piece is present on top of the workpiece. It exerts the force necessary to bend the workpiece. It is crucial to use high-quality punches as they are the central part of the metal bending process. There are many different types of punches available for different jobs. These include:

Standard Punch – The most common punch. Its thicker body and narrow punch tip exert high tonnage that is useful for bending thicker material. The inward side has a slight concave. This provides the ability to fold a shorter flange.

Acute Angle Punch – Acute Angle Punches, referred to more commonly as acute punches, bend shorter angles. These punches have a sharp tip and generally have a bulky body.

Narrow Punch – Also known as a sword punch, narrow punches are uniform throughout their length. These punches are used where there is little clearance available and other punches might not fit easily. Common application includes closing off a square or box-type profile.

Sash Punch – A sash punch has a narrow body and an angled tip towards the press brake. The angled tip provides the ability to work around corners and create bends. A common application of a sash punch is manufacturing door jambs.

Swan Neck Punch – Swan neck punches are used to create niche U profiles in the workpiece. The shape of the swan neck punch is specially created so the legs of the bent workpiece do not collide with the tooling. Gooseneck punches, a variation of the swan neck, are also used for U profiling. Due to the niche profile, these tools are used at a lower tonnage.

Joggle Punch – Joggle punch is tooling used for making bends around the corner. Joggle punch has a thinner profile, making it extremely useful for creating S-shape bends. These are not very common punches, often used for niche punch selection jobs.

Radius Top Punch – Radius top punches have a rounded tip instead of the sharp tips that other punches have. This creates a U-shape bend instead of a sharp V-shape bend. This punch usually comes with a U-shape die for a properly rounded corner.

Bottom Tooling Types

Often referred to as a die, it is a hollowed tooling placed under a workpiece to provide support for the bending process. Dies absorb the force exerted by the punch. Many different shapes and sizes of dies are available for different manufacturing applications. Common die shapes include:

Single V Die – Single V dies have a ‘V’ shaped cavity hollowed into the tooling. These dies are the most common type due to their wide range of applicability in manufacturing. Single V Dies generally conform to the rules of 8: the opening of the die is kept at 8 times material thickness.

Two-Way Self-Centering V Dies – Two-Way Self-Centering V dies have two ‘V’ shaped cavities parallel. This provides a faster workflow as compared to a single V die. These dies also offer the advantage of not requiring retooling in the case of an additional bend angle requirement for a workpiece.

Multi V Die – Multi V die configurations have several ‘V’ cuts arranged around the die. The number of these ‘V’ cuts ranges from 3 on. The benefit of this die is having multiple bending options in a single piece of tooling. This means a change to your bend angle or material thickness can be handled by simply rotating the die.

An example of a Multi-V-Die

Corrugating Dies – Corrugating dies as their name suggests have a corrugated pattern at the bottom. These dies are used in niche requirements where the bent sheet metal requires the same pattern on the outer surface.

Other parts of a press brake include:

Tool Holder – A press brake tool holder is a useful accessory for mounting the tooling on a press brake. Modern tool holders come equipped with productivity-increasing features, such as quick-release clamping and vertical loading and unloading. Modern tool holders can also help increase precision by limiting tool vibration.

Backgauge – The backgauge of a press brake aligns the workpiece to improve consistency and precision in the metal bending process. Movable on the x-axis of a press brake, the backgauge comes equipped with finger stops and blocks that stop the bending process when the desired length is met.

Crowning System – A crowning system is a press brake tool that compensates for the deflection caused by the ram and the workbench during the bending process. A crowning system is especially advised when bending large sheet metal. Efficiently using the crowning system requires an understanding of press brake deformation and deflection. If you are new to larger format machines and the deformation of your press brake, reach out to Moore Machine Tools and let us help you.

What Material Is Used For Making Press Brake Tooling?

Press brake tooling is typically made of special-grade steel. As the punch and die handle most of the force exerted by the press brake, it is vital to use high-strength hardened steel to sustain the tonnage exerted by the press brake. The most common grades for press brake tooling are T8 grade, T10 grade, 42CrMo grade, and Cr12MoV.

What Is The Best Material For Press Brake Tooling?

The best material for press brake tooling is considered to be Chromium Molybdenum Steel. Chromoly steel is exceptionally strong and highly resistant to corrosion. It provides the ability to handle all press brake requirements and provide a long service life. Tungsten Carbide is another good option for press brake tooling, providing a high value of quality at a reasonable price.

Importance Of Choosing The Right Press Brake Tooling?

Choosing the right press brake tooling is crucial to every aspect of your metal bending production needs. As noted above, press brake tools handle the exertion of the force of a press brake. A wrong tool, tooling that is not connected correctly, or poor quality tooling can all result in deformed or destroyed workpieces and can cause injury to press brake operators and damage to the machine itself too.

Does Tooling Affect The Accuracy Of Formed Parts?

As we hinted earlier, the choice of press brake tooling has a role in the accuracy and precision of formed parts. The wrong shape of the tool will result in the wrong shape of the workpiece. Additionally, the bend angle of the piece depends on the angle of the punch (in the case of air bending) and the die (in the case of bottoming). The tolerance of the tooling can also affect the precision of the bends.

How To Choose The Right Press Brake Tooling?

Choosing the right press brake tooling is important to the success of your production. There are many factors, but some of the things to consider when choosing the right tooling are:

  • Type of Material
  • Material Thickness
  • Length of Workpiece
  • Bend Angle
  • Bend Radius
  • Bend Shape
  • Type of Bending
  • Budget
  • Tooling Brand
  • Production Volume
  • Press Brake Compatibility
  • Tonnage Capacity

How To Maintain And Store Press Brake Tooling?

We recently went over how to store your press brake in the video below. A great way to rest the tooling and ensure there are no unnecessary collisions.


As we’ve explored the various types of tooling, their applications, and the evolving technologies shaping press brake manufacturing, it is evident that press brake tooling is not just about bending metal but achieving unparalleled efficiency and quality in the manufacturing process. The diverse range of materials, shapes, and sizes that can be accommodated by well-designed tooling underscores its crucial role in meeting the demands of modern production. In this industry, staying informed about the latest advancements and understanding the different tooling options will empower manufacturers to stay competitive, enhance productivity, and ultimately shape the future of metal fabrication. No matter what tooling requirements you have, Moore Machine Tools can help you get started.