Panel bender or work center? The evolution of P2lean
One of Salvagnini’s most successful panel benders is P2lean. The panel bender is known for its high technological standards, low energy consumption, compact layout, high productivity and versatility. The introduction of the CUT and RSU options has broaden P2lean’s horizons even further.
P2lean is certainly one of Salvagnini’s most successful panel benders. The features that make it a particularly appealing investment for companies moving into the panel bending world are its high technological standards, low energy consumption and compact layout without, of course, forgetting the productivity and versatility typical of all Salvagnini panel benders. And the introduction of the CUT and RSU options broadens its horizons even further.
To respond to the modern economic and industrial context, which is shifting progressively from large batches and a make-to-stock strategy towards a lean, make-to-order, just-in-time strategy marked by medium, small or single-unit batches, companies now have a different approach to production. Being competitive today does not merely mean having a fast part production rate: the challenge lies in terms of production efficiency, understood as the ability to move from one production code to the next with shorter re-tooling times, whatever the geometric and mechanical characteristics of the sheet metal loaded and the number and sequence of the bends. Without forgetting that efficiency also means minimising errors and waste, using increasingly autonomous and extremely precise technologies. Salvagnini responds to all these needs with its own range of 16 different panel benders, one of the most successful of which is precisely the P2lean.
Productive and adaptive, precise and automatic
“For us at least, there is a truly large number of available panel bending solutions,” Nicola Artuso, Salvagnini Product Manager explains. “Like all Salvagnini panel benders, the P2lean natively combines productivity, with its automatic bending and handling cycles, with an average of 17 bends per minute, and flexibility, with its universal bending tools. It doesn’t need re-tooling, because the upper and lower blades, the counterblade and the blankholder are universal tools that are able to process the whole range of thicknesses and machinable materials. The ABA automatic blankholder adapts the tool length according to the size of the part being produced in-cycle, without machine down times or manual re-tooling. P2lean is really the ideal solution for kit or single batch productions. Only the loading and unloading operations are performed by the operator, who positions the sheet metal on the worktable and collects the product after bending.”
P2lean’s high technology allows it to adapt completely autonomously to the varying mechanical and geometrical characteristics of the sheet metal being machined, as well as to the external environment. The integrated advanced sensors measure the actual thickness and effective size of the blank, detecting any deformations caused by variations in temperature. MAC 2.0, or Material Attitude Correction, which is used to measure the effective resistance of the material during the bending phase, works with the same logic. The data are fed in real time into the bending formula, which defines the correct force to apply to the sheet metal in order to obtain the required angle, guaranteeing the precision, repeatability and quality of the finished product.
“Finally, with a view to Industry 4.0 and to process adaptivity, P2lean can be equipped with our OPS proprietary software, used to communicate with the factory ERP,” Artuso adds. “According to need, OPS manages the production of sequences of different parts, and the panel bender immediately responds to requests with its universal bending tools and automatic in-cycle set-up.”
Transforming the panel bender into a work center
P2lean comes in four models, which differ by maximum bending length (from 2,180 mm to 2,500 mm) and maximum bending height (165 mm or 203 mm). Salvagnini supports each customer with an in-depth initial feasibility study, used to configure and customise each P2lean in the best possible way: its many options respond to a wide range of production requirements.
“At Salvagnini we work every day to further extend the fields of application of the panel bender, making it even more attractive for those sectors – such as subcontracting – where the flexibility and versatility of the machine inventory are crucial,” Artuso explains. “This is precisely why we recently added two devices borrowed from our P4 panel benders to the options available for the P2lean: CUT and RSU.”
The CUT tool is used to create narrow profiles with all the precision and flexibility typical of Salvagnini panel benders: this is a cutting blade that works above the panel bender's lower bending blade. An unloading device ensures the automatic and sequential cutting of profiles with different lengths, materials, thicknesses and shapes, from a single starting sheet. This option is a distinctive feature of Salvagnini panel benders. It is extremely advantageous when the parts are too small or too narrow to be bent on a press brake or on a standard panel bender, as in the case of very narrow profiles.
“The CUT tool is a well-known option which is in great demand, above all in mature markets like those of Europe and North America, and has been included in over 40% of the P4 machines delivered over the last 5 years,” Artuso adds. “Until a few months ago, however, this option was only available for P4 panel benders with bending length of 2500 mm or more. At last, it is also available for the P2lean, just like the RSU device.”
The RSU allows the P2lean to use a number of special tools for deburring, ribbing or engraving the sheet metal, if the material has to be weakened or the springback reduced to achieve a greater final quality in some bending cycles - for example with tubular bends. With a specific tool, the RSU device can also facilitate the cutting and removal of protective plastic film.
“The CUT and RSU options can be installed together, along with all the other available options. These latest developments are increasingly turning our P2lean panel bender into a versatile and productive work center, able to bend parts of different shapes and materials without re-tooling, with low consumption and a compact layout, as well as performing a series of secondary operations that are frequently required in our customers’ workshops. The process advantages are clear: P2lean is a winning solution from every standpoint,” Artuso concludes.
Simplifying bending with STREAMBEND
In the global market for traditional bending, office software is not very common, and we can realistically consider a ratio of 10:1 – one software license for every 10 press brakes installed. The press brake works even without offline programming software, and an experienced operator, who takes the time needed for analyses and tests, is generally able to make the bends, and therefore the parts required, even if they have complex geometries. The close relationship between office software and the Salvagnini panel bender, on the other hand, is pretty much taken for granted.
“Panel benders are designed to maximise efficiency and productivity,” explains Stefano Cera, Salvagnini Product Manager for software, “which in the factory are achieved by fully exploiting the machine’s operating rate. The operator just has to concentrate on operating the panel bender, not on programming it.”
By allowing activities to run in parallel and fully exploiting the panel bender, offline programming becomes a fundamental step in the production process. And it is on offline programming that Salvagnini has focused with STREAMBEND, the proprietary software for panel bender programming. Like all the CAMs included in the STREAM programming suite, STREAMBEND was designed to assist programmers in managing programming activities.
“As programmers are increasingly often digital natives, who are far from the actual production technologies, they prefer user-friendly, autonomous software,” Cera continues. “STREAMBEND is used to program a single part or series of parts completely automatically, even starting from an assembled finished product. It therefore offers complete flexibility: if the automatic proposal given by the software doesn’t meet the programmer’s needs, it is of course possible to interactively edit the program.”
The 3D simulator included in the programming environment is fundamental in this sense: it helps to understand what will happen on the panel bender, highlighting any collisions or problems in the bending sequence. The aim is to obtain foolproof programs that require no further checks or changes once on board the machine.
But STREAMBEND goes even further: starting from the bending program, it automatically recreates the relative unfolded part and the relative DXF. And it benefits from its inclusion in STREAM, a fully integrated programming suite.
“We can automatically program a sequence of multiple parts along all the Salvagnini work stations,” Cera concludes. “Sharing information on subsequent technologies can be a decisive factor for ensuring the efficiency of a single machine, the entire workshop and the production cycle as a whole.”