Alpha Manufacturing is able to offer a variety of different manual metal folding and CNC folding solutions, which allows us to select the most suitable and efficient method to meet the individual needs of each customer.

What is metal folding?

Metal folding is the process that gives the metal product its shape. A machine is used to bend (or fold) the metal in order for it to reach its intended form. The benefits of using this robust and efficient machine are that it can fold small intricacies and create a variety of shapes for many day-to-day products.

Our folding department consists of manual press brakes, automated panel folding machinery and automated robotic folders, which means we’re able to match individual customer requirements to the most suitable metal folding solution.

Our commitment to continual investment means that we now have the following folding facilities at our disposal.

Robot CNC Metal Folding

Trumpf Trubend Cell 7000

Robotic CNC folding

The Trubend 7000 is a fully automated robotic bending cell with automatic part picking and finished part scanning. The TruBend Cell is ideal for high volume, smaller part production and can produce parts “lights out” at a high rate with ultimate accuracy. Offline programming combined with fully automated ‘lights out’ operation makes the TruBend 7000 a highly cost-effective folding solution.

Amada Astro 100NT

Amada Astro Robotic Folding

The Amada Astro 100NT is an automatic robotic bending system integrated with a 110-ton hydraulic press brake. It is designed for high-precision part productivity through reduced cycle times. The Astro 100NT is a totally unmanned robotic bending system, which increases productivity and profitability without increasing labour. Programs for folding components are produced off-line, dramatically reducing set up times and allowing cost-effective small batch runs.

Automated Panel Folding

Salvagnini P4 Lean Panel Bender

Speed, reliability and accuracy are what make the P4 Lean Panel Bender one of the most advanced panel folding machines available on the market. We installed this machine as an upgrade to our Amada TBZ machine during 2019 and it is already producing parts at a rate up to 3x times faster, with zero defects.

The fully automated Salvagnini P4 Lean panel bender is a highly versatile and flexible panel folding machine which utilises numerous smart technology features to maximise productivity and efficiency. It’s innovative MAC 2.0 system ensures consistent quality and zero scrap thanks to automatic adjustments where material variations outside pre-set tolerances are detected. 

Salvagnini P4 Lean Panel Folding Capabilities:

Component length: Up to 2495mm x 11524mm

Material thickness: Up to 3.2mm

Standard Manned Sheet Metal Folding

Manual Amada Press Brakes

Amada Pressbrakes

Alpha currently operate 7 Amada Press Brakes which are manually programmed and operated by CNC fold operatives. These machines are utilised for folding parts which are unsuitable for automated fold solutions, for example, longer or heavier components.

Alpha Manufacturing Manned Folding Capabilities:

Component length: up to 4100mm

Machine tonnage: up to 220 tonnes

An Integrated Metal Folding Service

We are proud to manufacture products from start to finish here at Alpha. Taking your project from CAD design to delivery is what we do best.

Find out more about the Alpha Manufacturing processes today.


What is sheet metal folding?

Metal folding or forming is simply the process of applying one or bends to a sheet of metal by securing the sheet at a certain point and applying enough pressure to fold the metal.

The angle of the bend is usually determined by the shape of the top or bottom tool (usually a “V” shape) and also the pressure applied.

A diagram of a pressbrake punch and die:

What machinery is used to fold sheet metal?

This depends on a number of variables such as material, size, quantity and complexity of the parts required. At Alpha Manufacturing, we have a range of folding option, including press brakes, automated panel folding and robotic.

What is a manual press brake?

The traditional and most common method of folding is to use a press brake machine. We have seven manual Amada press brakes which form bends by clamping the metal sheet between a punch and die (top tool and bottom tool. An operator will feed in the sheet to a pre-set back stop and hold the material in place whilst the press brake applies the bend.

What is an automated panel bending machine?

More advanced machinery is available for automated folding which involves less operator involvement. We use a TBZ panel folding machine which works differently from a press brake in that it doesn’t use a v tool. Instead, it clamps the work piece in place before applying upwards or downwards pressure depending on the direction of the bend.

The TBZ Panel bending machine does not require an operator to feed in the material. This machine is programmed offline and will feed in its own material, output a finished part and also select its own tools based on the pre-determined programming.

What is a Robotic bend cell?

Even further advanced folding machinery utilises robotics to fully automate the folding process. We operate an Amada Astro Robot folder which has a robotic arm which picks up material, feeds it into the fold tool and applies the pressure.

Our latest investment in fold machinery – the TruBend Cell 7000 takes this one stage further. Fully automated, it has a robotic arm which selects material, scans it to ensure that it is the correct spec, can apply multiple bends, then scan the finished part to check the dimensions are correct and then place the finished parts on a conveyor to be stored.

These automated robotic folding machines are the most efficient and accurate available today. They are most suited to high volume, repeat manufacture, particularly of smaller products.

What is the sheet metal folding process?

The first stage of the folding process is for our design team and programmers to agree on the best method of folding the product using their extensive knowledge. This will determine the fold machinery that is used and the process that will be applied.

Our programming department will then write the appropriate programmes for the machine selected. These will either be a program for a manual operator to follow or for one of the automated machines to run. Programmers will consider factors such as material utilisation and run time of the job to fit the job into the manufacturing schedule.

Depending on the complexity of the part, folding may or may not be the first process for the metal sheet. It will be scheduled and arrive with the fold department at a pre-determined time before an operator will oversee the processing of the part on the specified machine. Once folded and checked, the part will then be moved, either to the next department for further processing, or to despatch for shipping.

What is a bend radius?

The bend radius when folding sheet metal refers to the inside radius of the bend and there are many factors to consider to achieve the correct bend radius in sheet metal.

Depending on the material, thickness and density, there will be a degree of “spring back” which must be accounted for. To counter act this the sheet must be “over bent” to achieve the correct internal radius after spring back.

What materials can be CNC Folded?

We can fold various materials including:

  • Mild steel
  • Coated steels
  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminium
  • Alloys up to 4100mm in length and 2.3mm thickness.

If you have a question regarding folding or any other sheet metal processes, please get in touch

Make an enquiry, upload a technical drawing

We work with businesses in a wide variety of sectors with capabilities to offer short and long runs of metal products.