Nowadays, when people talking about press brake, they mainly refer to the hydraulic bending machine for sheet metal bending.

However, do you know why such a bending machine is been called press brake”?

This question also confused me for quite a long period of time. Sometimes I even wondering does this term really right to define the hydraulic bending machine.

Please note that the term press break is completely wrong cause nothing is broken or shattered.A press brake doesn’t “step on the brakes” to bend, so why is it called a press brake? A brief history of a few words reveals the answer.

In Old English, the verb brake” was brecan, and in Middle English it was breken. Centuries later the past participle of “brake” evolved to “broken.” All this is to say that when you look at the etymology, “break” and “brake” are closely related.

The term “brake,” as used in modern sheet metal fabrication, comes from the Middle English verb breken, or break, which meant to bend, change direction, or deflect. You could also “break” when you drew back the string of a bow to shoot an arrow. You could even break a beam of light by deflecting it with a mirror.

Now we know the verb brake” refers to a machine that bends.and what about the press? where does the word “press”—describing the machines we know today—come from?
Press was used as a noun around 1300, meaning “crushed” or “crowded.” By the late 14th century, the “press” had become a device for squeezing clothing or extracting juice from grapes and olives.

Since then, press has evolved into a machine or machine that applies force by pressing. In manufacturers’ applications, punch presses and molds can be called “presses” that apply pressure to metal plates and bend them.

That’s where the “press brake” term comes from.

According to different power that actuates the machine, different tools are used to realize the bend action, different types of the bends that produced by the machine, you can get a variety of different names for the sheet metal bending machine.

A box and pan brake, also called a finger brake, performs the types of bends needed to form boxes and pans by forming sheet metal around segmented fingers attached to the upper jaw of the machine

A cornice brake (named for the cornices it can produce) and its modern leaf brake cousin use an upward-swinging leaf, or apron, to actuate the bend

As bending technology has progressed, we’ve added modifiers. We’ve gone from manual press brakes to mechanical press brakes, pneumatic press brakes, hydraulic press brakes, and electric press brakes. Still, no matter what you call it, a press brake is merely a machine for crushing, squeezing, or—for our purposes—bending.