Press Brake/Tooling
BY Lynn Stanley, Senior Editor
Metamation’s MetaCAM FluxBEND offline software eliminates potential design flaws and prevents errors before parts are formed.
Fast, accurate bending software saves fabricator time and money on the production floor

he 2005 film “Dreamer” was inspired by the true story of a thoroughbred racehorse that broke her leg and came back to win the Turfway Breeders’ Cup. When asked about her bold decision to nominate the filly for the race, owner Cale Crane said, “It’s a long shot … but why not Sonador? Why not us?”

Brookings, South Dakota, residents Don Deibert and Jeff Jacobson asked themselves a similar question when they couldn’t find the right job shop to produce sheet metal assemblies for their employer, a local manufacturer. After drafting a business plan, the two men formed Counterpart Inc. in 1995, and began making parts for their former employer with little more than a drill press, cold saw and ironworker.

Over the last two decades, Counterpart has evolved into a fabricator with an 80,000-sq.-ft. greenfield facility and a team of 75 associates able to laser cut, punch, bend, spot, MIG or TIG weld, paint and powder finish. Materials processed include carbon steel, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, brass and plastic. The company ships to end markets from construction, rail, transportation and agriculture to food service, medical equipment and signage.

“Our growth has been based on dedication to our customers and a set of core values,” says Counterpart Engineering Manager Tom Jacobson. “Customers depend on us for consistent, reliable parts that are delivered on time and at a fair price.”

Though just a high school student when he joined Counterpart, Jacobson says his problem-solving skills brought him to metalforming. “It was fascinating to me what you could do with sheet metal.” He also appreciated the connections formed with customers “by helping them to understand how to add value to a part during the design/build stage,” he says.

Metamation Inc.’s MetaCAM Flux-BEND offline bending software has proved useful in helping Counterpart to eliminate potential design flaws and prevent errors during the bending process.

“We revamped MetaCAM FluxBEND in 2017 to provide manufacturers with an engine and interface built on speed with enhanced accuracy for CAD file processing,” says Metamation Vice President Anupam Chakraborty. “During testing, we found we could import 100 2D and 3D files in a range of supported formats in under 10 seconds without the need for OLE importing or plug-ins.”

A MetaCAM FluxBEND-generated program shows a press brake operator how a part needs to go into the machine.
Jacobson and his brother were introduced to the software at Fabtech. “We saw the advantages FluxBEND offered, and it was a stepping stone that allowed us to dig deeper into Industry 4.0 practices.”

MetaCAM FluxBEND can support 20-plus file formats along with a large selection of standard tool libraries and custom tooling. Importing CAD files to multi-bend and multi-stage setup can be calculated in 1 to 2 seconds. The software can also export adaptive geometry, setup reports and NC codes.

Because bending programs are written offline, Counterpart gains more up time on its press brakes.
“If a customer brings us a new part that looks like it might be difficult to bend, we form it up virtually in FluxBEND to see if there are any processing issues,” says Jacobson. “Before, we would just cut and bend parts and then realize we had a problem.”

The software makes quoting jobs more efficient because “we can determine the feasibility of producing the part before we make it.”

With FluxBEND, we can determine the feasibility of producing the part before we make it.
Tom Jacobson, Counterpart Inc.
“We create our press brake bending programs before the work order goes to the floor,” he says. “Then we know we don’t have any surprises. And we keep operators safe because we know they are using the correct tooling.”
Once a press brake operator pulls up the program, he or she can see exactly how the part needs to go into the machine. Counterpart has 10 press brake operators working different shifts. FluxBEND has introduced standardization to support best bending practices.

“Implementing FluxBEND-generated bending programs has driven standardization by helping our operators think alike,” Jacobson notes. “The bending process is no longer subjective to an individual press brake operator’s interpretation.

“At the same time, the software has helped to increase collaboration among our operators. Each of them is empowered to submit an engineering change for discussion. If it’s a good idea, we standardize our bending approach to it,” he notes.

The software’s step-by-step, intuitive program also makes it easy for Counterpart to train new employees. “Because the programs are proven, the learning curve is short.”

The push for smaller lot sizes and the large variety of part types and sizes that Counterpart forms demands the company continually look for ways to minimize scrap, boost throughput and shave minutes off its forming process.

“Because bending programs are written offline by a specialist, that means more up time for our press brakes,” explains Jacobson. “We bring in 2,000 new part numbers a year that are formed on five different press brakes. If the operators have to spend two to three minutes on programming, that time really adds up. FluxBEND has made us more efficient. And we know we’re going to get a good part the first time.”

Counterpart Inc.,
Brookings, South Dakota, 605/692-5952,
Metamation Inc.,
Hoffman Estates, Illinois, 775/826-1717,