Updated: Nov 9
Gone are the days of shaping metal through forging. Over the decades, metal rolling/bending processes and machines have evolved. Fabricators are using metal forming machines for several reasons. Most importantly, to make the process easy and affordable.
The two types of bending/ rolling machines that metal fabricators currently use are manual plate rolling machines and automatic plate rolling machines.
This blog explains the differences between both machines while highlighting their respective advantages and disadvantages.
So, let's dive right in, but before that, let’s briefly look at both machines.
What is a Manual Plate Bending/ Rolling Machine?
A manual plate rolling machine, also called a manual sheet bending machine, is a tool used to bend metals into shapes and curves. You must have seen artisans create intricate metal artwork and sculptures using these machines.
As the name suggests, manual plate bending machines operate manually and don't require electricity or hydraulic power. Small-scale fabricators generally use these. It is a versatile tool used in industries like construction and agricultural equipment.
The machine consists of several parts working together to bend metal sheets. The key manual bending machine parts include the bending blade, the clamping bar and the handle. Each part performs its task - from bending to applying the required force on the metal sheet.
Manual Plate Bending Machine
What is an Automatic Plate Bending/ Rolling Machine?
An automatic sheet metal bending device is also called a computer-controlled (CNC) plate rolling machine. Used worldwide by metal fabricators to shape metal sheets into cones, cylinders, and curved shapes.
These automatic bending machines deliver sophisticated, cutting-edge and unique products. Designed to shape heavy metal products that require precision and accuracy, including ships and metal containers.
Different automatic plate bending machines, such as a 3-roll plate bending machine or a 4-roll plate rolling machine, have their own mechanisms and working principles. For example, a 3-roll machine has three rollers.
Automatic Plate Bending Machine
Difference Between Manual Plate Bending and Automatic Plate Bending Machine
Have you ever seen sugar-cane vendors on the streetside? Some have traditional sugarcane crusher machines - manually churning sugarcanes with handheld churners. At the same time, some vendors use automatically operated machines.
Both machines work the same, with the same product and output. But each one has its pros and cons. In the same way, manual and automatic plate bending machines work the same but have respective advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s take a look.
Manual Plate Bending Machine: Advantages and Disadvantages
Manual plate rolling machines are increasingly popular in small-scale operations, proven to save money. However, like every tool, these machines also have certain limitations. Below are some important advantages and limitations.
Advantages of a Manual Plate Rolling Machine
Budget-Friendly: One of the key advantages of using a manual bending machine is that they are cost-effective. They are cheaper when compared to hydraulic plate bending machines. Ideal for small-scale workshops.
Simple to Use: These machines are simple to use due to their relatively simple design and operations. Making them suitable for beginners and operators without technical expertise.
Portability: Manual plate rolling machines are lightweight and do not require electrical power. Transportation of manual machines becomes easy with their compact design.
Versatile: Fabricators can use the machines to bend metal sheets into shapes as required. They are suitable for shaping metals, including aluminum, copper and stainless steel.
End Applications: Civil construction companies, Mining Industries, and Cement Plants
Certification: In order to buy these machines, you do need your seller/ company to be ISO-certified.
Disadvantages of a Manual Plate Rolling Machine
Less Precision: One of the main limitations of a manual sheet metal bending device is that they are unsuitable for obtaining complex bends. Thus, they may not be as precise as automatic bending machines.To
Time-Consuming: Manual bending machines need manual labor. From inserting a sheet into the machine to re-rolling. For example, three to four people unscrew the rolls for re-rolling a plate.
Moreover, manual plate rolling machines cannot perform pre-pinching. A process of bending the metal plate before rolling by placing it between the rolls in a plate curving machine.
The process takes longer as you need to use a hydraulic press on both sides before rolling for pre-pinching. This limitation affects the time of operations, thus impacting overall productivity.
Not ideal for Heavy-Duty bending: Designed to shape thin metal plates, these machines take longer to bend heavy or thick sheets. Heavy or thick metal sheets also require more force to bend and people to operate the machine. By the time one roll takes its shape, you can use an automatic plate curving machine to shape approximately three to four rolls.
High-Volume Production: Manual bending machines are not the best solution for high-volume bending jobs. Due to the same reason, the machines demand more time and extra workforce.
Re-Rolling: Passing a metal sheet multiple times inside a metal plate bender to achieve the desired shape or curve. To make sure that there are no flat bends on the sheet. Indeed, manual plate bending machines perform this task.
However, after rolling a shell once, the operators need to unscrew the machine, insert the sheet and roll it back. You must repeat the process on both sides of the sheet several times to achieve the required bend.
Looking at the pros and cons of manual plate rolling machines, it is evident that they are an ideal option for small-scale businesses. They are also perfect for time-saving and less meticulous tasks.
But, if you are willing to step up your operations, consider investing in automatic plate bending machines. Ready to know about the pros and cons of automatic metal plate benders?
Let’s have a look.
Automatic Plate Bending Machine: Advantages and Disadvantages
The demand for automatic bending machines is steadily rising due to an increased demand for metallic components. These machines make heavy-metal-forming jobs easy. However, they have some drawbacks, too.
Advantages of a Manual Plate Rolling Machine
Efficiency, Precision and Result: Automatic plate bending machines deliver large bending projects precisely. The machines operate quickly and consistently, ensuring accurate results for complex shapes and curves.
Reduced manual labor: Since the machines are automated, each machine requires less workforce for various tasks, such as welders. One machine does it all. At most, one or two professional technicians are enough to complete the task.
Ideal for heavy-duty bending: Automatic plate bending machines can easily process thicker sheets. These machines are designed to handle heavy-metal shaping for industrial applications, such as aerospace and automobiles.
Time-Savings: One of the greatest advantages of automatic bending machines is the amount of time it saves in manufacturing. With programmable settings and features, the machines remove the need for manual fixes.
Re-Rolling: Unlike manual plate bending machines, automatic plate rolling machines perform re-rolling more precisely and efficiently. The machine's programmed process ensures that the machine accurately shapes/ bends the sheet every time.
End Applications: Shipping industry, Oil tanks, and Rocket shell
Disadvantages of an Automatic Plate Rolling Machine
Higher investment: Automatic plate bending machines need a hefty investment. The machines are more expensive to purchase and maintain than manual plate rolling machines.
Professional knowledge: Automatic machines' advanced automation and features require a skilled workforce. Operators need proper and professional technical proficiency to operate, set up and maintain the machines.,
Space and Size: Since the machines are huge, they require proper and more setup space, which is a constraint for smaller workshops. Moreover, due to their size, it becomes difficult to change locations.
Maintenance: Automatic plate bending machines are more complex than manual ones. They need intricate maintenance procedures, leading to a higher maintenance cost.
Certification: To purchase an automatic plate bending machine, you need to ensure that the seller holds an ISO certification. Similar to the one you can see below.
Himalaya Machinery is ISO Certified
Manual vs. Automatic Plate Rolling Machines: Side-By-Side Comparison
Based on the above-mentioned advantages and disadvantages, here is a side-by-side comparison of both the machines: Manual Plate Bending Machine and Automatic Plate Bending Machine.
Manual Plate Bending Machine
Automatic Plate Bending Machines
Manually operated using hands
Automatically operated using hydraulic power and programmable settings
Slow speed and less consistent
Operates quickly and consistently
Not suitable for complex bends
Ensures accurate complex shapes with precision
More affordable upfront cost
Higher initial investment
Suitable for beginners, and operators with less technical expertise
Require professional technicians.
Not ideal for high-volume bending jobs
Suitable for delivering heavy-duty bending jobs.
Type of Bending:
Used for bending thin metal plates
Used for bending/shaping heavy and thick metal plates.
Needs manual fixes, simple maintenance procedures
Doesn’t require manual fixes, complex maintenance process
Compact and space-efficient
Requires more space for larger machines.
Longer compared to automatic machines.
Faster than manual ones.
Done outside using a hydraulic press.
Already a part of the bending process inside the machine.
Ribbed bars and channels in the construction industry
Aerospace, Silos and Oil tanks
Do Consider the factors for both manual and automatic plate rolling machines before you make that purchase. Choose the one that fits your workshop needs.
Your requirements may vary depending on your specific fabrication needs, like the budget and complexity of your bending projects.
We hope this blog helped you understand the pros and cons of manual and automatic plate rolling machines. Let us know if you have any questions regarding other metal shaping products. Himalaya Machinery would love to cater to your needs.