High precision press brake tools are essential for the metalworking industry, providing the necessary precision and durability for bending and shaping sheet metal. These tools are crafted from a variety of materials, including 4140, 4130, S7, A2, and D2 steels, each known for their unique properties and performance characteristics. However, hardening these tools presents significant challenges due to their lack of mass, which often leads to serious distortion, especially in longer pieces.

The Challenge of Hardening Press Brake Tools

Traditional hardening methods such as Induction and Flame hardening can cause substantial distortion in press brake tooling. This is particularly problematic for long tools, where uneven heating and cooling can lead to warping. The need for precise dimensions and smooth operation in press brake tooling makes any level of distortion unacceptable, as it can affect the accuracy and quality of the final product.

Laser Hardening: A Solution to Distortion

Laser hardening has emerged as a superior method for hardening press brake tools, particularly on the male radii where the tool contacts the sheet metal. This advanced technique focuses the laser energy precisely on the surface, achieving the desired hardness with minimal distortion.

Synergy, a leader in this field, has demonstrated remarkable results with laser hardening. For tools less than 10 inches in length, the recorded distortion is less than 0.001 inches. Even for longer tools, measuring up to 10 feet, the distortion is maintained at less than 0.025 inches on each side. This minor distortion can be further reduced to zero by adding counterweights at either end of the tool, ensuring perfect alignment and performance.

10ft Long Laser Hardened and Polished Punch and Cavity


Benefits of Laser Hardening

  1. Minimal Distortion: Laser hardening results in significantly lower distortion compared to traditional methods. The precision of laser technology ensures that the tool’s dimensions remain accurate, eliminating the need for post-hardening grinding.
  2. Consistent Hardness: Laser hardening provides consistent hardness throughout the profile of the tool. This uniformity is crucial for maintaining the tool’s performance and longevity.
  3. Cost Savings: By reducing or eliminating the need for post-grinding, laser hardening offers substantial cost savings for die makers. The efficiency of the process translates into lower overall manufacturing costs.

Hardness of Press Brake Tooling

The hardness achieved through laser hardening are impressive, providing the necessary strength and durability for high-precision tasks:

  • 4140 Steel: 58-60 HRC
  • 4130 Steel: 58-60 HRC
  • A2 Steel: 58-62 HRC
  • S7 Steel: 58-62 HRC
  • D2 Steel: 60-62 HRC

Typical hardness depth: 0.040″-0.060″ (1 mm-1.5 mm)

These hardness levels ensure that the press brake tools can withstand the rigors of repeated use, maintaining their precision and effectiveness over time.

Laser Hardened A2 Steel Press Brake Tooling


Laser heat treating has revolutionized the process of hardening high precision press brake tools. By offering high hardening, improved stamping accuracy, and extended die longevity, this method ensures consistent performance and significant cost savings. The minimal distortion achieved through laser hardening makes it an ideal choice for maintaining the integrity and functionality of press brake tooling.

In an industry where precision and reliability are paramount, laser hardening stands out as a cutting-edge solution that meets the demanding standards of modern manufacturing.

Learn more about laser heat treating process here.