Bending is a manufacturing process that produces a V-shape, U-shape, or channel shape along a straight axis in ductile materials, most commonly sheet metal. Commonly used equipment include box and pan brakes, brake presses, and other specialized machine presses. Typical products that are made like this are boxes such as electrical enclosures and rectangular duct-work. In press brake forming, a work piece is positioned over the die block and the die block presses the sheet to form a shape. Usually bending has to overcome both tensile stresses and compress stresses. When bending is done, the residual stresses cause the material to spring back towards its original position, so the sheet must be over-bent to achieve the proper bend angle.

There are three basic types of bending on a press brake, each is defined by the relationship of the end tool position to the thickness of the material. These three are Air Bending, Bottoming and Coining. The configuration of the tools for these three types of bending are nearly identical. A die with a long rail form tool with a radius tip that locates the inside profile of the bend is called a punch. Punches are usually attached to the ram of the machine by clamps and move to produce the bending force.

Air bending is a bending method forms material by pressing a punch (also called the upper or top die) into the material, forcing it into a bottom V-die, which is mounted on the press. The punch forms the bend so that the distance between the punch and the side wall of the V is greater than the material thickness (T). In bottoming, the sheet is forced against the V opening in the bottom tool. U-shaped openings cannot be used. Space is left between the sheet and the bottom of the V opening. In coining, the top tool forces the material into the bottom die with 5 to 30 times the force of air bending, causing permanent deformation through the sheet. There is little, if any, spring back.