Sheetmetal/Metalfab equipment advice needed

We're setting up a metalshop for an undergrad mechanical engineering program-teaching students about metalwork and for students to use in their senior design projects. Sheetmetal isn't my strong suit so I'd appreciate advice. We're somewhat space-challenged. Here's what I've been thinking of:

Stomp shear: 52" so we can do full sheets. I've always liked Pexto and understand they and Tennsmith are great. All our other machinery is ~white or grey and it would be a plus for the shop to look ~uniform, all else equal. So we'll probably go w/ Pexto.

Pan/Box Brake: This is where I need the most advice since I've only used regular brakes. Probably looking for a 4'x16ga (space). The Magnabend is amazing but I hear it's weak with aluminum, and that's what we'll mostly use. I'm leaning towards R-W Connecticut U416 or the Proformer U4-4816. Proformer seems very customer friendly and they have some new features - radius bars, special fingers, more set-back, but it has a larger min reverse bend. Are these important? Anyone used their equipment? Proformer offers both bench and floor mounts - which is more useful? Also they have a 4'x14ga for a moderate markup.

Bench Punch: The R-W No. 17 seems about right for us, or the Heinrich #6. Heinrich has a little more throat. I've never used either - opins? Which dies tend to be most useful?

Corner Notcher: R-W 100 is $1000 and the 66 is $1900 (!). R-W says the 100 is only for notching and 1-sided shearing is not recommended (and students will inevitably use it both ways). But $1900 seems too high to me. Or Tennsmith for $900. Or Enco for $300. Not sure what to do here. If Enco is good enough I'd be fine with that for this item. ?

Beverly B-2: How well could this replace a corner notcher (drill the corner first)? Seems much more versatile, and cheaper. Or is it more for 'art' metalwork than engineering?

Hand tools: R-W Junior punch, aviation snips, jigsaw, etc.

Metal fab items: Tubing Notcher: I've always used a grinder but the safety issues aren't good for a student shop. How is the Lowbuck notcher for non-90 degree joints? Or are the hole-saw types preferred?

Tubing Bender: I hear the JD2 or ProTools are the favored ones now... ads of each? How long do they take to setup/breakdown (we would like to store it to save space)?

Plate Brake. The Lowbuck seems useful but is it needed if we already have a box/pan brake? I'm not sure how well a b/p works for, say,

3/16" x 3" steel strip?

Any thoughts on priorities for the above list? Thanks for reading my long post. All advice appreciated.

Thanks, David Malicky U. San Diego

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David Malicky
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