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Review: Microfold Brake
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Category: Tool Review

I am a demanding user who values quality and well-made items that are backed with good customer service. I make my own tools so I have a different perspective than the typical consumer. Designs are called out for what they are whether good, bad, or indifferent. Trademarks and copyrights are the intellectual property of their respective owners and used for reference and/or informational purposes.

FINAL RATINGS (0=bad to 10=good, YES/NO, N/A, or text; hover over topic for specific information)
  • Item being reviewed: Microfold brake corrugator What's this all about anyway? This makes a corrugated pattern in thin metal provided it is annealed and one of the softer ones like gold, silver, or copper. Or so it claims.
  • Manufacturer: Generic These are all made by the same company for all purposes. One may look different than the other because of the handle, knobs, or color.
  • Retail price: $200 Supplied by the manufacturer, discounts are likely to be found with some searching.
  • Appearance: 7 Simply, how does it look. It is somewhat subjective but clean lines, professional appearance, etc. It looks like it will do the job and it's heavy, so no mistaking it for a lightweight stamped metal waste of materials.
  • Packaging: 5 Is it thrown into a box or packed like a new smartphone? This came in a box with a set of spare rollers for a different "pitch" corrugation effect.
  • Initial set-up time: Minimal After removing contents from box, how long before the first use. It is ready to go minus some cleaning of grease.
  • "Plug and play": Just about Is everything included or do you need to purchase additional equipment, supplies, or parts. It requires a vise or system to secure it to a workbench.
  • Additional costs or equipment: Should be none Not included with the purchase, what else will lighten your wallet This requires nothing. I had to rework some parts. The knobs had poor threading so I replaced them with a regular bolt with a fender washer knob. I also replaced the locknuts with stainless wing nuts so I wouldn't need a wrench every time I wanted to adjust it.
  • Set-up time for each use: Minutes From being stored properly and completely, is it grab-and-go or much more involved. This takes virtually no time.
  • Storage provisions: Cardboard box Factory provisions to store equipment when not in use. For something as expensive as this set, the cheap, flimsy cardboard box is unacceptable. I repurposed a latched metal case that fits perfectly.
  • Storage time: Seconds Time it takes to store it safely and completely, cleaned and lubed, liquids drained, and ready to go. It's best to wipe clean and apply oil to prevent rusting.
  • Ongoing costs: None Replacement parts from wear-and-tear, expendables, supplies, etc. This item will need, or should need, nothing.
  • Maintenance: Minimal What is expected to keep the tool working properly: periodic maintenance, lubing, etc. Some light oil on suspect areas should suffice.
  • Usability: Simple Is it a pain in the ass or complicated to use. Other than adjusting the rollers, which seems to be perfunctory since it doesn't work anyway, just turn the handle.
  • Functionality: 2 How well does it do its job. While the rollers are about 8" wide, any piece of metal wider than about 3" will not corrugate fully no matter what you do. Major POS considering the price! I forgot to mention that the rollers don't even align along their length (not parallel to each other or the frame, egads).
  • Robustness: N/A Durability, how well-constructed or flimsy it is. Since it really doesn't work as it should, does it really matter how robust or well-made it might be?
  • Value: 1 Based on the price-vs-performance-vs-function, is it worth it. Not worth it whatsoever! Really disappointing especially considering the cost.
  • Adjustability: 2 Can it be easily modified to accommodate different situations. These have two sets of rollers to theoretically get two different corrugation widths. Sure, you can adjust the roller spacing but unless the rollers are basically touching, it will work even less than its substandard performance.
  • Meeting expectations: 1 Does it work as well as others say or the manufacturer claims. This is a far cry from truthful advertising.
  • Innovation: 3 The ingenuity of the design or concept. Nothing special here but it's nice to think that something like this would work.
  • Results: 2 This may or may not replace a manual method or previous way of doing something. In any case, what is the quality of the finished product or process. Anything below 6 - realistically, an 8 - is not jewelry quality. Again, as long as it's super thin and not more than 2" wide, it probably will work.
  • Timeliness: 8 How do the results compare to the amount of time it took. If it replaces a manual method, what are the differences. This effect is difficult to duplicate any other way as quickly as a rolling mill could but you'll have to find a different way if you expect satisfactory results.
  • Skill level: None What mechanical aptitude or skills does one need to set it up and use it. Basically, tighten the rollers until they touch and turn the handle.
  • Documentation: None Does it have detailed instructions, whether written (which it should no matter what) or on-line. These had nothing with them. At least give something with a set this expensive for cryin' out loud!
  • Customer service: N/A How quickly they respond, can you speak with someone on the phone, are their answers satisfactory. This product is made by a no-name company in China or India so the best you'll get is the distributor or retailer who can only apologize and hopefully give you a refund.
  • Comparative: N/A If other machines or tools are available within the general price range that do the same thing, how does this compare. For about 10x as much you could buy a Durston corrugating rolling mill or for 1/5 the price get a Gill tube wringer. A glutton for useless, ineffective, poorly made tools would buy the zig zag roller, but it won't corrugate.
  • Recommendation: Buy at your peril My personal assessment of the device - basically, would I buy it again knowing what I learned about it. If it's less than 2" wide and super thin an d super annealed - even then, it's a stretch - maybe it'll work.

Final thoughts: It definitely does not function well and there is no way to modify or rework the piece. The solution? Purchase a cheap import rolling mill for about $150 and have two sets of rollers made for a few hundred more: one with lengthwise ridges and one with horizontal (or multiple sets with different corrugation "pitches"). There'd be no limit on length or direction provided the metal fit in the mill (except diagnol). This is the option I'm looking into.

Posted by M: April 26, 2023

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