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News > Case Studies > Higher quality punches save time and reduce production costs.

Higher quality punches save time and reduce production costs.

Die Makers Manufacturing Corporation in Hazel Green, Wis. Is a full-service tool and die shop, specializing in long- and short-run production for industries such as automotive, agricultural and appliance, among others.

August 1, 2013

Recently, the company was faced with a particularly challenging stamping application producing a precision chain product for one of its customers in the food processing industry.

The application required the use of a .3225 inch round punch and compound die running at 75 strokes per minute to stamp holes in .095 inch 316L stainless steel with less than .001 clearance.

Die Makers had been using a standard punch manufactured with M2 tool steel but was experiencing significant galling that required frequent downtime to sharpen and replace the punches.

“We were getting severe galling on the punches. It was peeling the coating off almost like you’d peel a banana,” said Jacob Walsh, production manager for Die Makers. “If we sharpened the punches down and really tried to cut the head back to get as much of the life out of the punch as we could, we would get somewhere between 2,000 and 10,000 pieces.”

Walsh explained the application and showed the worn punches to Scott Riley, the company’s sales engineer at Wilson Tool, who suggested trying punches manufactured using CPM3V tool steel and coated with Wilson Tool’s exclusive Optima® coating.

With a micro hardness of 3,500, Optima coating far exceeds the hardness levels that can be achieved with conventional tool steels and typically outlasts untreated tools by as much as seven times.

The combination of CPM3V and Optima coating increased the number of hits to between 25,000 and 40,000. Using this same tool steel and Wilson Tool’s premium OptimaX coating, the number of hits was further increased to between 40,000 and 60,000 pieces.

OptimaX is Wilson Tool’s premium coating. It’s a two-part coating process that provides all the hardness of the Optima coating, plus added lubricity to reduce galling even more.

However, it was the final combination of tool steel and coatings that Die Makers tested that proved to be the unquestionable winner. The punches were manufactured with Wilson Tool’s exclusive Ultima® M4 premium tool steel and coated with OptimaX.

Punches and dies made from Ultima M4 tool steel have significantly greater wear resistance, minimizing common downtime problems like breaking, chipping, cracking and tool fatigue. This greatly reduces the amount of time spent sharpening or replacing tooling.

Not only did these new punches produce 110,000 hits, they did it without ever needing to be sharpened. The only reason Die Makers took them out of the machine was because they reached the end of the order.

“When I pulled these punches out at 110,000 hits, you could definitely see where the coating was beginning to wear off,” said Walsh. “But they’re still making good parts, holding their edge and not throwing a burr. There’s no reason somebody couldn’t sharpen them, throw them back in and possibly run another 90,000 parts on them.”

According to Walsh, even if you count out the cost of the punches, it takes a lot of time to load, unload and sharpen the punches. The cost of their labor is more than the cost of the higher quality punches.

“Obviously, we’ve dramatically increased efficiency, but the quality is also better and our costs are reduced,” said Walsh. “The biggest benefit is that we can put these dies in and run them and get good parts for so long. We can keep this press running continuously without having to replace the punch every ten thousand hits.”

As profit margins shrink, the ability to put in a tool and not have to worry about it again until the job is done is a great benefit to fabricators as well as their customers. Die Makers has been able to pass a good portion of their own cost savings on to their customers.

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