What is “Progressive die metal stamping”?
Progressive die metal stamping's advantage?
As the industrial age progressed a need for volumes of consistent, interchangeable, metal parts emerged. Metal stamping was born to fulfill this need. Progressive Die metal stamping was a significant improvement allowing machines to operate on a continuous cycle and producing a part with every stroke of the punch press machine without interruption. Progressive Die stamping is traced back to about 1900 and grew to become a widely practiced manufacturing technique in the 1950’s. Thousands, or millions, or exactly the same part could be manufactured quickly and efficiently.
While there have been many refinements to this art, the basic concepts that existed over a hundred years ago still prevail. Here are the basics.
A progressive die is a tool which fabricates metal again and again into a consistent manner. A progressive die has multiple stations, or places where work is performed and the finished part is created in steps as it progresses through the die.
We start with a strip of steel, or aluminum, copper, most any metal. The material is fed into the punch press, and through the progressive die, in exact increments, or progressions. Every stroke of the press feeds the same length of material.
The progressive die is placed into a punch press machine, a machine that has a ram which travels up and down in a very precise and controlled manner. There are many sizes and styles of punch presses which are often rated by how much force they can excerpt.
As the material “progresses” through the die different actions can be performed. We can punch holes through the material. Those holes can be round, or complex. We can bend parts of the metal at different angles. We can squish the material, or coin it, to make it thinner. We can draw the material, stretching it to change elevations along a plane. Progressive dies can also make multiple parts at the same time, thus yielding more than one part per stroke of the punch press. Progressive die designers are really only limited by their creativity, using the physical properties of the material to produce parts from the seemingly simple, to the very complex.
This part is made on a progressive die. Note how the strip changes as it “progresses” along the stations. You can see how the metal is manipulated into the final part.
Here is another example. This example shows complex holes as forms in this 11 inch diameter ring. Notice how the material is drawn up giving this part two intricate working planes. Exacting tolerances, holding dimensions to sometimes a few thousandths of an inch can be maintained using progressive die metal stamping.
Parts from the very small, like electrical components where a thousand pieces fit into the palm of your hand, to body panels for automobiles are made using progressive die metal stamping.
The speed at which progressive dies smash out parts can be lightning fast, to slow and deliberate, with each part being an exact duplicate of the part before.
Progressive die metal stamping is a very economical and time efficient method for producing large quantities of identical parts.