Tool life and tool setup time are great areas of opportunity for fabricators because both can produce huge bottom line savings if the right tooling improvements are made to fit the work.
New tool designs provide CNC punching operators with easier ways to set jobs up faster while these new tools produce double, triple and even greater tool life than earlier tool designs. Equally significant, the output range of CNC punch presses utilizing these new tool systems is extended while part quality is improved significantly.
Some great examples of these tooling improvements are found at New Standard Corporation (Mount Joy, PA), where the diligent management of punching operations has resulted in huge savings in tool setup time while tool life has more than doubled.
New Standard Corporation is an ISO 9001-2000 certified, QS 9000 registered large scale contract metal fabrication and stamping company that serves customers in the appliance, heating, air conditioning, truck and bus industries, with brands such as Caterpillar and Black and Decker.
For these companies, New Standard fabricates metal components and assemblies that are complex, large and frequently require heavy tonnage presses.
Utilizing over 100 presses in three different plant locations that range from 5 to 2,700 ton capacities, the company employs over 400 workers, including 50 toolmakers. Its capabilities include laser processing, tapping, drilling, robotic welding and recently expanded CNC punching.
The Punching Challenge: Shorter Part Runs, Up To 30 Tons
Of Punched Metal A Week, Frequent Job Changeover
“We expanded our CNC punching capabilities to meet customer needs for shorter runs of a wide range of parts,? reports Terry Herman, Lead Programmer for New Standard. ?We couldn?t justify die sets for these shorter runs, so we purchased a Trumpf Trumatic 2020 to handle this work at our Mount Joy facility.”
Herman continues, “We needed a really robust tool system that would match up well with the wide range of materials we punch while giving us the fast and easy setups needed for these shorter run projects.”
Bruce Gamler, a sales engineer for Mate Precision Tooling (Anoka, MN), told Herman about the NEXT tool system, which sounded good for New Standard. “They had used Mate previously in a Murata Weidemann and a Trumpf press in their Rocky Mountain plant,” explains Gamler. “That performance gave them confidence because of the tooling?s long life and our service support, so they decided to give the new NEXT system a try.”
New Standard punches hot rolled, cold rolled, galvanized and stainless steel, plus aluminum. Material thickness ranges from .025 to .179 in of various steel sheets to .325 in aluminum. Most sheets are 48 x 96 in, with some as large as 48 x 120 in. The number of parts punched per sheet ranges from 6 to over 300.
The tool system has proven to be ideal for these widely varied punching requirements because the tooling handles both thick and thin, hard and soft metals with high quality results.
NEXT punch inserts are made of either M4 and M2 high speed steel (depending on insert size) designed for extreme toughness, while punching clean edges and perfectly shaped part features. M4 and M2 tool steels are highly abrasion and adhesion resistant to maximize the interval between regrinds.
For added tool life, the insert tooling system allows the introduction of a shim between the punch insert and the punch holder. After 0.118 in (3.00 mm) has been removed from the punch insert from regrinding, the punch assembly returns to its original length instead of requiring replacement. This means one insert will outlast several conventional punches.
Another design feature contributing to longer tool life is the Stress Free? relief feature in NEXT dies that eliminates die cracking while maximizing die strength. Dies also feature a uniform corner clearance radius for rectangles and square shaped tools, thereby reducing tool wear, eliminating pip-marks and improving overall piece part quality.
“Our calculations show that with standard tooling we got between 50,000 and 100,000 hits, but with this new tooling we got between 200,000 and 700,000 hits before tool sharpening was needed,” reports James Anthony, head press operator for New Standard.
He adds, “These numbers are part and material dependent, of course, but the difference between standard tool life and the new tool life was dramatically better.”
Tool Alignment Fixture Eliminated, Facilitates Faster Job Setups
“Conventional tooling for a Trumpf Turmatic 2020 requires carefully setting the punches with a special fixture and checking them for alignment,” says Anthony. “This requires operator training so it is done correctly in order to eliminate any chance of a misaligned tool that could damage the tool, the machine and the part being punched.”
Gamler showed them no special fixture or tedious setup process is needed with NEXT to get the proper tool alignment. “We?ve cut our setup time by as much as 85 percent versus the old tooling,” states Anthony.
The reason is that NEXT holders combine the functions of a conventional punch shank and alignment ring into a single assembly. The “keyed” integral alignment design of the holder provides precise tooling orientation and makes installing the punch fast without the need for fixtures or other setup devices.
Because the holder is self-aligning, no special operator skill or training is needed to insert and position tool components. In addition, the tooling system is designed with interchangeable, highly abrasion and adhesion resistant punch inserts, all of which install similarly and quickly into NEXT insert punch holders.
Top Press Speeds Up To 900 Hits A Minute Using NEXT Tool System
“We are able to get maximum part output using this system without compromising part quality or tool life,” Herman remarks. “The parts range from components for air conditioner assemblies and truck battery boxes to gas pump frame assemblies. The new tools do the punching sequences with preset conventional tools used for the extrude, countersink, number stamp, emboss, lance, flatten extrude safety hems and louver operations on these various components.”
According to Herman, the Trumatic press is put to the test as much as the NEXT tools for this array of work. The press runs at both slow and fast speeds, depending on the blank size and the material. With a maximum hit rate of 900 spm, the Trumatic 2020 operates regularly between 420 and 900 spm depending on the blank size configuration and the material.
According to Anthony, under these conditions the tooling gets a good workout but still outperforms conventional Trumpf tooling, with better quality punched parts and more than double the tool life.
An additional feature Anthony liked about NEXT was that the system is fully compatible with existing strippers and dies. This allows using up existing tool components and wasting nothing while “phasing in” NEXT tool components as they are needed.
“By introducing the NEXT system to our Trumpf presses, we are able to further reduce tool setup time, extend tool life and press performance,” says Herman.
New Standard Corporation, 74 Commerce Way, York, PA 17406-8038, 717-757-9450,www.newstandard.com.
Trumpf, Inc., 111 Hyde Road, Farmington, CT 06032, 860-255-6000, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.us.trumpf.com.
Mate Precision Tooling, 1295 Lund Boulevard, Anoka, MN 55303, 763-421-0230, Fax: 763-421-0285, email@example.com, www.mate.com.
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