State-of-the-art strides in CAD/CAM technology have spurred die and punch manufacturing developments at an unprecedented pace. In light of these technologically-driven tool forming developments, we feel an obligation to check out some of the more promising tech trends. Starting with conventional high-quality punch manufacturing workstations, follow us now as we look at new ways to apply Computer-Aided Design instructions to high-tolerance tool forms and material structures.

Heavily Detailed Subtractive Tool Metal Processing

Old-style punches and dies used a few impact points and punch indentation marks. An unadorned centre punch, a slender pin or drift punch, these unsophisticated designs didn’t need surplus metal elements, nor did their matching dies. With engineered mechanical systems now hosting hundreds of computer-formed components, intricate die and punch geometries are being stipulated by demanding clients. They stamp out convoluted blanks, leave behind complex sheet metal cut-outs, and resolve finally as high-tolerance tool modules, not as basic single-point tooling rods. In order to create such intricate workings out of dense tool metals, parts that mandate nth degree engineering tolerances, no amount of human error can be permitted. Skilled though a journeyman worker might be, this is a job for an error-free CAD/CAM workstation.

When CAD Tech Meets Additive Manufacturing Production Systems

Before going any further, let’s present this quick acronym refresher. CAD technology, also known as Computer-Aided Design, converts digital models into machine code. The instructions zip down a data cable and manoeuvre expensive 5-axis cutting and drilling machines. The whole process is automatically governed by a CPU powered workstation. CAM, or Computer-Aided Manufacturing, is an umbrella term used to describe a complex manufacturing framework. The computers, the machine code and automated machinery, even the software that generates the parts models, they’re all part of a CAM setup. That’s a conventional system architecture, but the technology is always evolving. Using additive manufacturing methods, which replace 5-axis subtractive machining, wire or powder-filled reservoirs deposit thin layers of metal or plastic, which accumulate to create intricate parts outlines and detailed component geometries.

Covered in this post, the importance of CAD/CAM applied punch and die forming was explored first. The tech eliminates human errors and repeatedly produces complex punch shapes and die templates. Moving on, the opportunity was taken to expand on this theme. Sure, 5-axis fabrication equipment still dominates tool manufacturing technology. Even so, that situation could be about to experience a big change. Additive technology is on the rise in CAD engineering. Wire spools and powder discharges are melted and deposited by these processes to create more precise punch architectures. Again, subtractive fabrication methods rule, but additive manufacturing techniques are on the rise.