As that first word infers, Progressive Stamping Die stations use a sequential approach. One operation is carried out, then the next stage is initiated, and then the next, and so on, until a fabrication run is complete. Being as how this is a chain of intimately connected actions, the slightest deviation in that chain could be devastating. Long story short, progressive stamping systems rely on precision, on the accurate placement and application of every single die cut and metal forming tool.
What Is Progressive Stamping?
The dies and metal fabricating stations here operate linearly. That means one die cutting machine subtracts a blank, then the next station cuts a second blank or places a bend, or other geometrical feature, on the same workpiece. On and on, that same item is exposed to a number of different forming operations. It’s an exquisitely precise process, at least it is when all of those workstations are properly aligned. It’s almost as if they’re one machine, working in concert, not a line of different machine stations. But that’s precisely how they all operate when they’re perfectly aligned.
Throwing a Wrench inthe Machine
If a production run uses parallel fabrication techniques, a defect is easy enough to correct. A maintenance team stops one machine, realigns a die or blank collecting mechanism, and that segment of the metalworking operation swings back into action. Linear fabrication stations are a little different, unfortunately. Think about those old Christmas lights that would stop working when a single bulb broke down. That’s one of the drawbacks of serial processing, and it’s a big problem. Mostly defeated in electrical circuitry, a progressive stamping operation is still locked into this systematic design. From the very first indent or blank cutting operation to the very last metal forming stage, every step must be accurately applied. Otherwise, the whole production run could end up in a waste bin.
The individual workpieces are mounted on a transfer die, which connects all the elements to a steel strip. An array of perfectly aligned holes drop into place. Still accurately lined up, blanks are added so that they frame the punched apertures. Lower tool sections and upper die tools engage and meet while creating blank boundaries. Fabricated bends and press-stamped cuts come next, then a timing mechanism carries the stock strip to a second station. Finally, at days end, the web-like sheet is loaded with geometrical detail, and every fabricated cut or bend is accurately applied on that single sheet. A natural productivity enhancer by design, this is a cost-effective route to high-volume fabrication effectiveness.