Author Archives: johnatmetalproducts

Auxiliary Punch Press Equipment

Additional Equipment for Punch Presses

Now that we’ve covered the basics with punch presses, ranging from frame and power differences, we look to the outside of the press before we look to the inside. There are a handful of machines that are required to have along with a punch press to run a punch press to its full capabilities. Today we’ll take a look at three of the main auxiliary equipment pieces to add with a punch press, and in the coming weeks we’ll take a closer look at each individual machine.

Punch Press Un-Coilers

Cradle Uncoiler

This cradle uncoiler releases material as it is pulled against the yellow actuating arm. The amount that is fed is capable of being changed depending on the running product’s need.

Punch Press Un-Coilers are very important, as this is where the raw material begins its journey into the press. Coils are loaded into the un-coilers and are fed into the press by a variety of techniques. Some un-coilers are motorized and control the amount of material that is fed at a time, whereas some have no electrical or motor functions and feed out as much material as is being pulled. All styles of un-coilers have their strengths and weaknesses based on their set-up that we’ll take a more in-depth look at next week.

Material Straighteners

This material straightener eliminates coil-set from coiled raw material.

This material straightener eliminates coil-set from coiled raw material.

Material straighteners are needed depending on what thickness of material is being used, and how far the material is being fed. Since the coils of material have been bound in their wrapped position, some heavier gauge materials tend to have a curvature to it that will need to be straightened out before hitting with a die. The same goes for a die with more than two or three hit progressions. If material is needed to travel through so many progressions, it is important that the material is as straight as it can be going into the press.


Air Feeder

This air feeder feeds copper-clad material into a mechanical press. Two sliding pieces alternate movement to feed the material into the press.

Material feeders are vital to a smoothly running punch press. A feeder determines the amount of material that is fed into the press, so having a consistent set amount of material specified for each product is very important. There are a couple of different styles of feeders, and determining which feeder is best for your situation can vastly improve run time efficiency.

Next week we’ll start off by looking at the different styles of material un-coilers.

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up: March 31st, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up

Heading into the last day of the month, and the last second stretch to finish up tax filings, accountants across the country are making their final push to make it through another busy season. As for the rest of the country, job creation numbers have looked good so far in this first quarter, but some say that the job numbers aren’t the biggest determinant of a recovered economy. On to the links:

There are some of the biggest headlines in manufacturing for March 31st, 2014. Here’s to a productive start to your week!

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up: March 17th, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up

The third week of March always seems to mark the beginning of IT managers across the country slowing down their bandwidth to try to keep everyone focused on work, as opposed to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. However, heading into this week there’s some good news for home buyers and factories, but some skepticism amongst home builders. On to the links:

Get those brackets done at lunch today, the madness begins on Wednesday. Here’s to a productive start to your week!

Mechanical vs Hydraulic Punch Presses

What’s the Difference Between a Mechanical and Hydraulic Press?

While serving the same purpose and having, mostly, the same general anatomy, there are some key differences between mechanical and hydraulic punch presses. The main structures that we discussed two weeks ago (Straight Side and C-Frame) can still be applied to both mechanical and hydraulic presses, however the difference lies with how the energy to cycle the ram is created.

Mechanical Power

A mechanical press generates its power, mechanically, meaning that a motor is connect in a variety of ways to a crankshaft that cycles the ram for one complete operation. The motor that generates the momentum is connected to a flywheel via belts, and in simple punch presses, is connected to the crankshaft and controlled by an attached clutch. In some bigger punch presses, the flywheel will attach to a pinion that attaches to an additional gear that rotates the crankshaft. In Straight Side presses, there will typically be two pinions and gears that run the singular crankshaft.

Mechanical Press

Here a mechanical press is continuously running through cycles. The main flywheel at the right feeds the clutch the power from the motor to cycle the crankshaft continuously.

Benefits of Mechanical Punch Presses

  • Speed. The speed in which mechanical presses can be ran are higher than hydraulic presses. This allows for higher production and efficiency.
  • Consistency of tonnage at bottom of the stroke. With a mechanical press, you’re maximum tonnage delivery happens in a smaller window as compared to a hydraulic press. However, this again helps attribute to the speed at which mechanical presses can be ran because you know the absolute limit of what your press will be hitting at the bottom of its stroke.

Hydraulic Power

Hydraulic Press

The hydraulic punch press has no flywheel, and runs via pressure from hydraulic fluid.

Hydraulic punch presses run off of pressurized hydraulic fluid, just like any hydraulic machinery would. The ram of a hydraulic press is hooked up to a cylinder that receives hydraulic fluid via a motor that pumps the fluid.

Hydraulic presses tend to be used for slower, deep draw parts. The reason hydraulic presses are used for deep draw parts is because the hydraulic power allows for a more consistent source of pressure in a larger range of the stroke, as compared to a mechanical press. Hydraulic presses may be used for faster running parts as well, however, the ability to run deep draw parts is diminished the faster the press is ran. Ensuring that the proper amount of force is applied at the bottom of the stroke is crucial as well, to avoid over exertion of the material causing ripping and potential damage to the die and press.

Hydraulic Press Ram

Here is the ram of a hydraulic press. As you can see, there the tubing connecting directly to the ram that forces in hydraulic fluid to operate the punch press.

Benefits of Hydraulic Punch Presses

  • Better forming and drawing capabilities. Hydraulic presses have a wider window within the stroke path of the stroke because the compressed air requires less motion to exert its full force compared to a rotating motor and flywheel.
  • Better for smaller runs.
  • Shut height variations don’t affect the force that can be applied.

Both mechanical and hydraulic presses have their strengths and weaknesses, but factoring in the different parts and functions you can create with a die, both styles of presses will always have a place to be used.

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up: March 10th, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round-up

As most of the US is slowly melting from our un-expected extended winters, and starting to look a little more like spring, economic news has been good so far. As spring continues to come, and collegiate basketball craziness increases, there’s some decent news for potential home buyers in this upcoming housing sales season. On to the links:

That does it for this morning, here’s to a productive start of your week.

General Anatomy of a Mechanical Punch Press

Anatomy of a Punch Press

Last week we familiarized ourselves with the two main styles of punch presses (C-Frame and Straight Side), so now we want to touch on some of the key interior parts of a punch press. We’ll focus on the main working pieces that are most commonly found with mechanical presses.

Mechanical Flywheel


The flywheel is highlighted on the side of this straight-side punch press. The flywheel is what generates energy to the crankshaft that runs the cycles of the punch press.

Highlighted here is the mechanical flywheel. this area is critical for the operating of a mechanical punch press. Belts are attached to the lower and upper sections of the flywheel to connect the motor to the crankshaft. The yellow cage is a non-operating, yet critical component of the flywheel as well. Since the motor is running the flywheel at relatively high speeds, it’s important, and is the law, to keep the moving parts covered to keep employees safe.

Ram and Bolster Plate

Inside of a C-Frame punch press.

This is the operating area of a C-Frame punch press. A die is positioned in between the ram and the bolster plate.

Above we have a picture of a general operating area of a punch press. A die is installed and ready to be run in this picture. Both the ram and the bolster plate are on display here. These two parts are key to any punch press operating correctly.

Bolster Plate

Bolster Plate

Here the bolster plate is highlighted. The bolster plate is a solid shelf where the die will sit and be secured to on the bottom section of the die.

In this picture, the bolster plate is highlighted. The bolster plate is important because it is where the die is placed and secured on. It is absolutely crucial that the bolster plate be a flat surface. Insuring that there is no left over scrap or any debris on the bolster plate before installing a die is very important. If there was any mis-alignment on the bolster plate, the die could run crookedly and potentially break and damage the punch press.


Punch Press Ram.

In this picture, the ram is highlighted from inside of a C-Frame punch press. The ram is the moving part that transfers the tonnage generated by the press down to the material. With a die attached, this creates different products.

The ram is rather self explanatory, as it is the moving part that rams the punches of the die into the material. The die is also attached to the ram to insure that the die is running as smoothly as possible. During the set up of a die, the ram is manually adjusted to the correct height. If the ram is set too high, the die doesn’t cycle through properly, and does not perform its functions correctly. If the ram is set too low, the die can bottom out and become stuck, creating heavily damaged dies, a stop in production, and many headaches.

These three pieces are what make a mechanical punch press go. While there are a lot of pieces that make everything run, if the ram, bolster plate, or flywheel are malfunctioning a punch press is not going to run efficiently, if at all.
Next week we’ll take a look at the differences between mechanical and hydraulic punch presses.

C-Frame vs Straight-Side Punch Presses

Punch Press Basics

What is a Punch Press?

A punch press is a machine that creates a certain amount of pressure, measured in tonnage, to be able to bend, pierce, form, and shear all types of materials. Some punch presses are operated by a hand lever that works with smaller, and lighter materials, while other punch presses are ran with electricity and hydraulics to improve the speed at which they are ran, and the tonnage they can create. Many of the punch presses we use are ran via electricity to power a crankshaft or flywheel to generate the speed and tonnage for the ram to cycle through an operation and create a part.

Today we’ll be going over the two main styles of punch presses, as it is important to understand the two main body types of punch presses before we get to their inter-working parts.

C-Frame vs. Straight-Side Punch Press

There are two main forms of punch presses, the C-Frame and Straight-Side. Just like anything in life, there are benefits and dis-advantages to both. Both styles can be used with hydraulic and mechanical power sources, and both have similar options for the amount of tonnage they can generate. Here are the differences:

C-Frame Punch Press

C-Frame Punch Press

Here is an example of a C-Frame press. The body of the press wraps around the ram allowing for access to the operating area from three different angles.

The C-Frame punch press, also commonly referred to as a Gap-Frame punch press, is characterized by the body of the press wrapping around the area of operations, resulting in the form of a “C” around the bolster plate. C-Frame punch presses main advantages are the three access points to the die, and generally speaking, lower costs as compared to most Straight-Side punch presses. However due to its shape, the motion derived to the ram will always create a slight mis-alignment under load, and the steps to counter-act the mis-alignment can lead to extra costs.


  • Three access points to the operations area, allowing easier die maintenance and adjustments, along with evacuation of scrap metal and finished parts.
  • Generally less expensive than a Straight-Side punch press.


  • Un-avoidable, mis-alignment due to body construction.
  • Added costs and operations to counter act mis-alignment.

Straight-Side Punch Press

Straight-side punch press.

Here is a front view of a straight-side punch press. There are only two points of access to the die and operating area of the punch press.

Straight-Side punch presses look as they are described; straight, with two main sides. While Straight-Side punch presses provide less areas to make adjustments to dies and evacuate scrap metal and finished parts, Straight-Side presses do not have the mis-alignment issues that come with a C-Frame press. This makes them more accurate, and best to use when tight tolerances are required.


  • No issues with mis-alignment, better for high tolerance parts.
  • Less requirement for die maintenance due to accuracy of press.


  • Higher costs of presses, and moving costs due to larger size and weight.
  • Less access points to work area, making adjustments and scrap evacuation more difficult.

Next week we’ll take a look at some of the inner working parts of a punch press that allows a stamping operation to produce parts.

Monday Manufacturing Round-up: February 24th, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up:

Well after a two-week surprise hiatus (a lot of steel receiving and out of the state sales calls) we pick back up in the last week of February to take a look at a couple different manufacturing and housing related articles. Some include OSHA regulation changes for the concrete industry, housing news, and tax graphs. On to the links:

That does it for today’s links. Here’s to a productive start to your week!

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up: February 10th, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up:

As the US recovers from ice and snow storms across the country, the Olympics officially kicked off last Friday in Sochi. The metal count is rather close, with the Netherlands and Norway both leading the way with 7 total metals. Meanwhile, the job addition numbers here in US look good to start off 2014, while a move by Toyota in Australia is leaving some people out of work. On to the links:

  • Snips Magazine has a brief press release related to the increase of jobs in the US in January. There was a reported 113,000 jobs added last month.
  • IMPO has an interview with Joe Atikian, the author of Industrial Shift:The Structure of the New World Economy. His book and the interview touch on his belief that manufacturing and farming are not decreasing in the US, and the importance of Mexico in the future of manufacturing.
  • Unfortunately for Australia, Toyota recently announced that all of their factories within the country will be removed by the end of 2017. This move will remove the last car manufacturer in the country, and thousands without jobs. CNN Money has the story.
  • A Toronto-based start up has created a wrist band that syncs with your heart beat to bypass passwords to your own accounts. The bracelet resets itself when removed, and if stolen, cannot be used with another person’s pulse.
  • And if you’re missing out on this year’s AHR Conference, TMB Publishing has a live stream here.

That’s it for this Monday. Here’s to a productive start of your week.

Snow Plows

As most of the country is covered in snow, one invention we have to help keep our roads safe and clear for transportation is a snow plow. Snow plows come in a variety of sizes and a couple of styles depending on the area that is needed to be cleared. The most common snow plows that are found on the market are either straight, one pieced plows or two pieced, rotating plows.

The straight plows (such as the one seen below) are typically found on larger trucks and utility vehicles, and used to clear large areas such as highways, and parking lots.

The two-pieced, rotating plows can typically go on consumer sized trucks, to large industrial trucks as well. They allow to pile up the snow within the blades of the plow, then rotate to evenly disperse the built up snow. The two blade set up is typically best used for small areas.

How Snow Plows are Made

The type of material used to build a snow plow is incredibly important, due to the conditions where a snow plow would be needed. Typically, stainless steel is used for the blades, or the actual surface that is used to scrape and disperse the snow. Stainless steel is used because of its strength and non-rusting characteristics. The sheets of stainless steel have holes punched into them at the top of the sheet, passed through a form rolling press to give them their proper degree, and then put through a press brake to bend the top section to fit on the base.

The base of a snow plow is typically made of carbon based steel, that is powder coated after construction to aid in rust proofing. Regular steel is significantly cheaper, and easier to manufacture than stainless steel, so most use a basic steel for the base. Many bases are manufactured differently, but you can see how one company makes their base here.