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.

What is Metal Stamping?

Metal Stamping:

Now that we’ve reviewed materials, and are familiar with the basics of steel, copper, aluminum, and brass, what is it exactly that we do with these materials? Depending on the material, we’ll either machine them or stamp them. Aluminum and brass are typically machined at our facility, while copper clad and steel are stamped. We’ve also covered different machining options, so what is metal stamping?

A simple way to explain metal stamping is to say that metal is fed into a die, where punches pierce, form, and cut material into a finished part. A more step-by-step explanation of metal stamping is the process of feeding coiled material from an un-coiler, through a material straightening device, into a die that is being ran by a punch press of varying speeds and tonnage. Is your head spinning yet?

We’ll be taking the next couple of weeks to breakdown the process of what is happening, and the key concepts of a metal stamping operation deals with on a day-to-day basis.

Minster straight side punch press

This is a Minster straight side style punch press. We’ll get into general information, and anatomy of a punch press next week.

Breakdown of the Coming Weeks:

There’s a lot to cover in the process of metal stamping. There are a lot of engineering concepts, and different machines that put together just one part. We’ll start out by focusing on the big machines that go together to ensure material is properly fed. Some of the machines we’ll be focusing on include:

  • Punch Presses
  • Un-Coilers
  • Feeders
  • Straighteners

Once we’ve got a hold of all of the big machinery that goes into making parts, we’ll take an in depth look at dies. Dies are the intricate tools that fit inside the punch press, and where the material is fed. Dies are what actually make the part, by piercing, forming, and cutting the material. Some of the topics we’ll cover regarding dies are:

  • Different Types of Dies (coining, single hit, progressive, fine blank, etc.)
  • Key Concepts in Die Function
  • General Anatomy of a Die

We’ve got a lot of topics to cover over the next couple of months, so check in here every Wednesday for a new topic on metal stamping.