Leverage Press Technology as Part of a Survival Strategy

Friday, August 1, 2008
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Faced with rising costs for materials and energy, stampers also are challenged to produce higher-quality parts with tighter tolerances. U.S. manufacturers that for years have touted their dedication to lean manufacturing now must focus on reducing production costs to offset soaring prices for raw materials. They must place greater emphasis on thinking creatively, investing in more efficient metalforming equipment and performing facility energy audits.The right technology solutions can help stampers offset challenges and build a stronger foundation for surviving in a struggling economy. Knowing where to start—or where not to start—is the first step. Companies running old equipment or presses that have not been well maintained will likely find it difficult to compete. Attempting to perform stamping jobs with presses that have resided on the shop floor for many years, but may not offer the most cost-effective manufacturing solutions, can prove unproductive. Customer requirements must be evaluated with equipment choices that can deliver the least-costly production methods while meeting the necessary performance demands.

Capital-equipment purchases no longer are just about the press. Metalformers must address the entire stamping system. For some companies, a starting point might be purchasing better material through vendors with stricter quality standards. Better raw material means better part consistency.

The Right Press Optimizes Output and Efficiency

Once a stamper has sourced the raw material, it then can identify the most efficient production system to make the part—progressive die, automated press-to-press movement or transfer. Other questions a stamper might address:

• Can a tool station be eliminated if the press has a modified slide motion?

• Can a better part be produced with the addition of one or more tool stations?

• Will a quick-die-change (QDC) system be beneficial?

Progressive-die straight-side press
Stampers should specify press lines flexible enough to efficiently handle changing order quantities, illustrated here by this progressive-die straightside press automated for transfer and feed-line capabilities.
Photo courtesy Luitink Mfg. Co.

• What is the best to handle offal?

• How should finished parts be packaged?

• What is the best method for storing and shipping finished parts?

Output and efficiency can suffer due to a lack of the right equipment. If a stamper needs to run tighter-tolerance parts, it must operate tighter-tolerance presses. The press accurately (or inaccurately) provides the force to the die. Part accuracy cannot be achieved by only optimizing die design and build.

Technology developments during the last decade have greatly improved press tolerances. For example, the accuracy of some mechanical-press guiding systems can so closely control punch motion and the relationship between the punch and die that some mechanical presses now are more accurate than the die set.

The introduction of lube-free preloaded roller bearings into the slide-guide system of some presses eliminates the potential for press-oil contamination of a part. And, development of a dry slide guide—different from standard high-speed slide-guide technology —employs a proprietary roller-bearing mount with the ability to swivel. This helps the roller maintain contact with the guide surface on the column during off-center-load situations.

Lube-free, preloaded, roller-bearing slide guides allow metalformers to use a straightside press to produce a variety of stampings from high-volume, thick progressive-die parts to larger, lower-volume cosmetic pieces.

The latest development in precision slide guiding is the preloaded zero-clearance slide-guide system with high-pressure oil lubrication, which creates a press more accurate than a die set. This system avoids slide tipping caused by high off-center loads; slide shimmy caused by shock at the point of contact between the punch and material; and snapthrough at the time of material fracture. The guides comprise spherical shoes operating against flat guides attached to a massive frame structure. The very tall press slide enables the guide points to be spaced far apart and provide extremely long slide guides. The surfaces of the mating components are of materials that possess natural lubricity. Oil then is forced between these preloaded surfaces. This combination of preload and oil lubrication not only makes the slide guide very stiff, but also provides long life with little or no wear.


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See also: Aida-America Corporation, A Subsidiary of AIDA Engng LLC

Related Enterprise Zones: Automation, Coil Handling, Presses

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