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Progressive Die Design

Fundamentals of Tool Design Study Guide, DV07PUB4 - 1 -

Training Objective

After watching the program and reviewing this printed material, the viewer will gain an understanding of the
design criteria for progressive dies.

The concept of progressive dies is detailed
Die operation is explained
Die design is illustrated
Progressive die part design and strip utilization is demonstrated

The Progressive Die

Progressive dies perform a series of fundamental cutting and forming operations typically on continuous
sheet metal strip, or coil, stock. These operations are performed simultaneously at two or more stations
during each press stroke as the strip progresses through the die to produce a part.

Positioning of the stock at each station is accomplished by pilot holes or slots. As the stock advances
through the die stations, unwanted material is cut out leaving one or more tabs, ribbons, or bridges to
connect the partially completed part to the strip until completion.

By combining stock material transfer, along with cutting and forming operations within a single progressive
die arrangement, significant cost savings are realized especially on high volume production runs.

Along with production volume, part complexity plays a large part in progressive die design. Commonly,
design trade-offs are required in strip development to address factors contributing to part quality, tool
maintenance, tool life, and ultimately tool cost. Such trade-offs would include:

Part orientation
Part transport
Stock positioning
Number of progressions

Part Orientation

Strip development begins by determining the orientation of the part as it will be run through a progressive
die. Part orientation is governed by the part features, critical tolerances, location of datum points and
surfaces, and maximum utilization of the strip stock to minimize scrap.

Lift is required to allow proper strip progression through the die, and the amount of lift needed to carry the
strip is critical. Lift can sometimes be reduced significantly or eliminated by properly orienting a part. Part
orientation and forming direction, either downward or upward will influence lift. Also to be considered in
respect to part orientation is feed increments which should be as short as possible. A shorter progressive
feed runs faster and has less chance of causing misfeeds within the die.

Part Transport

The basic methods of part transport through a progressive die are:

Parts carried by the material between them
Parts carried by one side of the strip
Parts carried by both sides of the strip

Progressive Die Design

Fundamentals of Tool Design Study Guide, DV07PUB4 - 2 -

Parts that are carried by the material between them is the most straightforward method. Excess material
equal to one or two material thicknesses per side are required for trimming. This method typically produces
minimal scrap, or no scrap if the two adjacent parts have symmetrical edges.

Parts carried by one side of the strip are suitable for parts requiring forming on as many as three sides. This
style carrier also improves accessibility if cam-piercing or cam-forming is required.

Parts carried by both sides of the strip, often called ladder-style carriers, allow a strip to feed easily, and are
often used in high feed-rate applications. Ladder-style carriers work well with complex parts and with those
requiring a large amount of lift. Ladder-style carriers use more material per part. Often, however, a part
cannot be stamped progressively using any other carrier method.

Carrier rails or pins are commonly used to support and guide the strip as it is moved from die station to die

Stock Positioning

Stock must be positioned accurately in each progressive die station so that the operation can be done in the
proper location on the strip. A commonly used method of stock positioning incorporates pilots in the
progressive die, with the two primary methods being:

Indirect piloting
Direct piloting

Indirect piloting involves piercing holes in the carrier strip and locating them with pilots in later operations.
Locating indirect pilots in the scrap region has two advantages: they are not readily affected by part changes
and their size and location are not as limited as direct pilots.

Direct piloting involves piloting in holes or slots punched in the part at a previous station. Use of direct
piloting holes are conditional with respect to maintaining close hole tolerances, piloting in holes close to part
edges, and piloting in weak areas within a part. If any of these conditions exist, indirect piloting is the
preferred positioning method.

Other parameters also affecting stock positioning, include:

Press stroke
Operational speed

Dwell refers to the upward movement of the press stroke which clears the die elements from the strip. Dwell
must be a minimum of twice the height of the part. The dwell period cannot be used to advance the strip to
the next die station.

Pitch is the distance measured between the center lines of two adjacent die stations and must be constant
between all successive stations throughout the die. The shortest pitch distance produces the least scrap.
Pitch is increased in relation to stock thickness.

The press stroke must be longer than what is actually needed to form a part. This extended stroke allows for
strip advancement and positioning at the next die station.

Operational speed of the press cannot be faster than the drawing speed of the metal being formed.

Progressive Die Design

Fundamentals of Tool Design Study Guide, DV07PUB4 - 3 -
Number of Progressions

Once a basic design is determined, the exact number of die stations can be evaluated. Although individual
operations in a progressive die can be simple, when combined in several stations, strip design can be quite
complex. The sequence of operations must be carefully developed. As the complexity of the progressive tool
design increases, several factors should be considered:

Pilot holes should be punched at the first die station. Other holes may also be punched there too if they
are not affected by subsequent operations.
Pierced regions should be distributed over several stations.
Blanked portions of the strip should be designed as simple shapes to save on any special tooling costs.
Die punches should incorporate shedder pins or oil-sealed breaker pins to aid in slug disposal.
Utilize empty, or idle, die stations to enhance workload distribution, provide space for later die
modifications, and to facilitate maintenance.
Determine the direction of forming. Downward forming is more cost effective in die design, but upward
forming is more versatile.
Balance the position of cutting and forming operations for uniform loading on the press slide.
Check strip layout to minimize scrap; use a multiple layout, such as a two-per-stroke, four-per-stroke, or
right- and left-handed part design if feasible.
Consider part and scrap ejection methods. Dropping the part down through the die is the most desirable
ejection design.
Cutting the scrap into small pieces simplifies material handling and promotes greater scrap-sale return.

Progressive Die Lubrication

Friction is inherent in progressive die operations. Press forces applied to the tooling are transferred to the
strip by direct contact. For this reason, lubrication is vital for successful progressive-die stamping. A
lubricant's main function is to minimize surface contact between the tooling and the workpiece. As a result,
workpiece surface quality is directly related to the properties and behavior of lubricants. Proper lubrication
also extends tooling life, and improves product quality by eliminating surface damage.

Progressive die lubricants range from light mineral oils to heavy drawing compounds. They can be oil-based,
water soluble, or synthetic.

Application methods include:

Airless spraying

Progressive Die Design

Fundamentals of Tool Design Study Guide, DV07PUB4 - 4 -
Review Questions

1. In a progressive die, basic cutting and forming operations occur:
a. simultaneously
b. incrementally
c. alternately
d. after scrap material is ejected

2. Stock positioning within the progressive die is accomplished by the use of:
a. electronic sensors
b. carrier rails
c. pilot holes or slots
d. pre-punched dimples

3. The purpose of lift is to:
a. allow proper strip progression through the die
b. generate energy for the downward press stroke
c. allow for lubricant application
d. allow for dwell time

4. The part transport method which typically generates minimal scrap is:
a. parts carried by the material between them
b. the ladder-style carrier
c. parts carried by one side of the strip
d. parts carried by both sides of the strip

5. In indirect piloting, pilot holes are punched:
a. in the part
b. in the carrier strip
c. on alternate sides of the carrier strip
d. down the center of the carrier strip

6. The dwell time of the press stroke must be at least:
a. one half the height of the part
b. twice the height of the part
c. three times the height of the part
d. twice the width of the part

7. Pitch refers to:
a. the relationship between part thickness and strip width
b. the total distance between the first and last die stations
c. the width of the carrier strip
d. the distance between the center lines of two adjacent die stations

8. Downward forming is more cost effective with respect to the:
a. size of press required
b. versatility of part design
c. die design
d. speed of material going through the die

9. The most effective design to handle part ejection is:
a. to use air pressure
b. to use open die magnets if possible
c. the use of shedder pins
d. dropping it through the die

Progressive Die Design

Fundamentals of Tool Design Study Guide, DV07PUB4 - 5 -
Answer Key

1. a
2. c
3. a
4. a
5. b
6. b
7. d
8. c
9. d