What Makes up a Progressive Die?


We continued our recent conversation about progressive stamping dies with Dave Holzer, a Journeyman Tool and Die Maker and the Sales and Marketing Manager at Wisconsin Metal Parts. The company has created a series of educational videos to teach the basics of stamping to those new to the field. In this Q&A session, we asked Dave a few questions about the estimating process and components used to make a progressive die.To get more news about progressive stamping, you can visit tenral.com official website.

Dave, thanks for talking with us again. When you’re putting together a cost estimate for a progressive die, what do you need to know from a potential customer?

Dave Holzer: Putting together a bid for tooling involves a few pieces of information. First, we look at the part the customer wants to make. We review the types of materials the tool will run, the tolerances the customer expects, the volume the tool will produce, and the life expectancy of the project. We also talk with the customer about the budget available for the die.

Q: Let’s say we want to make a part with mid-range volumes, and we have a moderate budget. Can you give us an example of a solution Wisconsin Metal Parts would recommend?

Dave Holzer: Sure. If you’re looking for an economical tool for lower volumes, we may use single piece die blocks without any inserted cutting areas. We start with hardened tool steels. We build in stock guides, cutting stations, forming and piercing stations – all the elements needed to produce a complete part with a progressive die. We showcase an example in our most recent video.

Q. How do you select what materials to use when building tooling?

Dave Holzer: Tool steels are selected based on the types of materials the die will be cutting & forming and also the volume of parts the tool is expected to run. Some lower end tools might have A-2 cutting or forming steels if the volumes are low and the material is soft. Higher volumes or tougher materials will require better tool steels such as D-2, M-2, CPM or even carbide. Our tooling designers have years of experience picking the correct die steels to meet the demands of the tool.

Q. What types of equipment do you use to make the die components?

Dave Holzer: Most of the components these days are run through machines with CNC controls for milling and drilling operations. After components are heat treated, we normally will be using surface grinders to finish critical surfaces and the majority of form and cutting contours are completed in our Wire EDM machines. Once the tool is assembled, we still have tool makers who need to ensure everything is timed properly in the die and all of the cutting clearances are lining up properly.