In a general application, we like to hear that our punches, dies, and other tooling are producing hundreds if not thousands of holes. When punch and die failure happens, our first concern is operator safety, but it can mean losses in production, missed deadlines, and more. But the better question is probably, why are my punches not lasting as long as expected or even as long as they used to? This perspective is easier because the different types of wear or failures present themselves in different ways. These indicate the probable cause of premature wear or failure.

Is Today’s Steel Causing Punch Failure?

We do know that steels today are much harder than they have been in the past, and this definitely contributes to excessive wear and diminished punch life for fabrication shops. There are some ways to facilitate these harder materials and prolong punch life. The most noticeable is the material and heat-treat processes that are used.

At American Punch, we use a proprietary blend of shock-resistant grade tool steel to mitigate the destruction done to the tooling when used with the harder steels in today’s industry. Shock-resisting steels are a specialized class of tool steels with very high impact toughness and relatively low abrasion resistance and can attain relatively high hardness. When combined, the elements in the material allow for a better mix and a deeper hardness throughout the material after heat treating. This is one of the reasons many customers say our tooling just lasts longer than our competitors.

Benefits of the Right Tooling Material

This shock-resisting tool steel is great for use in ironworkers, anglelines, beamlines, and plate lines used in structural steel fabrication for many reasons such as:

  • Machinability
  • Stability in heat treat
  • Ability to withstand high impacts

All of which means your punches and dies can take a lot of abuse and misuse yet will continue doing the job. But that doesn’t mean you should abuse your punches and dies, in fact, a case can be made for taking care of your equipment as another leading reason for punch failure.

Can Proper Equipment Care & Maintenance Reduce Punch Failure?

One of the most overlooked machine maintenance efforts for fabrication shops is proper machine and punch lubrication. The right lubrication can be an easy aid to facilitate punch and die life while helping to:

  • Reduce friction
  • Lubricate the tool
  • Remove heat
  • Reduce scoring & punch galling

All of which help prolong tool life, and also make punching smoother for tougher materials like stainless and high carbon steel. American Punch has our own line of lubrication dedicated to preventing punch and die failure called Punch Lube.

Our team of metal fabrication experts is continually looking for opportunities to improve production processes and reduce waste as well as ways to reduce wear and tear on your punches and dies. We know that every metal fabrication shop has its own unique challenges and opportunities. You can explore more reasons for punch failure on our site. And our team is here to help by improving tooling designs, production processes, and more, contact our team for advice on your individual situation and needs.