Q: We know that tooling life can be improved by using the right material, coating, lubricant, and press. Are there any other factors that can extend the life of stamping tooling?
A: Yes. One big, and rarely addressed, factor is toolroom management. To really have a best-in-class stamping shop, you need to implement four fundamental practices.
- Zero First-off Part Quality Failures
On every new tool setup, it usually is standard practice to do a complete dimensional readout on the part. This takes some time and labor. If the part fails, you have to go back, adjust, and repeat the cycle, and that’s a total waste.
Before your first-article inspection (FAI), know what you need to look at. Some features generally don’t change, like trim dimensions, while others are subject to variation, like forms and true positions. Take the time to know your part is good before moving to FAI. Track the number of failures versus passes. The goal is 99% passing.
- Zero Unscheduled Die Pulls for Service
Don’t wait until your tool has to be pulled for service. Schedule service based on the expected number of hits you know you can get repeatably. Unscheduled die pulls cause chaos; multiple tools often are pulled at the same time, and some have to wait because of labor availability.
Also, consider the length of the stamping run. If you expect a service at 300,000 hits and the total run is 500,000, service the tool around 250,000 hits. This allows the pressroom planners to manage their labor by knowing ahead of time what is running and what isn’t.
Track the unscheduled die pulls. The goal is zero.
- Proactive Tooling Component Changeouts
With tools that do a lot of forming, the forms do not all wear at the same rate. Usually, a particular part feature goes out of spec, and then we pull the tool and replace it.
This practice can be complicated by a few factors, however. First, multiple forms in the die are interdependent when forming part features; if a new form is working with an old, worn form to produce the part features, the results might not be to spec.
Second, some form tools are so complex that it can be very challenging to get the exact same results with a replacement spare. Be sure to identify these tools in advance and start replacing them one at a time on your standard end-of-run service. Don’t wait for a part failure.