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Press Brake Tooling

Galling challenges

By Lynn Stanley

Coated tooling helps a fabricator minimize surface damage and reduce waste

August 2011 - Lean manufacturing is an efficiency approach designed to streamline work flow and improve overall customer value. For fabricators like Meyer Aluminum Blanks Inc., Sheboygan Falls, Wis., practicing lean methods also means looking for ways to reduce waste when processing aluminum sheets. In the company's quest to optimize its use of each sheet, it found punching circles on a turret press allowed the operator to nest different-size circles on a single sheet and maximize scrap recovery.

Meyer is a metal center that produces aluminum circles for lighting, cookware, industrial ventilation and race car wheels. "The turret press gives us the flexibility to get whatever size a customer needs," says Kevin Verstegen, production manager for Meyer Aluminum Blanks. "Rather than having to stock all sorts of individual sizes, we can quickly produce what we need for each customer."

The fabricator uses Wilson Tool punch press tooling to produce circles and other special shapes. The tooling resembles a trapezoid with a curve that matches the radius of the circle being punched. Wilson Tool, White Bear Lake, Minn., is an independent supplier of U.S.-made tooling for sheet metal manufacturers.

Relatively new to the punching process, Meyer was familiar with Wilson tools. "We've only been using the turret presses for about a year and a half," says Verstegen. "We've been using tooling from Wilson since we started."

Tooling challenge
When Meyer began to experience cosmetic issues punching aluminum, it turned to the tool manufacturer for a solution. "We're dealing with aluminum, and aluminum galls very easily," says Verstegen. "The biggest challenge we have with our tooling is galling." A form of surface damage, galling occurs between sliding solids and is characterized by microscopic, localized roughening, protrusions or lumps.

Rather than use bare steel tools, Meyer worked with Wilson to identify the best method for minimizing the effects of galling. The tool manufacturer recommended Wear-Beater coating. The titanium nitride coating helps resist galling, reduce stripping and extends tool life when punching, forming or piercing aluminum. "We've had less galling problems using the Wear-Beater coating," says Verstegen.

To help improve press performance and decrease downtime, the tool manufacturer also provided critical input on the proper die clearances. "We experimented on our own with die clearances early on based on differing opinions from other fabricators," Verstegen says. "Ultimately, we ended up going with Wilson Tool's recommendation. Their die clearance was right on."

The ability to partner with a supplier that has the engineering knowledge and experience to evaluate processing methods and provide input as well as offer the right solutions was especially important to Meyer during the early phases of the punch press operation. "Wilson's tooling played a significant role in the company's lean manufacturing efforts," says Verstegen. "Wilson also has excellent customer service. Our sales guy, Dev Beal, has gone above and beyond. Truthfully, we've never even considered buying tooling anywhere else because he was here from the beginning and helped us troubleshoot a lot of problems." FFJ

Sources

  • Meyer Aluminum Blanks Inc.
    Sheboygan Falls, Wis.
    phone: 920/467-9590
    fax: 920/467-9594
    www.meyer-mab.com


  • Wilson Tool International Inc.

    White Bear Lake, Minn.
    phone: 651/286-6001
    fax: 651/286-5959
    www.wilsontool.com
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