Changing direction

By Lynn Stanley

Above: The operator uses automation control to adjust press feed.

Teamwork helps stamper navigate perils of proper press selection

April 2014 - Think tank Pew Research Center reports 73 percent of online adults communicate through some form of social media. Companies also are turning to virtual business meetings and online training. Some experts question whether or not growing use of the digital platform puts face-to-face communication at risk. For Seyi-America Inc., BDC Machinery and Capitol Stampings, face-to-face interaction—not travel on the electronic highways— has forged strong bonds linking press manufacturer, distributor and customer. A virtual exchange also couldn’t take the place of one-on-one discussions and the on-site technical evaluation that recently helped Capitol avoid some pitfalls commonly associated with specifying a new press.

“We needed to add capacity and ramp up quickly,” says Capitol president Gary Wenzel. The Milwaukee company provides custom stamping, welding, rapid prototyping, assembly and finishing solutions and is a major supplier of pulleys, sprockets and spindles for demanding commercial applications. Roughly 50 percent of Capitol’s business is dedicated to the lawn and garden industry and the production of subcomponents and pulleys such as the idler pulley. With half a dozen Seyi presses on its floor, some dating back 15 years, Capitol is comfortable with the reliability of the press builder’s machines.


Seyi, Walnut, Calif., is a press manufacturer for C-frame, gap frame, straightside and link motion presses. Ready availability of a Seyi stock machine also was attractive to Capitol. “We were looking at a simple gap frame press to handle parts for our split-steel and stamped idler pulley programs,” says Wenzel. “We needed something that would hold up and get the job done. We didn’t need a press with a lot of bells and whistles. Seyi presses are good machines, economically priced and require very little maintenance.”

The big picture

When it comes to capital equipment purchases, Wenzel admits, manufacturers often specify a machine and place the order without the engineering expertise a distributor can provide. “BDC Machinery looked at our operation and talked to us about the parts we needed to make for this program, but we were also asked to think about what parts we might make down the road,” he says. The Seyi distributor performed an on-site review of the project and included Capitol’s input in its evaluation. Analysis revealed that reverse load and other performance variables dictated a custom configuration versus a simple stock machine. 

“Tooling, annual part volume and part processing always dictate the press,” says Rick Wenzel (no relation to Gary), president of BDC Machinery. The Nekoosa, Wis., company provides the metalworking industry with full systems integration, installation, service and support for a range of product lines including presses, feed lines, material handling, automation and scrap removal.

Capitol’s application called for blanking circles from hot-rolled pickled and oiled (HRPO) and draw quality steels up to 9 gauge and in diameters of 3 in. to 11 in. A typical split steel pulley is stamped, split and a hub or insert welded to the pulley’s center. “It’s a specialized product for us,” says Gary Wenzel. “There are maybe a dozen commercial and general contract manufacturers that use this technology. 

Lighter, yet stronger than cast iron, split-steel pulleys offer increased strength, reliability and durability on components for end products like mowers. Reverse tonnage or snap through—a performance variable easily overlooked by stampers—results when a punch breaks through the material during blanking. Factors like material type, hardness and thickness, punch-to-die clearances and punch velocity, determine how much reverse tonnage is generated. Industry standards require that presses are designed to accept a reverse tonnage load that does not exceed 10 percent of the maximum forward capacity of the press.

“To properly size a press you have to consider both reverse load and forward load,” Rick Wenzel says. “For Capitol we verified reverse and forward load based on the thickest, largest diameter part they might produce.”


The finer details

BDC Machinery determined that Capitol would require a 220-ton Seyi gap frame, and identified several necessary modifications that included changes to the slide and bolster. Despite the short time frame, Seyi was able to disassemble its stock press and machine a larger opening in the slide to accommodate Capitol’s extensive range of tooling. “A lot of our dies have a shank or round pin on top,” says Gary Wenzel. “Shank diameters on the dies were larger than the shank holder opening on the press. Seyi’s ability to modify its slide opening saved us the considerable cost that would have been associated with redesigning our tooling.”

To support Capitol’s die clamping methods, Seyi built a new bolster with a scrap hole opening sized to fit the fabricator’s varied dies and T-slot orientation. Its underside was altered to accept a new die cushion sourced to fit Capitol’s tooling. Process requirements called for a SmartPac automation control.

“We started out to do one thing and ended up moving in a different direction,” says Gary Wenzel. “Instead of a basic stock machine, we spec’d a press with major mechanical modifications and control upgrades. Usually when you hear the words ‘custom configuration’ you immediately think more time and more money. In this case Seyi was able to make these changes and still meet our budget and accelerated timeframe.”

While Seyi worked to adapt its gap frame press to Capitol’s new set of specs, the stamper built and designed a compound blank die with a smaller footprint to get production off the ground quickly once the press was installed. “To support the same parts program we also were designing and building a progressive die with four to five stations to give us a higher level of production and greater flexibility in maintaining the die,” says Gary Wenzel. 


Shouldering the work

The Seyi single-point gap frame press was installed at Capitol in November 2013. “The press was delivered and set up, the tools went in and we hit the ground running,” Gary Wenzel says. “Our busy season for production of lawn and garden subcomponents kicks off in November and runs through May. During the summer we start stamping parts for snow blowers and other industries. We got a press system that supports our customer requirement of 1 million pulleys in approximately seven months. We’ll run 600,000 split-steel pulley parts this year, reaching a volume of 1 million next year. Because BDC Machinery’s analysis pointed us to a slightly larger press properly equipped to handle the work’s performance requirements, we have enough flexibility to run a fair amount of other parts during the months between our seasonal work. The press isn’t sitting idle for five months. We’re actually able to run jobs on the Seyi gap frame that traditionally should be run on a press with a longer bed.”

Like Seyi, BDC Machinery believes the sales experience is really about working with people—not just products—to build relationships and solve problems. “As an established press manufacturer in North America, our goal is to maintain a high level of responsiveness with our customers,” says Randy Kish, regional sales manager for Seyi. “A strong distributor network is essential because companies like Rick’s are often our first responder when it comes to spending that critical face time needed to effectively problem-solve for customers. As a manufacturer we can’t be everywhere at one time. Our distributors, as extensions of our company, contribute immensely to our ability to maintain a strong presence, credibility and a high level of responsiveness. With Capitol, Rick’s value quickly became evident in his ability to work the finer details and apply his engineering knowledge to a job that at first glance seemed simple and straightforward but ultimately turned into a complex project.” 

Eventually the Seyi gap frame will shoulder all of Capitol’s split-steel pulley parts production. The ability to eliminate the step to test run parts aided the fabricator’s push to ramp up production quickly. “We have a history with Seyi,” Gary Wenzel says. “We had confidence that we wouldn’t have any problems. The press has already run close to 225,000 stampings. It’s going well. We have no worries about downtime.” FFJ




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