A turret punch is a soft tooling machine that gives you some unique capabilities. A sheet of material is fed into the machine which has tooling in it. Said tooling uses multiple strokes on a part to produce a number of features. These features include circular holes, square holes, different shapes, and forms such as reinforcement ribs.
“You would look at some of the parts that we do in Nashville and say that would need to be a hard tooled or a stamping part, but our guys have figured out creative ways to do those features in our turret punches using specialized tooling,” says Terry Woodward of American Fabricators (AFI) in Nashville, a Kloeckner Metals fabrication shop.
While a turret punch would never fully replace a press brake, there are some things it can do that a brake cannot. There are some unique form features that a punch can create. The soft tooling of the turret punch is also much less expensive than the hard tooling of a press.
“The real benefit of a turret punch is that if you have a product line that has a mid-range or lower volume where you can’t justify stamping dies, it is a very economical way to produce the parts,” Woodward says.
This is particularly true with prototype products and processes. A turret punch is a good way to validate an assembly prior to investing large capital dollars for hard tooling. It allows products to be tested with minimal risk.
“If you’re engineering a product, and you build stamping dies, and then there is an issue down the pike somehow, it usually results in huge dollars in order to modify,” Woodward says. “The thing with a turret punch is that worst case scenario you may change the strokes, or you may be looking at buying another tool, which in relation to a hard tool is very inexpensive.”
Another benefit is that the soft tooling process allows parts to be 100% inspected at multiple points in the process where a coil fed, hard tooled approach does not.
“This is valuable when processing substrates such as #4 stainless or pre-painted materials that may have cosmetic properties that are important to the customer,” Woodward says.
Steven Nghe is currently the Head of Marketing & Communications at Kloeckner Metals. Nghe is a marketing professional with more than 14 years of experience in various environments and industries. His goal is to tell you about the sexy side of steel. Nghe holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from North Carolina State University. Prior to Kloeckner, Nghe worked for Delta Dental, Wells Real Estate Funds, Georgia Institute of Technology and Doosan.