BY ART HEDRICK
Quality icon W. Edwards
Deming once said, “In God
we trust; all others, bring
What a true and unshakable
statement. My livelihood as a consultant revolves around being able
to do three basic things: collect,
provide, and extract data. By
extract, I mean to look to others
more familiar with the process to
provide meaningful data.
There are literally thousands of
reasons for a process or a die to fail.
Trying to find a single source or
combination of sources that contribute to failure can be quite an
overwhelming task. Solving bigger,
more complicated problems usually
nical and a human side. In a case
example, a company’s pierce punches continue to break. This is a common problem. There may be 16
possible causes for punch breakage.
Who Is Needed
for the Fix?
1. Poor Punch-to-die Alignment.
Obviously, if the punch is not
aligned with the lower die button or
matrix, it will break. You will need a
toolroom die technician to investigate and correct this problem.
2. Worn-out Guide Pins and
Bushings. If the die set is not guiding properly, the punches will not
You wouldn’t believe the simplicity of many
well-respected magic tricks. Sometimes the
most puzzling problem has an obvious
A good problem-solving consultant
looks to the experience and expertise of
others who may have more experience
with a particular machine or die.
requires the skills and talents of
many individuals who contribute to
the success of the process.
Data—both the collecting of it
and how it is collected—is important. It takes more than just technical expertise to solve a problem.
Regardless of how much data you
collect, data itself will not correct
your problem. Data is useless unless
somebody reacts to it.
I have been in several shops that
have piles and piles of data, but
nothing is ever done with it. Why?
People often lack the motivation to
use it and put it to work.
Troubleshooting has both a tech-
work as well. Once again, you will
need a toolroom technician and
possibly a machinist to bore and
refit new pins and bushings.
3. Unbalanced Shear Angle on
the Punch. Unbalanced shear angles
may force the punch to deflect on
impact. You may need a diemaker or
grinder specialist to regrind the
4. Poor Die Setup Procedures.
The die or press bed may have been
dirty, and the die is not sitting down
flat on the ram or bolster plate. You
will need a die setup technician to
Pressure. If the pad doesn’t have
enough pressure to adequately strip
the punches on the return stroke,
the punches may become defective
and break. You’ll need a die designer or engineer to redesign this station and add more springs.
6. Improper Cutting Clearance.
Small cutting clearances create high
loads on the punches, sometimes
resulting in punch breakage. You
will need a diemaker or engineer to
recalculate engineered clearance and
correct the die.
7. Poor Tool Steel Selection. Many
tool steels have great wear resistance
but lack toughness. Using a tool steel
that has poor shock resistance in a
severe cutting operation may result in
punch breakage. You will need an
engineer or metallurgist with in-depth knowledge about tool steel
selection to correct this.
8. Poor Heat Treating of the Tool
Steel. The heat treating factors into
the tool steel’s performance.
Quenching temperatures that are
too high or too low can affect the
performance drastically. In addition,