Eliminate Secondary Operations with Specialty Tools


Secondary operations in sheet metal fabrication add cost and lead time to the production of finished parts. Examples of secondary operations include bending, deburring, fastening, welding, tapping, part marking and more. Reducing or eliminating these secondary operations help decrease fabrication costs and production time. In turn, this frees up time on the shop floor to increase productivity and throughput of other jobs. Typically, the end results are lower labor costs and a higher profit margin.


Punch press machines have the flexibility to run tools that can produce features in the part while still in the machine to eliminate many of these secondary operations. Following are examples of features that can be produced in a punch press that either reduce or eliminate a specific secondary operation.


There are a variety of tools that can be used to produce small bends in the sheet metal while still in the punch press. This eliminates the need to form these features on a press brake machine at a later time. The length and height of these bends are limited to the tool or station sizes and available space in the machine, but can produce bends up to (and sometimes over) 90° with a single stroke of the machine. Additional strokes in small increments can push these bends well over 90°, and in many cases up to 180°.

Mate VariBend™ adds even more flexibility to the ability to create bends in the punch press. The VariBend can be programmed to produce a bumped radius in some cases up to 270° around.
Mate EasyBend™ creates a V-line in the top or bottom side of the sheet, allowing small features to be easily bent by hand, eliminating the need for an additional press brake operation. EasyBend works well in light gauge material for bends less than 8” in length. Features that can be bent by hand can allow parts to ship flatter, which can also reduce shipping and transport costs.
EasyBend Trumpf Style


Punched edges in sheet metal often leave sharp burrs and can be dangerous to handle. Deburring tools are designed to push the burr from punched or sheared edges back into the material, leaving a smooth, safer edge. Deburring tools could be tool sets that are compressed together at the edge of a punched or sheared edge to coin a small chamfer on the punched or sheared edge, eliminating the burr.

Mate Rollerball Deburr™ is another form of deburring tool. Rollerball Deburr consists of a pair of Rollerball® inserts (one in the upper tool and one in the lower tool) that are programmed to compress the punched or sheared edge or contour as the sheet moves in the machine. The sheet is moved to match the contour to be deburred, leaving a smooth, burr free edge.


There are many types of tools available that create features in sheet metal to fasten or join two sheets or components together, eliminating the need for welding, spot-welding and sometimes drilling or tapping. Locking tabs, lance and forms, shear buttons and tapping tools are all tool types that can create features for fastening sheet metal together.

Mate SnapLock™ is a lance and form tool that produces a self-locking, spring loaded tab that snaps into a pre-punched hole, locking the two components together. This eliminates the need for welding or other fasteners.
SnapLock box
Mate HexLock™ is a triple lance and form tool that creates three formed features to allow a specific sized nut to be pressed into the center of the forms. A bolt or screw can be inserted from the opposite side of the sheet to secure features or components together, eliminating the need to weld a nut in place.
ShearButtons™ are produced by pushing a particular shape (round, square, special) partially through the material, typically leaving a feature 50% to 60% above or below the original surface. These features are then pressed or fit into a matching hole in a mating part to lock them together. ShearButtons can also be used for locating sheets when joining them together, eliminating the need to measure and layout location marks.
Square ShearButton

Tapping tools can be installed into many punch press machines to create threads in pre-punched holes, eliminating the need to drill and tap these features later. Tapping tools that use a punching stroke or tools that use a combination of downward ram feed in an auto-index station are offered by Mate for certain model punch presses.

Part Marking

Part marking is often used to identify part numbers, special fabrication instructions, special feature locations and more. There are a number of tool types available for part marking in a punch press. Stencil tools, diamond tipped engravers and ink markers are among these tool types.

Stencil tools have V-line features in the face of the tool that create text, logos or artwork in sheet metal. The V-lines are pressed into the sheet at the punch press to produce the desired graphic.

Mate Sheetmarker™ tools use diamond tipped engraving inserts that are installed into a specially designed holder with a spring behind it to engrave or scribe lines and arcs. The installed spring (light, medium or heavy) controls the force of the engraving insert as it is pressed into the material. The Sheetmarker is often used to place company logos or artwork onto fabricated parts, as well as part numbers, instructions, or safety warnings.
Mate EasyMark™ is a 5-in-1 tool kit that offers 5 capabilities with one tool. Depending on the insert used, you can write on sheet metal using a permanent ink marker with instructions or part numbers; engrave or etch the metal; cut protective film; create a center point to place locations for other features; or perform high-speed dot-matrix marking.


Punch presses are a great for punching holes in parts. However, they are extremely flexible and can be used for so much more so you can get an even greater return on your investment. Bending, marking and de-burring are just a few examples of the versatility that punch press machines can be used for to reduce or eliminate secondary operations, increase productivity and increase profitability of fabricated parts.


For more time and cost saving examples click here.


Blog Author

John Ripka

John Ripka is an Applications Technician at Mate Precision Technologies.