Punch Presses: The Hole Story
Punch presses have a rightful place in the modern fab shop. Today’s punch presses process sheets faster than previous generations of the technology. With fast ram speed, some machines can punch as quickly as 1,350 strokes per minute, delivering scores of holes in a matter of seconds. Yet speed is just part of the conversation.
If you need to create small holes consistently and quickly, punch presses still stand out as holemaking workhorses. Punch presses can also provide high-tolerance holes that can be hard to duplicate with a laser. Consider the production of perforated screens, for example. Cluster tools typically are used for punching these hole patterns because multiple punches are used in one tool, maximizing the number of holes created in a single hit. Imagine one punch having as many as 234 pins and making that many holes with just one stroke! It’s been done. Punching might be the most economical way to produce holes for these applications.
Punch presses are also better suited for the efficient processing of small parts. When the final blanks are separated from the skeleton, they can be sent down the chute or collected in the scrap bin. In a laser environment, if the part is not attached to the skeleton, it can fall through the slats and be subjected to the laser spatter and debris from the laser cutting process.
The versatility of a punch press is hard to beat if the focus is on throughput. For example, the punch press allows shops to create forms like louvers and embosses without moving them to another machine. It can also form, scribe, and tap, helping to avoid other downstream processes.
This post was adapted from the article “Holemaking: Lasers or Punching Machines” by John Ripka, Mate Precision Technologies Application Technician, and Dan Davis, Editor-in-Chief, The Fabricator that appears in the March 2022 edition of The Fabricator. Read the entire article.