Category Archive: Progressive Dies

Tool and Die Design

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Designing tools and dies is a crucial process in the manufacturing industry that involves engineering solutions for stamping, forming, and assembling products. It impacts the quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of producing parts and components. For instance, a well-designed tool and die can significantly enhance production capabilities, reduce lead times, and ensure consistent part quality.

Tool and die designs must follow certain guidelines for efficient and high-quality production. Thus, understanding the main rules and principles is essential for all the various stakeholders involved in the manufacturing process. This includes designers, engineers, manufacturers, and quality control professionals.

Here are 10 key rules in tool and die design:

Rule 1: Understand Product Requirements

The first step includes understanding the product specifications, intended use, performance expectations, and any specific manufacturing processes involved. If this is not met, then the design will not matter because the part will fail.

Rule 2: Ensure Compatibility With Manufacturing Processes

The part design should be optimized for the specific manufacturing processes, ensuring it can be produced without causing unnecessary delays or complications. This means features like cutouts or embosses need to be moved away from the bend lines and features are no smaller than one material thickness.

Rule 3: Select Suitable Materials

Features on the part must be compatible with the type of material. For example, aluminum is easily punched but not easily stretched or strained. This must be taken into consideration when engineering the tooling otherwise the sheet metal parts will be susceptible to breakage.

Rule 4: Maintain Precision and Tolerance

The tolerances and dimensions of a customer drawing will have a big impact on the design considerations of a tool. For example, if a cutout has a high precision call out with very low tolerance but is next to an emboss feature the order of operations will matter because the cutout could be distorted during forming.

Rule 5: Incorporate Die Protection and Safety

Die protection and operator safety are two of the most important aspects of tool and die design. By incorporating die protection sensors, it cuts down on the cost of tool repair and downtime in production. It also protects the operators from debris from any potential mishaps with the tooling.

Rule 6: Design for Manufacturability

Designing for manufacturability is an incredibly important aspect to consider when designing a new tool. A tool must be easy to assemble and take apart and maintain. This keeps downtime and sharpening costs low. Therefore, designing a tool with components that are easy to access is a must.

Rule 7: Optimize Tool and Die Geometry

Optimizing space to make as compact a tool as possible saves on costs for tool steel as well as saves on long term material costs for progressive dies. This means manipulating parts in space to nest them as close together as possible in a tool for maximum cost efficiency. Of course, this is all done within reason because the closer stations are together the thinner (weaker) the die walls become.

Rule 8: Part Ejection and Scrap

The removal of material and ejection of finished parts are an important part of any tool and die design. Good die design keeps parts and scrap separate as they are removed from the tool as well as away from any moving pieces or areas they could get stuck or smashed. This allows for the operator to focus on other areas of the tool as it is running.

Rule 9: Maintain Proper Clearances

It is always important to have the correct clearances throughout the entire tool and die design to maintain functionality and accuracy. If we do not maintain the proper punch and die clearances, we will struggle with burrs and sharp edges. We need to keep the proper forming clearances so that we do not over or under bend the material. We also need to maintain the proper clearances so that all the inserts and locating pins will operate properly in the tool.

Rule 10: Conduct Simulation and Testing

Through virtual simulations or physical prototypes, potential issues can be identified, and necessary adjustments made to optimize performance during production. Doing this helps prevent costly and time-consuming problems down the line.

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What Are Progressive Dies?

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Efficiency and precision are critical elements of modern manufacturing, and progressive dies represent a key tool for achieving both. These tools make it possible to produce complex sheet metal components quickly and with remarkable accuracy. In addition, their advantageous properties make them an essential part of many industrial processes.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about progressive dies. These include how they work, their benefits, and strategies for designing them.

How Progressive Dies Work

Progressive dies use a series of cutting and forming stations to convert sheet metal into finished parts. The die — which is a custom-designed series of hardened metal blocks — is mounted onto a punch press that can apply an immense amount of force. The die consists of several stages of cuts, punches, and other operations that shape and form the metal sheet as it passes through the press.

The die consists of multiple stages that perform these operations, with each step creating a particular feature of the finished part. For example, the first stage may pierce the metal sheet to make holes for screws or fasteners. The second stage may blank the metal sheet to create the general shape of the part. The subsequent steps will bend or shape the sheet to create more complex features.

Each die stage is carefully designed to ensure the sheet is transformed into the desired shape with the utmost precision and accuracy. The result is a precisely manufactured component that meets the exact specifications of the design. It also has a consistent quality and accuracy from one part to the next.

Benefits of Progressive Dies

Progressive dies offer numerous advantages over traditional metalworking techniques, making them popular for manufacturers across various industries. The following are four of the most significant benefits of this fabrication approach:


Progressive dies are generally made to be automated, producing parts much more quickly than conventional techniques. Additionally, the die contains multiple stages, each performing a unique operation on the metal as it moves through the press. As a result, a single press cycle can create multiple parts simultaneously, significantly reducing the time required to handle large production runs.


Progressive dies are made using thick die plates and high precision bushings and pins to ensure proper and consistent operation of the tool. Using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to design and produce progressive dies further increases precision. They allow for the creation of highly detailed and accurate designs, which are translated directly into the machining instructions. This results in finished parts that match the original design with exceptional accuracy.


Progressive dies can be designed and customized to create a wide variety of metal parts with different shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity. This makes them a valuable tool for manufacturers who need to produce a diverse range of metal components. Moreover, each stage can be easily replaced or modified to accommodate changes in the design or specifications of the finished part.


Although the initial investment in tooling and equipment can be higher in progressive dies than in other techniques, the long-term cost savings can be significant. This is primarily due to the long-term savings in piece price due to the reduced amount of manual labor to produce parts.

Design Strategies for Progressive Dies

Designing progressive dies is a complex process that involves several stages, from initial concept design to final production. One of the most critical aspects of designing progressive dies is the development of a detailed and precise die layout. This involves breaking down the production process into individual stages and determining each die component’s proper shape and size.

Another critical consideration in the design is the use of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. For example, precision machining techniques such as wire EDM and CNC milling can be used to create components with the highest possible levels of accuracy and consistency. To further enhance the efficiency of the design process, many designers now use CAD software to create 3D models of the die.

Partner With Verdugo Tool and Engineering Co. for High-Quality Metal Fabrication Services

Verdugo Tool and Engineering Co. has been a trusted provider of top-quality metal fabrication solutions since 1957! We also offer a range of capabilities, including tool and die design, metal stamping, and value-added services. Our skilled engineers, tool makers, and press operators work together to ensure your parts are produced with exceptional precision and speed.

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