The Plymouth Spring Blog

The Art and Science of Making a Four Slide Tool

Posted by Plymouth Spring on May 5, 2017, 8:00:00 AM | Leave a Comment

Four slide stamping machines have been around for a long time but the expertise to make tools for this technology is rare things. A number of shops offer four slide services, but many plants and designers do not realize how the tooling development process really works. Four slide stamping can produce high volumes of complex parts with low costs and shorter lead times than other methods like the Power Press. While there are applications where Power Presses produce the best results, a four slide with well-designed tooling can be better in numerous situations.

four slide tool

Four slide machines feature a unique combination of separate forming operations that occur in rapid succession. They can execute an impressive array of complex functions, including bends beyond 90 degrees, multiple bends, twists, threaded holes, and cylindrical forms. One of the common products produced in this process is the spring, but four slide manufacturing can produce much more. Using materials such as copper, brass, bronze, and steel, four sliding manufactures complicated parts and components for applications as diverse as lighting fixtures, battery contacts, power tools, appliances, and many others.

Complex forms can also be produced using a Power Press, but require additional components and tooling. Up and down Power Presses can’t bend parts beyond 90 degrees without adding costly mechanisms. Parts with multiple bends require Power Presses with many extra cylinders, lever arms, and cams, creating expensive systems that can be difficult to maintain. Four slide presses, however, can easily handle additional bends using their four slides and additional standard tooling.

Let's walk through the four slide tooling development process. It all starts when a customer sends us a part drawing. We then give that drawing to our experts who are then expected to quote the job from these drawings and other information about the application.

The key part of the process is to work with our engineers and designers so that the parts are designed for manufacturability. The goals is to prevent production issues down the road and to deliver the best product, at the best price, with the shortest leads times.

Plymouth Spring knows what can be made in one operation using four slide stamping equipment. Our combined 200+ years of experience building four slide tools help us avoid selling our customers something that can't be made at production volumes or that won't work when it gets to the customer.

One of our main design goals is to avoid secondary fabrication operations that drive up the timing and cost of the finished part.

By using the full capabilities of four slide stamping operations we avoid quality issues inherent when changing fabrication operations. Extra set-ups, change-overs of tooling, moving materials, and variable operators let error opportunities into the system.

A good example of a secondary operation we can avoid is adding a threaded hole to a stamped part. We can add a tapping step to the four slide stamping tooling to add a threaded hole with no secondary operation needed.

Our goal is that all parts come off of our four slide machine complete with no secondary operations.

Progressive die stamping requires the material being stamped to be wider so the stamping dies are much larger than four slide stamping dies. For example, you need material 1.5" wide to get 1" wide part using a progressive die. In our experience, using our four slide stamping tools we see a 50-80% material savings compared to a progressive die set up.

New Call-to-actionFor four slide stamping the widest part of the material is usually the width of the material we need to make the finished part so waste is minimized and the tools are smaller so even the tools are lower cost.

Plymouth Spring builds four slide tools in roughly half the time it takes to make progressive dies so the entire product development process is shorter.

Once we have the design for the tooling set we develop the blank. We use Bridgeports, CNC Haas machines, surface grinders, wire EDM for precision cutting, then heat treat and finish assembly.  We then setup the tooling in a four slide machine and finalize the tooling.

The end result is a four slide tooling that reliably produces usable parts, made to your tolerances and design, at a reasonable cost, delivered on time.

Contact us to talk to our experts about your formed components that might be a good fit for four slide tooling and stamping.

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Tags: fourslide stamping

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