CNC punching has, over the last 50 years or so, been the go-to equipment of choice for a sheet metal fabrication shop (in terms of blanking out sheet metal parts and components). However, during the last 10 years, the practice has been quickly overtaken by CNC lasers that offer advantages in some areas. But the benefits of CNC punch presses include a greater range of thicknesses that can be processed and a lack of any tooling costs, to name just two.
What is CNC punching?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) punching is a sheet metal manufacturing process that is carried out by CNC punching machines. A CNC punch press is programmed by a computer-aided manufacturing machine to manoeuvre a sheet of metal in an X-and-Y direction. This placement accurately positions the sheet metal under the machine’s punching ram. When ready and in position, the punch presses will punch a hole or form into the material.
What can CNC sheet metal punching be used to create?
CNC punch tools can be used to produce holes in a metal sheet of various shapes and sizes to create parts and components for various goods used in many industries. Examples of these include the automotive, agriculture, electronics, aerospace, construction and architecture sectors.
What are the advantages of CNC punching?
The advantages of CNC punching are numerous and include:
Efficiency and speed
With CNC milling machines, speeds of 1000 hits per minute can be achieved. Furthermore, efficiency CNC punching machines are non-thermal, meaning there are no heat-affected zones (HAZ) that need to be revisited.
As well as producing flat components, CNC machines are able to produce 3D forms in the parent sheet metal such as CNC punched louvres, dimples, embossed logos and hooks. This form of fabricating sheet metal also allows for tapping and countersinking which can be produced in situ, eliminating the need for ‘secondary options’.
So why do we still use CNC punch machines?
Yorkshire Laser and Fabrication still use a variety of CNC punching tools, yet we have access to two CNC laser machines. But if CNC laser technology is so much more effective these days, why do we still use a CNC punching machine? The answer to this question rests within the forming attributes that all CNC punches have to one degree or another.
A hydraulic ram forces the tooling into the flat sheet metal component, held in position by clamps on the bed of the punch. The tooling can then be used to create a number of shapes, such as:
- Centre punches
- Hinge forming
- Contour cut
Yorkshire Laser CNC punching capabilities
Yorkshire Laser operate an Amada Vipros 368 King. This is a 30-ton, 58-station hydraulic machine that comes complete with a 1500mm deep throat, programmable ram and a fully brushed table.
This enables us to process sheets up to 1500mm wide. With an incredibly high hit rate, perforated parts like grilles can be made much cheaper and with much less distortion than would occur with the laser treatment. Another bonus is the ability to tap formed holes directly on the machine, while the programmable ram allows us to form shapes in material with amazing accuracy and consistency.
What does this mean for our customers?
In a nutshell, this means that you don’t have to be pushed down an avenue that doesn’t really suit your component needs. The ability to offer various methods allows us to provide a more personal and tailored service for our customers’ complete satisfaction.
When you deal with Yorkshire Laser we will use our experience of CNC punching services and sheet metal fabrications to offer you the cheapest and best solution to suit a range of stainless steel sheet sizes. This could be via a laser or punch process; either way, we’ve got the solution that is best for your requirements. Don’t take our word for it – read what one of our happy customers has to say:
“YLF have helped my business with non-stop co-operation from prototype to production.” – Chris Vaudin (managing director of a vehicle conversions company)