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How to Set Up Punch Press Dies

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Setting up the dies is the most crucial part of the overall use of a punch press. The dies form and shape the metal and come in various shapes and sizes depending on the type and size of the punch press you are running. The dies must be at the proper height and ample lubrication must be provided to ensure the machine does not overload. Once you have set up a few jobs, you will be able to set up the dies in a punch press in no time at all.

Choose the dies necessary to complete the job according to the program that has been created or selected for the job. Punch press dies come in many sizes and shapes, but they must be placed in the magazine for the computer numerical control (CNC) to use it for the particular job. Punch presses can utilize drills, taps and other forming tools as well as dies.

Check each die using a jeweler's loupe to ensure that they are sharp. The punch press uses significant force, up to 25 tons, to bend and shape metal sheets. Ensure that each die is sharp and in good working order to be effective for the operations. Sharpened the die in your machine shop or send it out to be sharpened if your shop does not have that capability. Look for cracks or dull areas on the face of the die before inserting them in the magazine.

Place the dies in the magazine matching the proper die with the die number designated in the program. Check the heights of all the dies being used to make sure they are all close to the same height. Shorter dies will have to be shimmed to ensure that the punch operation is adequate. Lubricate all the dies while they are in the magazine to keep the punching operations smooth.

Set the clamps to hold down the material as per the program. Ensure that no clamps are in the way of the dies when they punch the material. A mistake here could damage the machine, the material as well as the die itself. Reaffirm the clamp locations during repositioning as well to prevent the same type of damage.

Proof the first run by stopping the machine on occasion to inspect the progress of the program and to check to see if the dies were set up properly. If changes need to be made, you can make edits and restart the program from any point. Once the first piece is complete and approved, no further stops will be necessary unless a die breaks or becomes too dull to continue.


Keep hands away from a running machine. The many tons of pressure can crush body parts with ease.

  • Keep hands away from a running machine. The many tons of pressure can crush body parts with ease.

Christian Mullen is a graduate from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in finance. He has written content articles online since 2009, specializing in financial topics. A professional musician, Mullen also has expert knowledge of the music industry and all of its facets.