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Punch and Die making

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  • Punch and Die making

    I just want to put this out there and see what everyone's opinion is. In the image below are tattoo machine springs. They are made of 18 gauge spring steel. It is extremely time consuming and difficult to cut them by hand. They are the heart and soul of the machine and need the holes to be dead center and the springs need to be balanced. So I've been trying for a few months to find someone who can make some punch and die sets for the four different springs. I was told it can't be done (which is utterly ridiculous) and I was quoted at one place....four grand per spring. I do not have 16,000 dollars. So, if anyone out there could point me in the right direction, thinks they can do it or anything at all..........let's hash it out. Your help is greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Unless you need lots, getting punches made is impractical you would need to punch them and then have them heat treated . Have you looked into water jet or laser cutting? How many do you need?


    • #3
      Laser cut them. It is cheap, quick, and dead on as far as accuracy goes.


      • #4
        Over the course of my career? I'm going to need alot. And not only for my own use. There are others that are waiting for this to come to fruition as well. What needs heat treated? I just want four small arbor presses in my shop so I can walk over. Knock out a spring and get about my day.


        • #5
          Can't have anything that creates heat. Changes the temper of the spring stock and they will crack very quickly.


          • #6
            Water jet, to my understanding, doesn't create heat. It is actually an abrasive slurry mixed with water. As the water is forced at high pressure for the cut, it also continually cools the work.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Arthur.Marks
              Water jet, to my understanding, doesn't create heat. It is actually an abrasive slurry mixed with water. As the water is forced at high pressure for the cut, it also continually cools the work.
              yeah but he's not going to walk over the water jet in the corner in the middle of doing some tramp stamp

              Originally posted by BDK
              Can't have anything that creates heat. Changes the temper of the spring stock and they will crack very quickly.
              generally you'd stamp then heat treat (harden then temper), stamping isn't my strong area but i would think stamping a hardened part would be where you'd have trouble
              with cracking and tooling that didn't last as long as it should

              I do think water jet is the best idea using tempered spring stock....get a few years worth made and tuck them away in an envelope in a drawer
              Last edited by Mcgyver; 03-28-2011, 06:41 PM.


              • #8
                Yes sir. Waterjet cutting would be great. It is indeed expensive however. I'm looking for someone who might be willing to take this on as a challenge, or in trade, something like that. Once a set is made...then I can cut whatever gauge spring I want, 17-20 gauge...whenever I need it.


                • #9
                  if you buy the material annealed then punch, the heat treating.tempering part isn't that big a deal


                  • #10
                    The other problem with waterjet cutting is..........finding a big sheet of spring steel? Far as I know it only comes in 1/2 and 3/8" bands. And the right stuff is hard to find even at that. The stuff I use is blued spring steel, 1/2" from Mcmaster Carr. And I've mentioned water jet cutting to my mentor, it's a no go for some reason. He wants them punched. and punched only. All good ideas and I really appreciate the info, I just need to find a way to get these punches made without re-mortgaging my house.


                    • #11
                      If you're worried about heat, have them cut from hardened and tempered spring stock with a waterjet cutter. Alternately, use annealed spring stock and have them cut with a laser and then heat treat them appropriately. The heat affected zone from the laser may be small enough that it doesn't effect the heat treated spring anyway.

                      Alternately, since you are posting on Home Shop Machinist, get a book on punch and die design and make the punches and dies. This may get a bit expensive even doing it yourself as you will need to get them heat treated etc. You could probably get away with making them with something like O2 which can be easily heat treated. You might even get away with 4140 prehard although it may not last long on hard spring steel.

                      The method of making those dies devised by the shop that quoted might use a progressive die set which would allow for high throughput but be relatively costly. That may account for the high quote. At a $100 an hour shop rate, 4000 dollars amounts to a week of a die maker's time. You might do better with the shop that quoted if you explained that this is for low rate production on non-automated equipment if you didn't already.

                      From my brief readings of books on die making, a commercial die would need spring loaded parts to keep the scrap bits from the holes from clogging the die etc. I haven't ever made any dies so I'm just saying what I think of based on reading a die making book a year or two ago.

                      The other thing that could make the water jet cutting cost effective is putting 5 or 10 layers of the spring steel on the waterjet at once
                      and having it cut them all at the same time. I've seen waterjets go through an inch of material at a time and still have the cut seem as straight as it was at the top. If your mentor is a tatoo guy and not a machinist, then I would suspect that he has no idea what a waterjet is or its capabilities and he's just trying to make things the way he knew they were made elsewhere. If he is a machinist and a tatoo guy then perhaps he is thinking of some kind of point.

                      I did a quick look on the internet and what McMaster has is 1095 steel which has been hardened and tempered as blue spring steel. A good steel distributor can certainly get you any size and shape you want in 1095. The first steel vendor with a google ad was

                      Last edited by ckelloug; 03-28-2011, 06:59 PM.


                      • #12
                        Hmmm... Sure this isn't a hazing stunt? Mentor to BDK: "Find me some unobtanium!"


                        • #13
                          Progressive die sets for each spring should run $1500-$1900, approximately. That should cover an actual die set, punch, punches, and die. D2 would be a solid choice of materials.

                          That's for each spring type.

                          The material should be in an annealed state.

                          So aside from the initial costs, you'll need a press, or someplace with one to run the parts, transport or shipping, heat treat, and finishing. Thats gonna add up fast, unless your doing large quantities.

                          You might want to check with a few of the large spring manufacturers as most of them cut custom springs at an affordable price. Unfortunately I'm moving and just packed all of my contact info for those manufacturers away or I'd tell you who to call.


                          Water jet could be the route to go otherwise. Although I'm not positive, I'm pretty sure you'll have no issues cutting from hardened stock, tolerances will be good with an intelligent operator on a good machine, and cost will be way way lower than the die option.

                          If you can provide whatever place with the waterjet, a DXF of the parts to be cut you should save some money too.

                          Best of luck!


                          • #14
                            I've punched and sheared 32ga. (~.010) blue spring steel without problems but 18ga. is in the .050" range or dang close to it. I would think that's enough to chip most punch dies so it would need to be punched then spring tempered. And, you won't punch 18ga. with no "small arbor press" either. That looks to me like about a 10-15 ton punch press job.

                            It's not likely that you will be using the same equipment over your career. But if that's a valid assertion, it seems the equipment manufacturer would be able to supply parts for the machines. Why not go there first? Don't they make spare parts?

                            Also, what do you mean by the springs need to be balanced?


                            • #15
                              Yeah, what do they cost from the manufacturer? Are you stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime?