With “lean manufacturing” driving innovation in the metal forming industry, manufacturers are inundated with products and procedures designed to improve productivity and maximize uptime. Quick Die Change systems (QDC), one of the most widely recognized lean manufacturing methods available today, have become increasingly popular due to the rapid return-on-investment and relatively simple implementation.
Although the basics of QDC are well understood, tailoring a program to fit a company’s operational requirements can be challenging. Budget, production goals, die size, shop layout and tooling design influence what type of Quick Die Change system is best for your application. It is not uncommon to mix different systems to accommodate each plant’s unique layout and the limitations of each press.
Benefits of Quick Die Change Systems
- Increased Productivity – In today’s market, many manufacturers rely on high mix production to remain competitive, making a quick die change system essential to success. A Beckwood hydraulic press integrated with a Quick Die Change System can substantially reduce changeover times through automation, increase production capacity as a result of efficiencies, improve part quality, and increase process repeatability.
- Reduced Wear and Tear on Machines and Die Sets – Improper die position and inconsistent clamping can be detrimental to your press and dies, but incorporating a quick die change system eliminates the guesswork from die installation. For example, die rollers allow your dies to slide effortlessly so you can place them with pinpoint accuracy. Additionally, a broad range of clamping options (many with pressure monitoring devices) can be incorporated to provide constant and repeatable tool clamping.
- Quick Return on Investment – A high-quality Quick Die Change system can be a substantial investment, and individual systems should be considered carefully before selection. However, shop owners and press operators agree that a well-designed Quick Die Change system can substantially increase the overall efficiency of an organization. While the return on investment varies between different facilities, the savings in time alone will often pay for the entire system.
Quick Die Change Options
Beckwood can incorporate a variety of Quick Die Change systems and automation options into any press. Deciding which features are best for your operation can be a challenge, but with the help of our Solutions Team, designing a QDC system that optimizes your process is a lot less daunting. Below are a few of the Quick Die Change components we offer.
Automated Die Storage & Retrieval System (ASRS): The ASRS uses a trolley cart and T-table to stage dies while the press is running production. When the current run ends, airbags lift the tool, allowing it to be shuttled from the T-table into the press. Once the tool is in position, hydraulic clamps lock it in place, completing the die change sequence. While the newly loaded tool is running in the press, the ASRS returns the previous tool to its storage location and begins to stage the next sequence. Learn how one aerospace supplier reduced die change-over time from 2 hours to 10 minutes with the ASRS.
Die consoles/bolster extensions: Die consoles are extension supports that facilitate easy loading and unloading of the die. Depending on your needs, there are several options available:
- Fixed die consoles are permanent, non-removable, and locked in position
- Lift-off consoles can be easily removed vertically
- Hinged consoles pivot up to the press frame to reduce the footprint while not in use
- Sliding consoles allow for multiple die sizes with only two consoles
Die lifters (Hydraulic or Pneumatic): Die lifters allow you to effortlessly move dies into and out of the press with a flip of a switch.
- “Roller style” lifters use multiple rollers to easily move the die in one axis but can sometimes be difficult to position a die from side to side.
- “Ball style” lifters use balls instead of rollers, allowing the user more flexibility in die positioning as the die can be moved in any direction. With “ball style” rollers, the bottom of the die plate must me made of hardened tool steel as the contact area is very small and will lead to gouges in mild steel over time.
Magnetic platens: Using a magnetic field to hold the die in place, magnetic platens are the fastest and easiest method of die retention. Once the die is positioned, the operator simply extends the ram to the top of the die and flips a switch to activate the magnetic field. The use of heated tooling with magnetic platens can be challenging, but by adjusting internal operating procedures, they can be as safe and reliable as traditional clamping systems.
Hydraulic clamping system: T-slot style hydraulic clamps use standard bolster t-slots for mounting. Clamps are slid into a matching u-slot cut in the tooling, and hydraulic pressure is applied to clamp the tool in place. The hydraulic pressure is locked to ensure the clamp will not release even in the event of a power failure. When a tool change is required, hydraulic pressure is applied to release the clamp.
Ledge clamp system: When hydraulic pressure is applied to a ledge clamp system, the clamp nose moves downward onto the plate, locking the die. When hydraulic pressure is released, the clamps open under internal spring force. Ledge clamp systems are optimal for tooling with a common sized baseplate that can be slid under the clamp and remotely activated. The main benefit of a ledge clamping system is safety. Since it requires no interaction from the operator, the risk of injury is minimal. Additionally, if ledge clamps are used on the upper tooling, the die cannot fall even if hydraulic pressure is lost.
Bed shuttles: The benefits of press bed shuttles are twofold. The shuttle can either extend the bed bolster outside of the press allowing for overhead tool loading, or it can be used to bring the lower tool outside of the press for easy part loading / unloading and tool cleaning.
Dual bed shuttles are often used in applications requiring prolonged in-press cycle time, extended load and unload times, and high productivity rates. With a traditional dual shuttle system, two identical lower tools are used in conjunction with one upper tool. The upper tool remains mounted on the press ram while the two lower tools are mounted to individual shuttles. As one tool is being processed in the press, the other is unloaded and reloaded with raw material. This ability to constantly cycle the dies increases production in applications with long processing times.
Triform Bed Shuttles: Every Triform sheet hydroforming press can be equipped with various shuttle options. The fluid cell tray-style machines use a bed shuttle to facilitate part and blank loading and unloading, which improves the cycle time. Deep draw hydroforming presses use a shuttle system to easily change punch / blank holders. Watch a video of the Triform bed shuttles in action!
Contact us to begin the process of engineering a fully-automated press system to meet your manufacturing needs!