Could purchasing tooling based on price be a thing of the past? Once considered a perishable commodity, stamping tooling was often an easy target for cost-cutting measures. In an attempt to trim costs up front, shops would reduce the cost of the die where they could and buy tooling cheap because it was perishable.

However, any experienced toolmaker will tell you that cutting corners on tooling will cost you more money in the long run. Punches and dies that fail are frequently the reason for production interruptions. Each time a die goes down or punch needs to be reground production stops and you are no longer making money.

Victory Tool Die Sets
Photo courtesy of Victory Tool.

More often than not, when a die goes down it’s because it is cheaply made. Keep in mind that every minute it takes to replace a die equals money lost. So it makes sense that the life of “perishable” tooling has a significant impact on your bottom line.

Additionally, the introduction of advanced high-strength steels to the stamping industry, while great for light-weighting and strengthening of the finished part, wreaks havoc on punches and dies in terms of increased wear.

Today’s stamping applications demand more advanced tooling that is designed to withstand the rigors of stronger steels and faster presses without sacrificing quality. The value of a punch or die now lies in how long it will run, rather than how inexpensive it is.

Fortunately, new tool steels, coatings and surface finishes are optimized to improve tool life and keep a die in the press longer. With the right tooling, you can often run a die for an entire production order then switch over to a new tool. This enables you to perform preventative maintenance on one tool set while running other products without interrupting production.

Many shops demand to see double or even triple the tool life to justify purchasing a more expensive die. However, it’s important to consider more than the upfront tool cost alone. You must also take into account all of the indirect costs that go into bringing a die back online and add it to the lost revenue. You’ll see that even a 25% productivity gain in tooling warrants the extra up-front costs.

Tooling today can be designed to meet finished product demands not only in hole shape and form but also to match the forces being created by the new advanced high strength steels. Starting with the die design, many of the problems you will see during production can be avoided by evaluating punch options with your tooling suppliers and die builders.

Coating Options

Can’t keep the die in the press? Look at what tooling you currently have and consider changing tool steel, adding coatings or maybe even altering the finish to keep the press up and running. These are all modifications you can make to a punch so it lasts longer.

Higher quality punches and dies may cost more initially, but pay dividends in longer tool life, greater performance and increased reliability. In the end, the goal is to run through an entire production order and maximize your press uptime. By taking the time to bring your tooling up to date, you will see the gains in the bottom line.

Want to learn more about long lasting tooling solutions for stamping? Visit our website, or contact our tooling technicians at 800-944-4671,


AHSS Articles

Punching advanced high-strength steels takes a toll on punches. Designing the punch to last is one step to take in fortifying punches against AHSS. Beyond design, there are many elements of the manufacturing process that can create tooling strong enough to withstand the challenges of this difficult material.

These two published articles explore how to successfully stamp with AHSS.

Stamping Journal lists 5 ways to prepare your tooling for the demands of AHSS.

This article in Canadian Fabricating & Welding shows you how to evaluate what improvements will help outcomes with AHSS.


HP Accu-Lock Product Image

Instead of considering Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) as your end-goal for stamping efficiency, there are further steps you can take to reduce press downtime. Automated die changes, faster die service and prevention of unexpected downtime are other important steps.

Read more in this article from FABShop Magazine Direct.


Tool Storage Rack

Producing high-volume, high-carbon steel parts for the automotive industry, Automatic Spring Products in Grand Haven, MI can’t afford to have punches wear out quickly. Keeping a component supply inventory and embarking on a predictive/preventive maintenance program are part of their strategy.

Find out what other tactics they employ to take care of wear before it starts in this Metalforming Magazine article.


Kevin Frane

Meet Kevin Frane, the Director of Operations for the Stamping Division.

Kevin has been with Wilson Tool since 2013. He has an AA in Machine Design, a BS in Industrial Technology and an MBA. His favorite accomplishments are directing the greenfield start of a $50M business division, relocating and expanding multiple manufacturing facilities, and overseeing continued growth within seasoned markets.

Outside of work, he enjoys spending time at the lake, motorcycling, hunting and fishing.

To learn more about the leaders of Wilson Tool International in North America, visit our USA leadership page.



LEAN 1.0

By popular demand, our LEAN seminars are back. Attend this in-person event to learn LEAN manufacturing principles that will improve the productivity of your shop and minimize excess cost and waste. Derived from the Toyota Production System or Just In Time production, LEAN manufacturing is a proven method for optimizing your output.

LEAN 1.0 is ideal for those with no LEAN training, or a basic understanding of LEAN principles.

Date: September 20, 2018
Time: 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Wilson Tool International Headquarters
12912 Farnham Avenue
White Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA


Wilson Tool will be exhibiting at FABTECH, the largest fabrication expo in North America. Stop by our booth for the latest solutions in tooling.

Wilson Tool International
Booth A2221
November 6 - 8, 2018
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA


Wilson Tool’s Minnesota headquarters in will be closed on Monday, September 3 for the Labor Day holiday. We will return to normal business hours on 9/4. We wish you all a very happy and relaxing labor day.