DeeZee Manufacturing increases punch life with Ultima® tool steel and AlCrN coating

DeeZee Manufacturing provides the automotive industry with a variety of standard and custom truck accessories, including tool boxes, running boards and steps, bed rail protection and other related components.


A few years ago, the Iowa-based manufacturer was working on a suspension connecting link for the automotive industry. Fabricated from thick, .3125”, hot-rolled steel, the finished part required a shaving operation, but with high speed and high friction, soon the manufacturing team ran into challenges with prematurely worn out punches that shot down productivity.

“We were only getting between 20,000 and 25,000 parts off the press before we had to replace the punch,” said Tom Nicholls, tool and die manager at DeeZee Manufacturing. “It was a challenging run overall, because we were running at a relatively high speed and performing a shaving operation through very thick material.”

The particular shaving operation Nicholls and his team needed to achieve varies from traditional stamping. Rather than simply piercing a hole with a stamping die, the operation shaved the material all the way down the sides. Working at high speeds and using the thick material created a great deal of problematic friction.

“In this particular application we were piercing a hole and then shaving it to 1.402”,” Nicholls said. “The die was flooded with coolant during the entire stamping process, but the thickness that this punch had to shave, then strip back through the material, as well as the speed at which we were running the die, made for a challenging combination that resulted in very short punch life.”

After about 20,000 to 25,000 hits, Nicholls and his team would lose the proper dimension for the hole diameter and would have to change the punch. Changing the punch with such frequency presented further challenges in terms of downtime and reduced productivity.

“Because we weren’t getting the life out of the punch that we needed, we had to pull it out of the press for service more frequently,” Nicholls said. “That process takes between six and eight hours to service the punch and then get the entire operation back up and running.”

With increasing downtime and punch life concerns, DeeZee Manufacturing turned to Wilson Tool to help find a solution to effectively produce the part.

“We worked with Wilson Tool through a pretty lengthy trial and error process,” Nicholls said. “We tried different punches and different coatings, but no matter what we tried the dimension would eventually go bad because of the wear on the punch. Everything we tried was just a temporary fix — we eventually had to keep moving on to new solutions.”

During the trial and error process, DeeZee Manufacturing and Wilson Tool eventually found a winning, lasting combination: Wilson Tool’s Xtreme Punch made with the company’s exclusive Ultima® tool steel and enhanced with AlCrN coating. Part of the Impax Tooling Solutions® line of tooling, the Ultima® tool steel is extremely durable and built to withstand high-volume and high frequency stamping applications that use heavy materials. The AlCrN coating provides a much tougher surface with added wear resistance, which makes it well suited for high-impact applications.

“We finally discovered a solution that resulted in about three times the punch life,” Nicholls said. “With the new punch material and new coating, this solution jumped our punch life up to about 70,000 to 75,000 hits.”

Having solved the punch life challenge together, DeeZee Manufacturing credits the solution to the strong partnership the company has enjoyed with Wilson Tool for nearly a decade.

“There are so many benefits we receive from working with Wilson Tool,” Nicholls said. “Their customer service is great, their engineering department is very responsive when we send custom orders or specials, and they get things turned around pretty quickly. Overall, that’s the kind of company we enjoy doing business with.”

May 04, 2015