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Sheet metal fabrication is a complex manufacturing process used to pierce, punch, bend and blank metal sheets into a variety of shapes.

Dies are the main components. Dies perform each technique and, although there are many different varieties, they can be categorised into two types: cutting and forming dies.


Cutting dies are used for common cutting operations. Some of these include: punching, piercing, blanking, trimming and shearing.

Usually, metal is stressed to the point of failure; whilst being positioned between two dies, the sheet is severed as the die cutting edges move past each other. The gap between the two dies is referred to as the cutting clearance which is conveyed as a percentage of the metal thickness. It depends on the properties of the chosen metal, the chosen cutting operation and the desired edge condition.


Forming dies are used for common forming operations which differ from cutting methods. These dies change the appearance and the form of the sheet metal without removing material.

Some of these dies include:

Bending Dies

Bending dies are used to deform sheet metal along a straight axis; the various methods of bending include wipe bending, V bending, and rotary bending.

Flanging Dies

Flanging dies are also used to deform sheet metal but along a curved axis; there are two types of flanges available, tension and compression flanges.

Stretching Dies

Stretching dies reduce the metal sheet’s thickness and creates impressions thereby reforming the metal’s shape.

Drawing Dies

By utilising a pressure-loaded plate or ring, drawing dies have the ability to control the metal flow into a cavity and over the forming punch in order to create the part shape without wrinkling.

Coining Dies

Coining dies are often used to reduce the sheet metal thickness by applying extreme pressure so the die penetrates the part.

Ironing Dies

Ironing dies also use extreme pressure in sheet metal stamping but apply this along a vertical wall so the thickness is uniform.

If you need any help or advice on which dies you should use for your application, contact us today.

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