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What is Piercing metalworking?

Piercing is a shearing process where a punch and die are used to create a hole in sheet metal or a plate. The process and machinery are usually the same as that used in blanking, except that the piece being punched out is scrap in the piercing process.There are many specialized types of piercing: lancing, perforating, notching, nibbling, shaving, cutoff, and dinking.

The amount of clearance between a punch and die for piercing is governed by the thickness and strength of the work-piece material being pierced. The punch-die clearance determines the load or pressure experienced at the cutting edge of the tool, commonly known as point pressure. Excessive point pressure can lead to accelerated wear and ultimately failure.

Burr height is typically used as an index to measure tool wear, because it is easy to measure during production.

Piercing Process:


It has been suggested that Lancing (shearing) be merged into this article or section.

Lancing is the specialized piercing process of forming a line cut in the workpiece without completely removing the tab. Usually a die pad is used to form the tab at the same time. A common example of this is the louvers in a locker door.


Perforation refers to the puncturing of a material with a harder (usually sharp) object to create a hole or aperture. Peforation or microperforation can be created by pins, needles, die and punch or laser. Rotary pinned perforation rollers are precision tools that can be used to perforate a wide veriety of materials. The pins / needles can be used cold or heated. Cold perforating can cause a volcanic structure in the material, which can be beneficial for a number of applications. Hot needle perforation melts the material being perforated, and creates a reinforcing ring around the hole. This can also be beneficial in many applications, as the ring assists in keeping the integrity of the material. There are a handful of manufacturers that specialize in hot and cold needle perforation tooling and equipment. Pinned rollers can be made from a veriety of materials to include plastic, steel, aluminum, or other materials. Pinned sleeves can be slid onto a central shaft, so that pin patterns may be interchanged at will.

Die and punch sets can be used for thicker materials, or materials that require large gauge holes. The material is sheared by the sharp edges of the punch and die, and the chad is removed. One will see punched perforations in fruit produce bags.

Laser perforation can place many precise holes in a web. Laser perforations look similar in many respects to hot needle perforations. However there is a price to pay for a laser system. They can be expensive to purchase and maintain. Many use an array of mirrors to direct the beam of light.
One of the most common perforations are found in stamps.

Perforation holes on a pair of coil stamps A perforation is a hole made by puncturing a surface. However, the term frequently refers to the practice of creating a long series of holes so that paper can be torn more easily along a given line. Postage stamps are one common application of this, where small round holes are cut in lines to create individual pieces (see postage stamp separation). Since the creation of perforation devices in the 1840s and 1850s, it has seen use in several areas. It is common for notebooks and legal pads to have perforations making it easier to tear out individual pages. Perforations on stamps are rather large, on the order of a millimetre, in comparison other perforated materials often have smaller holes. Film stock is perforated to allow it to be moved precise distances at a time continuously. Screw caps on glass or plastic bottles are sealed with a ring at the bottom of the cap attached by perforation. Twisting the cap has the effect of rupturing the perforation and indicating that the original seal has been broken.

In today's cases, perforation is used in ways to separate loose leaf (or even a form of graph paper from a ringed binder). A fine perforation next to the rings allows the page to be separated from the book with no confetti.


Notching is a metal-cutting process used on sheetmetal or thin barstock, sometimes on angle sections or tube. A shearing or punching process is used in a press, so as to cut vertically down and perpendicular to the surface, working from the edge of a workpiece. Sometimes the goal is merely the notch itself, but usually this is a precursor to some other process: such as bending a corner in sheet or joining two tubes at a tee joint, notching one to fit closely to the other.

Notching is a low-cost process, particularly for its low tooling costs with a small range of standard punches. The capital cost of the punch press can be expensive though, so small fabrication shops often out-source their notching work to a press shop. Notching of large or heavy sections, particularly for large tube fabrication or HVAC, is increasingly carried out by plasma cutting rather than punch tools.

The accuracy of punch notching is good, depending on the care with which it's carried out. For manual folding work, prior notching can often improve resultant accuracy of the folding itself.

The speed of notching is usually limited by manual handling when loading the workpieces into the press. Pieces some feet long may be manually loaded into a single-stroke press. Smaller pieces are still generally hand-fed, limiting speeds to perhaps 100 strokes / minute.

Almost any workable metal can be notched. It's particularly suitable where the metal is otherwise awkward to drill, such as stainless steels, titanium or previously heat-treated aluminium alloys.

Tube notching

Bicycle frame in steel tube, notched at the joints before TIG welding or brazingTube notching is commonly performed before joining light-gauge tubes to make a tee or similar joint, as by welding. Either one or both tubes may be notched before assembly. A familiar example of tube notching is in the manufacture of bicycle frames.

End notching works the end of the tube, such as a semicircular concavity to make the base of a tee, or a convex vee to fit into a mitre.

Vee-notched tube, bent for assembly of a mitred jointSide notching (also called offset notching) works the side of a tube with a vee notch for bending, semicircular or vee notches for tee joint.

Tube being hollow, it's not practical to use a simple punch operation to notch it, as it would be squashed. Although punching is possible, it requires support mandrels and awkward handling. Where tube is worked with a punch press other than for side notching, this is generally described as slotting.

Tube notching for fabrication of circular tube is thus usually done with a rotary hole saw instead, a saw of the diameter of the tube to be attached. This produces a semi-circular notch. Rather than using large presses, such saw notching may only require a simple jig, also making it suitable for on-site working.

Notching in thin-wall tube may also be carried out by abrasive tools, reducing some of the risk of damage from a hole saw snatching. This also allows more complex shapes to be performed, such as vee notches. In some cases, a helical end mill cutter may be used.

Notch and bend

Vee notches in tube, particularly square tube, may be cut so deep as to cut almost through the tube: three sides of a square tube. This then allows the tube to be bent into a mitred corner, usually finished by welding.

On a smaller scale for jewellery making, this operation is performed by hand-filing precious-metal strip before bending and soldering to make box frames or stone mounts

The notching process removes material from the edge of the workpiece.

The nibbling process cuts a contour by producing a series of overlapping slits or notches. This allows for complex shapes to be formed in sheet metal up to 6 mm (0.25 in) thick using simple tools. The process is often used on parts that do not have quantities that can justify a dedicated blanking die. The edge smoothness is determined by the shape of the cutting die and the amount the cuts overlap; naturally the more the cuts overlap the cleaner the edge.

The shaving process is a finish operation where a small amount of metal is sheared away from an already blanked part. Its main purpose is to obtain better dimensional accuracy, but secondary purposes include squaring the edge and smoothing the edge. Blanked parts can be shaved to an accuracy of up to 0.025 mm (0.001 in).

The cutoff process is used to separate a stamping or other product from a strip or stock. This operation is very common with progressive die sequences. The cutoff operation often produces the periphery counter to the workpiece.

It has been suggested that Dinking operations be merged into this article or section.

The dinking process is a modified form of piercing used on low strength materials, such as rubber, fibers, and cloth. The die may be pressed into the material with a hammer or a mechanical press.


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