Automotive die redesigned and reshored

Boehm Pressed Steel - USA


Quality cost remains one of the most common offshore problems. According to the Reshoring Initiative’s 2017 Data Report, quality is the most frequently cited reason for reshoring manufacturing to North America. “Reshoring” is the practice of bringing manufacturing and services back to the North America from overseas.

Boehm Pressed Steel, a Cleveland, OH area die shop and stamper has been operating since 1918 and is known for taking on the tough jobs, the ones nobody else can do. This expertise was recently leaned upon to redevelop and redesign an offshore developed process supplying parts to a North American based automotive OEM, so that the work returns to America.

In Boehm’s case, the job revolved around a set of five single-hit dies developed offshore that had been used to produce a pair of brackets. The process had been failing in many areas and making the parts to print resulted in splits and cracks, so the toolmaker needed to enlarge a critical part feature radius by 3 mm. The hand transfer stamping process required five different press operators and an inspector.

Eventually the 40 to 65 percent rework rate became unacceptable, so tooling and/or process changes were required. The carryover part, not being manufactured to the original print, had to be re-PPAP’d, and the OEM asked Boehm to take it over and redesign the tooling to get it back to print. They requested a timeframe of 18 to 20 weeks to get the tooling ready for production, in order to meet a 5-year program at 300,000 parts per year.

Increasing the production volume required Boehm to re-invent the process from hand transfer to progressive. Boehm needed a quick turnaround when testing their ideas to redevelop the job to increase quality and robustness. To reduce the process development time, they relied on FormingSuite Professional from Forming Technologies (FTI), part of Hexagon, Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

“FormingSuite Professional accurately depicted any problems (digital twin) we would likely have encountered on the shop floor, without having to spend time and money to prove out our tooling concepts,” says Boehm Designer & Tooling Engineer, Don Mikuluk. “The software predicts stamping defects saving us at least two weeks on the front end of the project, and easily accommodated any engineering changes necessary along the way. Every problem that FormingSuite revealed in simulation we experienced with the prototype—thinning, splitting and wrinkling,” adds Mikuluk.

FormingSuite Professional comprises of several software modules, a tool for developing optimal blank geometry based on material stretch and deformation; tools for zeroing in on the forming conditions such as blankholder force, draw-bead placement and use of pressure pads; virtual die prove out tools for detailed formability analysis and simulation.

Boehm also utilized COSTOPTIMIZER for nesting blanks on progressive die strips to optimize material utilization based on coil width, progression, and blank angle constraints to scientifically and precisely determine the material cost for accurate quoting and estimating.

“With each design iteration we were able to run simulations in several minutes with the software,” continues Mikuluk, “compared to a 4- to 5-day process of machining and remachining die blocks. We gained confidence in our die designs in minutes rather than days.”

Using FormingSuite Professional and COSTOPTIMIZER allowed Boehm to develop and build a 12-station progressive die in 12 weeks, well under the original timeframe, lower in price than the original tool set, which runs faster and uses 20 percent less material than did the previous process. The new tool also makes the brackets to original part-print dimensions removing all re-work requirements.

“Our piece price is significantly lower than before,” says Mikuluk, “and our die will run at 1000 parts/hr. with one operator.”

Originally, the hand-transfer tool set produced only 250 parts/hr., “on a good day,” adds Mikuluk with a smile.

FormingSuite Professional accurately depicted any problems (digital twin) we would likely have encountered on the shop floor, without having to spend time and money to prove out our tooling concepts