What are Steel-Rule Dies?

Steel-rule die

Steel-rule dies, also known as cookie-cutter dies, are used to cut sheet metal and softer webs, such as plastics, wood, corks, felts, fabrics and cardboard. The cutting surface of the die is the edge of hardened steel strips, known as steel rule. These steel rules are usually located using saw-cut grooves in plywood. The mating die can be a flat pieces of hardwood or steel, a male shape that matches the workpiece profile, or it can have a matching groove that allows the rule to nest into. Rubber strips are wedged in with the steel rule to act as the stripper plate; the rubber compresses on the down-stroke and on the up-stroke it pushes the workpiece out of the die. The main advantage of steel-rule dies is the low cost to make them, as compared to solid dies; however, they are not as robust as solid dies, so they usually only used for short production runs.

Die components

The main components for Die Toolsets are:

  • Die block – This is the main part that all the other parts are attached to.
  • Punch plate – This part holds and supports the different punches in place.
  • Blank punch – This part along with the Blank Die produces the blanked part.
  • Pierce punch – This part along with the Pierce Die removes parts from the blanked finished part.
  • Stripper plate – This is used to hold the material down on the Blank/ Pierce Die and strip the material off the punches.
  • Pilot – This is used to keep the material being worked on in position.
  • Guide / Back gage / Finger stop – These parts are all used to make sure that the material being worked on always goes in the same position, within the die, as the last one.
  • Setting (Stop) Block – This part is used to control the depth that the punch goes into the die.