Patrick Thomas Patrick Thomas
Customer Service Manager

10 Questions: How to Determine Which Type of Control to Outfit to Your Press

February 26, 2024

A stamping press’s basic function and methodology have not changed much over the years, but the way that the press is driven and controlled has. Press controls have advanced over the years, and their features and options have proliferated. 

1. How have press controls advanced during the last few years?

A press controller’s main purpose is to control the motion of the press to ensure operator and press safety, ease press operation, and maximize productivity and quality, and that has not changed. Most press controls have been refined over time. The most significant advancement is auxiliary communication that allows press controls to connect and communicate with multiple pieces of equipment, including computer servers. 

2. How can a stamper choose the right control for its press operation? What should the stamper look for?

This would start with an evaluation of the stamper’s current production process, while considering future applications. The stamper should decide whether the standard features meet its needs, or if the control must be customized with options. Standard press control features should include:

  • Fully programmable color touchscreens
  • Easy-to-use settings 
  • A minimum of four die protection and process-monitoring inputs located in the operator terminal, with nine monitoring modes available for each die protection input
  • Four programmable-limit-switch outputs to sequence and time automation with the press
  • At least 56 control inputs and eight sets of dual-tracking safety control inputs 
  • Stopping-time-performance (brake) monitor, motion detection and clutch-engagement-time monitor
  • Stroking modes with, at minimum: off, inch, automatic timed inch, setup/stop-time test, single stroke (cycle) and continuous
  • 100-job-capacity storage and recall
  • Nine-digit counters for stroke, parts, batch and quality
  • Redundant safety dual-microprocessor logic systems.

Optional features may be needed or preferred to accommodate growth and future needs:

  • Larger touchscreen
  • Alternative languages, such as Spanish
  • Additional job storage, to 1000 jobs
  • Additional die protection/process-monitoring inputs and programmable-limit-switch outputs
  • Additional modes, such as automatic single stroke (cycle), maintained continuous and continuous on demand.

3. How do servomechanical press controls differ from mechanical press controls?

Stroke_ProfilesOne of the biggest differences between mechanical and servo press controls is the use of cam-based functions. These typically use linear distances during stroking instead of angle-based settings, as servo presses have many more special stroke profiles that traditional mechanicals can’t perform.  

Servo press controls enable operators to request unique profiles, while customized motion curves allow as many as 20 various segments in a cycle curve, defined by segment position, speed and pause-duration parameters.

Integrated servo press controls on direct-drive and link-assisted servo presses allow an unlimited number of stroke lengths and slide-movement profiles, while supplying full working energy capacity, even at low speeds. With servo press controls, operators can perform a variety of jobs—drawing, restriking, warm forming—in one press.  

Standard features for a servo press control should include:

  • Automatic slide adjustment and die-height auto-correction (optical linear sensor)
  • Pulse-generator wheel for die tryout 
  • Press-speed optimization during the working and nonworking portion of the stroke 
  • Synchronization with the servo press’s various speeds, with other presses and with automation
  • Ethernet link
  • Task-assignment software.

4. What are some essential features and capabilities? Which types of applications require optional features?

Essential features include tool storage availability, cam/PLS channels and some die-protection channels, along with having a good diagnostic menu for troubleshooting and spotting faults. Also, a stamper should ask for expansion availability for extra cams and die protection. A tonnage-monitor option would be next on the list, as this is a valuable tool to use for process control and tooling condition monitoring, and to know how hard the press is working, tonnage-wise.    

5. How do press controls provide die protection?

Typically, die protection is standard for most press controls; however, the available number of circuits and channels varies. Generally, most large press controls come with eight circuits as standard, with options for additional circuits. Die protection allows for users to integrate and program their tooling and production monitoring sensors easily. Most press controls come equipped with designed and implemented die-protection modules for many common production-monitoring functions.

6. What is a configurable controller?

This is more of an option/availability on a press control than a type of press control. Most of the major press controllers have—or can offer—configurable inputs, both dual-safety (dual cross-checked pairs) and single, non-safety inputs to use for auxiliary equipment to stop and notify of some error. The term “configurable” also may be referred to as “programmable,” depending on the press control brand, but both do the same thing.  

7. Is there a type of press control that allows access to press production remotely?

Most press controls, especially the major brands, offer optional access to remote servers. Some may require additional software or firmware updates to allow remote communication, but most come with communication ports as standard.

8. Can a press control also control the feed line?

No, not for dedicated press controls. Integration from the feeder control to the press control to let the feeder be the master is the common way to achieve that. This would be applicable for long feed lengths. Some press controls do offer a servo-feed interface, with some feedlines that allow for some information exchange such as feed speed and feed length. That can be stored in the press control’s tool-storage menus.

9. How would a high-volume, mild-steel stamping application control differ from one for a high-strength-steel automotive structural part?

This would come down to options needed for the process. Control options for stamping high-tensile-strength steel in a high-tonnage press may need the press controls to be housed in a separate cabinet on the floor rather than mounted on the press frame.   

10. Have controls been adapted for use by operators coming onboard who are less experienced but with smartphone and gamer proficiency?

Just because new, young operators are good at touching buttons, that does not make them better operators. Most controls offer layers of password protection that limit what inexperienced operators and setup techs can do and require a supervisor with a higher-level passcode to access complicated functions and features. MF


Patrick Thomas is customer service manager, Stamtec Metal Stamping and Forming Equipment;

Industry-Related Terms: Color, Die, Forming, Stroke
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Stamtec, Inc.

Technologies: Pressroom Automation, Sensing/Electronics/IOT


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