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Welcome to  ‘Ask The Expert’.  This page is moderated by industry consultant, Steve Wilkinson.  This page features the answers to your questions. Our visitors can also post comments to these questions/answers as well.  You can learn more about Steve’s background and our ‘Ask The Expert’ page by Clicking Here.

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May 10, 2010

Can you explain when I should use flexible dies and what if any benefits/disadvantages do they have over solid dies?

Flexible dies using a magnetic cylinder are most often used for shorter run jobs with common repeats.
There are a number of cost advantages when using flexible dies these include, reduced make-ready time when same repeat jobs can use the same magnetic base, less storage space is required, back up tooling is less expensive , and freight costs are much less.
It is vital that you use only cylinders that are in good condition and must run true with minimum TIR.
It is not unknown for flexible dies to move and in some instances it is recommended to actually tape the edges of the die to improve stability.
The smallest repeat recommended for use with flexible dies is 8” so you must ensure that you have a large enough repeat to reduce the possibility of deflection. Most repeat lengths are usually between 12 and 24”, but you also need to consider the press width as well.
Solid tooling is generally used and advisable for longer running jobs as they have greater durability, rigidity , and can be repaired and re-sharpened, flexible dies cannot be repaired and when worn or blunt must be replaced.
Magnetic cylinders are not cheap but if you have many common repeats they are well worth the investment. Most flexible dies can be produced in a few days, solid dies usually take two or more weeks.

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