Table-driven sheet-metal punch tools

If you do much sheet-metal design, chances are your shop has a large collection of punch tools for creating both common and speciality cuts and embossed features on your parts. You can use the sheet-metal Punch iFeature to incorporate these features in your sheet-metal part models.

Sheet Metal Punch iFeature

Often, sheet-metal punch tools are similar, varying only by one or two parameters. These types of features lend themselves to definition by a table of parameters. Single sheet-metal Punch iFeatures can be converted to a family of table-driven punches by using the iFeature Author command. Table-driven punch tools can be further edited later using the Microsoft Excel Spread Sheet.


Creating the Punch Shape
Create the sheet-metal Punch iFeature using the sheet-metal default template, keep the sketches and features as simple as possible and don’t forget to name important parameters.

Create the Punch Shape - Features

Extract iFeature Dialogue Box

Once you have created the punch shape and authored it to be a sheet-metal punch iFeature you will need to add other sizes of the punch shape. You will need to open and edit the IDE file just created.

Open the iFeature (IDE) file to add more sizes
Inventor Application Menu > Manage > View iFeature Catalog
Double Click on the IDE file previously created.

Punch IDE File
Punch iFeature Author - Insert & Edit Rows

Make sure the column named Thickness is edited to include the word Thickness, this way the punch iFeature will always cut through the material regardless of how thick it is.

Click OK to dismiss the Punch iFeature Author Dialogue Box then Save and Close the IDE File.

Now that you have created your new punch tool, let’s put it to the test.

Create a new sheet-metal component (or open an existing one) and start the Punch Tool. Select the IDE file you have created.

The Punch Tool Dialog box will display and you will be able to select the Punch Tool size you’d like from the list in the Punch TAB.

Select the Punch size from the list, the sketch will update to show the correct size when the Refresh button is pressed.

Select the Punch Size based upon the list

Test your punch tool by using several different sizes in your sheet-metal part.

Multiple Sized Punch tools

Note: Once a sheet-metal Punch iFeature is converted by the iFeature Author, it can no longer be modified with the Edit iFeature command. To modify a table-driven sheet-metal Punch iFeature, you can add new rows to the table or define different parameter values in the table. The new version of the iFeature can then replace the current version as required.

In my Next Post I’ll discuss how to give each punch shape its own customised Punch ID; Automatically annotate the punch shape with its Punch ID in your DWG file, and how to prepare your sheet-metal part as a DXF file.

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