A Brief History of Fourslide Forming

Previously in our February 2013 Blog, we wrote about some advantages of fourslide fabrication over traditional progressive stamping. Sometimes, we find that with the new generation of engineers and buyers emerging as our customers, many are not aware of the benefits of “Fourslide and Multislide Stamping” in general. That’s probably understandable these days, as fewer manufacturers know how to exploit this time-honored process anymore. In fact, for almost sixty-years Perfection Spring & Stamping is one of the few manufacturing companies that can still offer its customers this superior technology. So maybe we should take a moment to explain to you why “Fourslide fabrication” has historically been so advantageous and what the often misunderstood name actually means.

So-called fourslide machines can trace their origin back to an invention created by E.J. Manville in 1854. The early fourslide wire-forming machines sold by the Manville Brothers Co. of Waterbury, Conn., were the grand-daddies of today’s modern fourslides; but they still crudely executed the same functions, namely, complex formings and stampings done with speed, accuracy, repeatability, economy, and ease.

Fourslide Press - Perfection Spring & StampingBut where did the name “fourslide” come from?  To understand that, you have to know what a slide is and what slide forming is.  A slide is a mechanism to guide a tool — in this case a bending or forming tool — accurately, quickly, and repeatedly and then back out again. Slides are powerful mechanisms built to deliver significant head-on force, and also to deliver that force to the right place, consistently and repeatedly. In other words, in any meeting between workpiece and tool, the tool isn’t going anywhere, and so it’s the workpiece that will bend into the final shape.  In the simplest explanation, a die cuts the metal blank or strip, and the slide forms it into its final shape.

The original fourslides literally had four (4) slides  The four slides were generally arranged in the shape of a plus sign (+), all moving towards the center of the plus sign in a particular sequence to form the part and retreating to release the finished part.

The early fourslides were all horizontal. Very early on, though, people realized that such a simple scheme was impractical and needed a few more motions. Thus were born: the cutoff unit, which separated the workpiece from the rest of the coil of material, and some form of ejector, to remove the workpiece in the (not uncommon) situation that it wouldn’t just co-operate and fall on the floor itself when the work was done. Some machines also include a clamp to hold the part steady while the cutoff is cutting the part off from the rest of the strip. So almost from the beginning, fourslides weren’t really composed of four slides but rather six or seven. However, the four major ones, all symmetric, were the major distinguishing feature of a fourslide, and so the name stuck. No one refers to them as six or seven-slides, although that is in reality what most of them are, with today’s more advanced and complex variations being called Multislides for that very reason.

Fourslide Parts- Perfection Spring & StampingLater, press sections were added to fourslides, and as a result, some people now call them Fourslide presses. The presses on an original fourslide are strange; they operate horizontally. This caused a number of problems, not the least of which is the fact that gravity continues to run vertically, not horizontally, and so the slugs aren’t always easy to get out of a horizontal press.

Here’s a video of the fourslide/multislide production process at work today (and here’s a Case Study from our production floor for a modern take on fourslide production capability for comparison).

Now that you know something of the history of this remarkable machine, please feel free to contact us to learn more about how we can use its modern-day versions to save you time and money on your next job.  Often the tooling is less costly than a progressive punch press die, running speeds can be higher, and tighter tolerances can be maintained.  That’s a triple-win for our customers and part of what we call, “The Perfection Advantage.”

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