What Fourslide Metal Forming Does that Power Press Can’t

Metal part forming with fourslide can provide manufacturers with a cost and time advantage.

Imagine the following: a spring company receives an order for 10,000 complex parts. Its state-of-the-art power press machines can get the job done in time, but requires additional operations to generate the desired bends and form. 

Production costs can quickly become prohibitive, adding cost throughout the supply chain. Design engineers who require custom parts for their applications may be interested to learn how fourslide production can address this issue.

3D rendering of the four-slide mechanism.

3D rendering of the four-slide mechanism.


Not as well-known as power press, fourslide stamping is an alternative that isn’t meant to replace conventional stamping, but can be a better option for the smaller and more complicated orders. Power press forming only works in one direction, requiring secondary operations to make complex bends. Fourslide machines, however, can form complex shapes into metal strips from four directions simultaneously.

As the name implies, typical fourslide machines work by utilizing four sliding tool blocks. Like the progressive die process, a metal strip is fed through the machine from coils through a feeder and straightener assembly. After moving through the fourslide’s progressive die section where the strip is cut and holes are punched, four blocks form the sheet around a central tool. This can eliminate two to four steps that would otherwise be necessary with conventional stamping and can dramatically speed up production.

Fourslide technology is very versatile. Overbending to achieve true 90-degree angles is difficult for many materials with “spring,” but fourslide processes can achieve greater than 90 degree bends without costly additional mechanisms. It can also produce parts and components for applications ranging from lighting fixtures to battery contacts, power tools and more. For changing designs on the fly, each block tool can be adjusted individually, saving manufacturers and their customers time and money.

Complex, low cost parts produced by fourslide machines. Image courtesy Plymouth Spring.

Complex, low cost parts produced by fourslide machines. Image courtesy Plymouth Spring.

But just because fourslide offers some advantages, doesn’t mean that it should be a manufacturer’s go-to machine. To determine whether or not fourslide is the right choice, design engineers need to remember that different processes are better for different requirements.

The traditional power press remains an important tool in manufacturing and will remain so for quite some time. For simple and large orders, the power press has no replacement.

Plymouth Spring has been making springs using fourslide machines for more than 20 years and regularly receives orders consisting of 10,000+ parts. While also working in coiling, extension compression, torsion springs and wire forms, Plymouth Spring serves customers from the United States and as far away as China, Switzerland, Hungary and Mexico.  Its largest single fourslide order required parts in the millions.

“We have contracts, long term agreements, with many of our customers and we are continuously making their parts,”said Richard Rubenstein, president of Plymouth Spring.

To learn more about the differences between fourslide and power press, get your free guide below.

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Plymouth Spring has paid a fee for promotion of its products to ENGINEERING.com. It has had no editorial input to this post. All opinions are mine. – James Anderton

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for ENGINEERING.com. Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.