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A button die is one part of a die set that installs in a button punch. It receives its name from the button-like shape of the material left after a hole is punched. The die sits in the lower holder of the punch, providing support for the material receiving the punched hole. In the movable upper jaw of the button punch sits a piercing die that slides into an opening located in the center of the button die. Sizing the two dies correctly will provide a hole in a material that is free of distortion. Using the wrong combination of button and piercing dies will result in damage to the material and dies and cause injury to the punch operator.
The difference between the diameter of the die hole and the diameter of the piercing die changes based on the type and thickness of the material being punched. Thinner and softer materials require tighter tolerances to create a round hole without damaging the material. Metals and other hard materials require more gap between the two dies to keep the material from binding in the die. Bound material will cause pressure to increase within the button die, causing damage to the die or possibly causing the die to shatter and send pieces flying at the person operating the button punch. After the dies are matched, another often overlooked step can also result in broken dies and flying pieces of debris.
Improperly centered dies will cause the cutting edge of a piercing die to contact the edge of a button die. The resulting collision will crack or shatter the dies and result in pieces of the die flying toward the punch operator at high speeds. Manually lowering the piercing die into the opening of the button die before use will allow an operator to adjust the location of the piercing die to match the location of the die opening. Constantly checking and adjusting the alignment between the two dies will ensure a punching operation continues without issues.
Constant inspection of the cutting area located around the edge of a button die hole ensures the hole left in the punched material remains round and has clean edges. A damaged die must be replaced immediately to ensure proper hole dimensions and the safety of the operator using the button punch. Cleaning material residue from the die after each use keeps the edges of the die hole visible for inspection.