The different parts of industrial punch press machines – and what they do

Punch presses have changed the way manufacturers manipulate materials to serve countless purposes the world over. Producing pieces to be used in everything from electricals to aerospace engineering, products of all kinds could not be made as quickly, efficiently or accurately as they are without the humble punch press.

While it may seem like a simple enough process, there are actually many different parts at play during every punch press action, each serving its own unique purpose to guarantee a desirable end product. So, what is a punch press and, more specifically, what purposes do their different parts serve?

At Cambridge Dynamics, we’re experts in all things punch presses, stamping presses and other press services. So, if you’re looking to onboard (or improve) press processes in your business, we’re the team to speak to.

What is a punch press?

An industrial punch press is a large machine used to punch holes, or otherwise manipulate materials (usually sheet metal) to make them suitable for use in other areas of production.

Most punch presses work by using a hydraulic-powered ram made of a highly rugged material that is fired at force into a piece of material that is resting on a pre-placed die. The combination of the ram’s force and the die creates a specific shape in the material, “punching” a hole of ideal dimensions.

Similar presses, like stamping presses, can produce similar results, the only difference being the material is stamped with a specific shape, instead of cutting it out of the material.

What individual parts is a punching machine made of?

Here are just some of the major parts involved in the punch press process:


The base offers structural support throughout the punch press machine, offering stability and helping ensure all parts remain in place during the punching process. It must be big enough and sturdy enough to withstand the force of the press.


The part of the machine that applies the force necessary to produce a punched material. Moving in a quick and powerful downward motion, the ram is a hydraulic cylinder that strikes the material and the die, creating the correct punched hole and shape.


Serving a similar function to the press base, the frame helps uphold the structure of the press, while also supporting the mechanism that controls the ram.


To produce consistent results time after time, while also keeping on schedule, the ram must operate at a steady speed and equally steady force. This element of the process is controlled by the flywheel.

Clutch or braking system

Clutches or brakes can be activated in the event of a malfunction or accident, to avoid further injury. Typically, modern punching machines will have more than one brake activation method as a failsafe.

Bolster plate

This is a thick plate that helps hold the die in place, ensuring it does not move when struck by the hydraulic ram.

Computer Numerical Control

If your punch press machine is needed to perform many punches in a short period, with many different pieces, it’s likely automated and uses CNC technology (Computer Numerical Control). This system links a computer program with a punch press, allowing it to be programmed to automatically perform punch processes, letting the user control such elements as force, speed and figures. 

You likely won’t find these controls in a compact punching machine, though, as these often need to be operated by hand the traditional way.

Fulfil all your punch press needs with Cambridge Dynamics

With years of experience in punch presses – and similar operations – Cambridge Dynamics is ready to offer whatever support you need in the world of punch presses.

If you’re interested in onboarding punch presses, or automating your existing punch press setup, get in touch with the Cambridge Dynamics team today for more information.

01480 459555