The Pullmax Metal Working Machine

The first thing you'll need to make or purchase to be able to make tools for the Pullmax is a welding fixture.  I made this one with hold-down clamps made as a part of the fixture but that is not required and clamps can be used to hod the shafts in the fixture if desired.  The tool that is being made here is a set of 1/2" bead dies.  The fixture holds them in place for welding.

This is the Pullmax louver tool.  It cuts and shapes the louver without changing tools or additional operations.  Usually 2 passes of the material through the tool is all that is required.

​Some have recommended cutting the slit in the louver first and then running the material through the louver tool to shape the louver.  I tried both methods and found that I got the best results just using the louver tool and making 2 passes.  The first pass is made to cut the slit for the louver and the tooling should be set up to just penetrate enough to shear the slit to the length desired.  Then set the penetration to the full depth to form the louver by slowly moving the material from one side of the louver to the other pausing at each end to move the forming lever to shape the end of the louver.  

There are several good sources of information on using the Pullmax and here are a couple.  There are manuals for each of the machines and they can be readily found on line.  Fay Butler ( published a comprehensive book several years ago that has detailed information on all the process and techniques he uses on his 2 Pullmax machines. 

Piercing the material with shearing tooling before using the louver tool.  This makes the operation a 2 step process and requires the tooling to be changed  and realigned for each operation.  I found I got better results by using just the louver tool in a single operation.

You can cut louvers with the Pullmax

The most versatile piece of equipment available to the metal shaper is the Pullmax.  If you can have only one machine in your metal shaping shop it should be the Pullmax.  It can shrink, bead, flange, cut, are only limited by your innovative sprit.  There are several sizes and types of Pullmax and similar metal working machines.  Trumpf and Nolan also make metal working machines similar to the Pullmax.  My Pullmax is a P7 and is one of the larger machines.  It uses 22 millimeter shafts on the tools and can handle just about any gage metal you are going to need in metal shaping, up to 1/4".  Most metal shapers use the P13 which is smaller and uses 19mm shafts.  The P21 is the most desirable Pullmax and has many features that the P7, P6, and P13 don't have including a variable speed drive and tracing table attachment.  

On this page I'll try to give you a taste of some of the things you can do with the Pullmax and some of the limited tools that I have made.  

This is my first attempt at cutting louvers.  I made no attempt to make them uniform...just adjusting the machine to make them as accurately as possible.  

These pictures show the progression of making a set of 0.5" bead dies and a set of thumbnail shrink dies.  They are generally made from 1018 mild steel, however, I made the shrink dies from S7 tool steel and had them heat treated because I want them to last.  The different bead dies are generally only used for a specific application and not prone to the wear from use that the shrink dies are.