Nibbling is a manufacturing process used in sheet metal processing. The similarities to punching and shear cutting are unmistakable, because nibbling primarily involves cutting or nibbling simple or complex shapes from a sheet. In some areas, nibbling has clear advantages over punching and shear cutting. Modern CNC machines as well as special tools and combination machines offer a wide range of applications.

What is nibbling?

In principle, nibbling works very similarly to punching, which is why it is often referred to as "punching with repositioning": The material to be processed (sheet metal) is inserted into the nibbler, which is open on one side, so that it lies between the punch and the die. Similar to a punch, the punch and die are then brought together, cutting the material. Unlike the punch, however, the nibbler sets and literally "nibbles" small pieces out of the material. This is why nibbling is often colloquially referred to as "nibbling". In contrast to the punch, which can only be used to punch a given shape out of the workpiece, nibbling allows shapes of any size and variety to be cut out of the material. This is supported by the fact that the sheet can be rotated and shifted during repositioning when the punch and die are released from each other.

Which advantages has nibbling?

Compared to punching, nibbling offers the advantage of greater flexibility: a punch can only cut one given shape at a time. In order to cut several different shapes from one material with one punch, a certain amount of changeover time is required. In addition, the cutting dies are limited in size. With nibbling, these two limitations no longer apply: thanks to the repositioning and variable shifting of the material, all shapes and different sizes can be cut into the sheet during nibbling. At the same time, all changeover times are eliminated. Nibbling also offers many possibilities for combination with other techniques and tools, such as laser cutting or impact shears.

One disadvantage can be that nibbling often leaves visible marks in the material. They resemble a kind of ripple pattern, which may have to be removed in a subsequent work step. Furthermore, when nibbling interior cutouts, it is necessary to drill a pilot hole in order to be able to place the nibbler in the appropriate position.

Where is nibbling used?

For nibbling, there are hand tools as well as motor-driven machine tools or special tools, CNC-controlled machines and combination tools. Nibbling is used wherever metal sheets have to be cut. Examples are the production of computer housings as well as control cabinets (here often with the use of special tools).