The first time I completed my first batch of Bulgy 74's I was sure that I had done my best possible work. The tools and and development took just about a year working nights to figure out. I was exhausted and knew I never wanted to go through that process again. Soon the Bulgarian 74's became a popular product, and requests started flooding in for many other variants. Before I knew it 47 blank production took priority. The first thing I found out when I started doing more and more parts was that some of tooling designs didn't hold up well. Particularly The U bender was more or less folding the bends over rather than setting them in. Many parts were being lost during heat treat as a result. At that point I was torn between being committed to my old methods and wanting to have better parts but unsure of how to best handle it. I went back to the drawing board and designed a slew of new bending tools. The results were fantastic and sales increased dramatically. Luckily I had had a good amount of 74 blanks stocked up and the bends were not an issue on them but I knew at some point I was going to be making more. However with the bottom detail of trigger humps it would make it impossible to bend them with the new tooling.
So laid out here is the tooling I came up with:
The biggest challenge with adding the trigger hump after bending was keeping the trigger cavity from bowing out and becoming misshaped. In the picture below you can see the sides of the punches are cut inwards to compensate for the material displaced when the hump is embossed.
It's hard believe at this point how much of an evolution Ive had in production techniques and just the massive amount of learning that Ive gone through. The best part is now the whole development process which i used to dread is now something I look forward to.