The progressive stamping die is placed into a reciprocating stamping press. As the press moves up, the top die moves with it, which allows the material to feed. When the press moves down, the die closes and performs the stamping operation. With each stroke of the press, a completed part is removed from the die.
Since additional work is done in each "station" of the die, it is important that the strip be advanced very precisely so that it aligns within a few thousandths of an inch as it moves from station to station. Bullet shaped or conical "pilots" enter previously pierced round holes in the strip to assure this alignment since the feeding mechanism usually cannot provide the necessary precision in feed length.