What is metal stamping and how do you find a supplier with metal stamping capabilities? Welcome, or welcome back to our blog series on metal enclosure design tips. This time we’re focusing on metal stamping, a popular and cost-effective manufacturing process.
In this blog, you’ll learn about metal stamping, its advantages and disadvantages, common applications, processes and types of stamping presses.
What is precision metal stamping?
Thomasnet defines metal stamping as, “a cold-forming process that makes use of dies and stamping presses to transform sheet metal into different shapes. Pieces of flat sheet metal, typically referred to as blanks, [are] fed into a sheet metal stamping press that uses a tool and die surface to form the metal into a new shape.” This process is also sometimes referred to as pressing. Metal stamping doesn't need heat to shape or cut metal, which can make it a less expensive process than others like forging. It is also ideal for high-volume, repeatable production runs.
IQS Directory shared that metal stamping was first invented in Germany around 100 years ago. It began in the industrial revolution as a, “means for producing frames and handlebars for bicycles.” In today’s world, you can find metal stamped components everywhere from plumbing to medical devices and the parts can be in various shapes and sizes. Other common applications include parts and components for the military and defense, telco and construction industries.
Metal stamping can be performed on a variety of metal types. Stainless steel is one of the most used metals due to its hardness and relatively low price point. Other ferrous metals with low amounts of carbon are commonly used for stamping since they are durable, versatile and form easily. Non-ferrous metals like brass, aluminum, copper, silver and zinc can also be stamped. Even non-standard alloys like beryllium nickel and beryllium copper make for great metalworking materials.
There are many advantages to metal stamping, including lower cost and higher production volume. CNC machines can further increase production volume. Leftover materials can also be recycled for use in future projects. As with any process, there are also drawbacks to stamping. One main disadvantage is the need to create customized dies. This increases pre-production time, and if there are multiple die changes required for a design, it can also increase production time and cost to the finished part. However, many manufacturers like Maysteel that specialize in metal stamping have a wide range of dies in-house.
What are the different metal stamping processes?
There are several techniques and processes within metal stamping. Here are some you may commonly see.
Blanking is a cutting process where a piece of metal is removed from a larger sheet. The blank is the piece that is removed and has the properties and shape of the final part.
Piercing and Punching in this process, the metal is again pressed in between the tool and dies, but instead of the removed metal being used for the part, the piece that surrounds the cut part will be used for the rest of the project.
Coining is a process that’s utilized when a part requires flattening. It produces a smooth edge and gives strength to the part. Coining can help reduce the amount of deburring or grinding necessary in the finishing process.
Bending, as the name suggests, is where metal is bent along a single axis. Usually in L, U or V shapes.
Embossing takes a flat blank and uses a tool or stylus forced against a die to produce a raised or recessed piece.
Flanging is like bending, which folds metal along an axis, but in flanging, the axis is curved instead of creating a straight line. It presses a flare or flange onto the metal through specialized machinery.
Progressive Die Stamping (also known as progressive metal stamping) is a process that performs multiple techniques discussed above in a certain order, for instance, punching, bending and coining. The metal starts as a coil and goes through workstations fed by an automatic system, where each step brings it closer to the final product. The last step is cutting the part away from the original material, referred to as the carrying web. The carrying web is then recycled. This process is generally used to reduce costs while producing high volumes of completed parts. Another advantage is consistency and the ability to meet tight tolerances, since there isn’t much room for human error. One commonly referenced application of progressive die stamping is the pull-tabs on the top of soda cans.
Presses are the machines that usually perform the above metal stamping techniques. Here are a few different categories of presses.
Mechanical presses form and shape metals without using heat or chemicals. They use a motor to operate a mechanical flywheel. Because of their tonnage, they are more suited to lighter metals and simpler parts. Mechanical presses are often used with progressive metal stamping techniques.
Hydraulic milling machines use hydraulic fluid power to apply force to the material through the tool and dies. Hydraulic machines allow for more consistency between parts because of the control of the pistons. They are used more for smaller production runs and because of the adjustable stroke length and controlled pressure, they are often used for more complicated parts and components.
Mechanical Servo presses are like mechanical presses, except they use high-capacity motors (servo motors) instead of flywheels. Like hydraulic presses, they have adjustable stroke length, slide position and speed, but unlike hydraulic presses, they can handle larger production runs of complicated parts. These are the most expensive of the three press categories.
Metal stamping is an important process in manufacturing and has evolved for more than 100 years and has become a staple for parts and components in various industries.
In this blog, we discussed the stamping process, its advantages and disadvantages, and stamping presses. If you’re looking to make your sheet metal stamping supplier shortlist, you can learn about all the sheet metal manufacturing processes with our free guide: https://www.maysteel.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/FREE-GUIDE-Metal-Fabrication.pdf.
Maysteel offers in-house stamping capabilities, including piercing, forming, diverse blanking and joining to help with your next project. If you’re looking for a fabrication partner, talk to our team today: https://www.maysteel.com/contact/.
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