My interest in metal stamping has been long-standing, and recently, I found myself contemplating venturing into the creation and testing of metal stamping dies. Boasting substantial background in metal drawing fabrication coupled with extensive knowledge in precision CNC milling, I viewed this as a golden opportunity to really challenge myself. While the confidence was there, I recognized that crafting metal stamping dies would be no easy feat, prompting me to deliberate meticulously before diving in.
In contrast to the stringent procedures observed in large-scale manufacturing, my approach was more makeshift, permitting a bit of leeway in terms of error margins and not adhering strictly to tolerance specifications. Furthermore, it was imperative to have an arsenal of necessary tools, software, and materials at my disposal. Even though my goal wasn’t to churn out large volumes of stamps at a rapid pace, since this was essentially a pilot attempt, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that my proficiency in the field would simplify the process somewhat. Without further ado, let’s skip the preliminaries and delve straight into my experience.
What is Metal Stamping?
For those who might not be intimately acquainted with metal stamping, it is a procedure that involves progressively forming a metal strip within various work stations to mold it into a desired shape. During mass production, metal stamping molds are generally crafted with utmost precision and exhibit a high degree of complexity, making them exceedingly functional and efficient as machine components and accessories. Therefore, I embarked on this venture with a meticulous approach, paying close attention to every minutia and considering each aspect of the production process.
In terms of expenses, the materials set me back around 6 dollars, with the CNC machines being an additional investment. Given that this was a DIY endeavor, I was cautious to ensure that it didn’t consume a large portion of my savings, given its experimental nature. After gearing up with the necessary apparatus, a surge of enthusiasm took over as I prepared to tackle the challenge. Below is an enumeration of the tools and materials that I assembled for this project.
• A hydraulic press
• A tiny knife (or a flathead screwdriver) for plucking the die shoes apart and flaking the stamping sheet away
• DMG Mori 3-axis CNC mill + 3/8 Inch Flat End Mill, 1/4 Inch, and 1/8 Inch Ball End Mills. (I also included a .100 Inch Drill Bit).
• A heat source – which was a propane burner for me
• 0.020 Inch Alloy 3003 aluminum sheet
• .100 Inch hardened stainless steel bar
• Round mild steel bar of diameter 2.75 Inches
The Process of Forming the Metal Stamping Die
Embarking on the journey of creating a metal stamping die can initially seem a bit complex, especially if you are navigating this territory for the first time and aiming to acquire particular products. To facilitate a smoother process, I will articulate the steps in a more structured manner. It’s important to remember that the design phase entails intricate measurements, including accommodating for offset allowances to prevent premature wear and friction on the dies. Below, I have outlined the necessary steps:
Creating the 3D Models of the Positive and Negative Die
I utilized the complimentary edition of Fusion 360 software for crafting the primary die shoes. However, I must stress that newcomers to 3D modeling should arm themselves with a substantial amount of knowledge before diving in. Fortunately, Fusion 360 is a user-friendly, cloud-based platform catered towards budding enterprises and students, boasting a wealth of resources to help familiarize yourself with its functionalities. Given my seasoned background with this software from my earlier ventures, navigating it was a relatively straightforward task for me.
Earlier, I touched upon some critical elements that warrant consideration during the 3D modeling phase, namely, offset allowances and tooling, which I am about to delve into in more detail. Implementing accurate measurements considerably reduced my error margin, which was a pleasant surprise. Now, let’s explore the intricacies of offsets and tooling requirements:
Offsets – This term refers to a minuscule gap engineered to avert direct contact between the upper and lower die shoes, serving as a snug space where the metal sheet resides as it undergoes pressure-induced deformation. In my project, I utilized alloy 3003 aluminum sheets boasting a thickness of 0.020 inches. Consequently, I integrated a 0.020-inch offset by extracting die material equivalent to that thickness from the die shoes, specifically opting for the two upper positive dies.
Tooling – This process entails conceptualizing your 3D model with a consideration for the smallest tools that will be affixed to your milling machine. Given that my tiniest mill spanned 1/8 inches, I sculpted the features of my model to accommodate this dimension.
Using Computer Aided Machining (CAM)
Having prepared my 3D models, it was time to move onto the machining phase. To my surprise, this stage was less daunting than anticipated, owing greatly to Fusion 360’s integrated CAM software, which is equipped with a variety of features to streamline the process. Bypassing the need for any G-code, I devised a series of tool paths to modulate the cutting speeds when shaping the die blanks.
Keep in mind, my makeshift metal die-stamping venture was quite simplistic, necessitating only two steps: stamping and trimming. However, I opted not to execute these processes concurrently, but rather to feed the aluminum sheet through in distinct stages. Armed with appropriate offset designs and tooling configurations, it was time to dive into the exhilarating phase of CAM!
Next, I positioned the two metal blanks, destined to form the positive and negative dies, onto the DMG Mori 3-axis mill to fashion the four requisite die shoes. The creation of each shoe was somewhat time-consuming, taking up to an hour each. I meticulously paired each steel blank with its corresponding 3D model to craft distinct die shoes. After an extended period of patient anticipation, they were finally ready. I was taken aback by the results – the texture exhibited a smooth finish, and the dimensions were spot-on, just as I had envisioned!
Heating the Aluminum Sheet and Preparing it Before Stamping
In the realm of conventional metal stamping processes, the application of heat is usually absent. This can largely be attributed to the fact that the pressing forces utilized by manufacturers are typically metered meticulously, and precise measurements are taken to counterbalance the tensile strengths of the sheets in question. Embarking on a casual endeavor like mine comes with the inherent risk of material tears and deformations due to potential excess pressure. And it’s a well-known fact that aluminum possesses high ductility and malleability, attributes that render it susceptible to damages from excessive pressures.
In light of this, I adopted a gentle approach to mitigate this issue, by heating the aluminum just shy of its melting point before allowing it to cool down. Astonishingly, this tactic seemed to “anneal” the aluminum, enhancing its malleability and softness, thus bolstering its resistance to tearing and fracturing under the strains of hydraulic pressure. In hindsight, employing a steel sheet might have been a more prudent choice, given its inherent capacity to withstand substantial pressure without succumbing to deformities such as dented edges.
The Stamping Process
Contrasting with traditional metal stamping protocols, my approach entailed subjecting the aluminum sheet to a sequence of isolated hydraulic presses, instilling a progressive nature to the undertaking. However, as I previously emphasized, my project was rather uncomplicated, encompassing merely stamping and trimming phases, primarily serving as a personal experiment. Furthermore, my focus was predominantly on navigating the “process” rather than obsessing over the “results”.
The silver lining here was the uncomplicated and straightforward nature of the die assembly process in progressive die stamping. Let me walk you through my meticulous and precise approach:
• Initiating with the punching of the 0.020-inch thick aluminum sheet – essentially crafting a significant slot – centrally located. It was crucial that this aperture accommodated the protrusion of the positive die precisely, thus precision remained paramount. Fortunately, my trusty milling machine stood ready to shoulder this demanding task, sparing me much of the manual effort.
• Subsequently, I positioned the 0.020-inch thick aluminum sheet atop the positive die, seamlessly transitioning into the stamping phase. This step proved to be uncomplicated, given that the slot in the sheet aligned flawlessly with the positive die’s protrusion, while the negative die encapsulated it in a secure sandwich-like setup.
• Next, a robust metal rod was strategically situated on the reverse side of the upper, yet-to-be-milled, negative die’s surface, poised for engagement with the hydraulic press. The resolute force exerted by the press ensured the precise formation of the desired shape, leaving no room for error.
That concluded the stamping segment! Following this, it was time to replicate the entire procedure, but this time for the trimming phase. Again, I was faced with no complex intricacies. However, my initial task involved delicately separating the two dies, for which my trusty small knife came in handy. As I proceeded, I noticed that the aluminum sheet had adhered to the positive die, requiring a gentle touch from the knife. With meticulous care, I slid the knife beneath the sheet, applying a gentle upward force to release it, successfully extracting it from its lodged position.
And there you have it, a thorough and precise overview of the die assembly process in progressive die stamping. With the right tools, attention to detail, and a steady hand, this seemingly complex task can be executed smoothly, ensuring the highest quality final product.
Trimming the Mold
The newly-formed mold displayed some indentations along its periphery, necessitating some trimming to achieve a smoother contour. Additionally, it was essential to eliminate the excess metal flanking the primary shape, known as scrap. Fortunately, this task was easily accomplished, as the delineation of the shape served as a vulnerability line, facilitating effortless trimming with a tin snip.
At this juncture, I couldn’t overlook the assistance of my trusty ally – the CNC machine, which seemed divinely provisioned for tasks such as rounding off the edges. Nevertheless, I needed to concoct a strategy to securely anchor the piece against the revolving mills without inducing tremors that could result in unwanted dents. But this concern was rather minor in the grand scheme of things. The vices were at hand to ensure a sturdy grip, requiring me only to situate the item within the clasp of these tight-gripping vices to finesse the edges. A task that turned out to be quite uncomplicated! In a short span, I managed to accomplish this, and the outcome closely mirrored my expectations, albeit not perfectly.
I must concede that the end results didn’t exactly align with the pristine vision I had conceptualized, but they certainly transcended the mundane. Bear in mind, I maintained a straightforward approach throughout, steering clear of complex procedures. In contrast to industrial-scale manufacturing, my CNC machining and design maneuvers were not overly complex. Despite this, the experience harbored plenty of rewarding moments and bestowed valuable takeaways.
While my personal experiment may have differed in scope from the standardized progressive die stamping process, it is important to note the thoroughness and precision required in each step. The alignment of dies, the careful manipulation of the metal sheet, and the attention to detail in trimming all contribute to the successful creation of durable parts. This process, when applied on an industrial scale, involves feeding strip metal through a series of workstations, each performing unique actions to shape and fabricate materials into highly durable parts for various industries. Die stamping equipment operates at high speeds to achieve large-scale replication of parts. By following these steps, manufacturers can ensure the efficient production of quality components.
All things considered, the outcomes were indeed a source of great satisfaction for me. Moreover, the endeavor proved to be a rich source of learnings and insights, which I anticipate will be invaluable in guiding my future projects. Interestingly, my approach didn’t deviate significantly from conventional manufacturing processes. The primary distinctions lay in my utilization of makeshift CNC milling apparatuses and the employment of an unregulated hydraulic pressure system, factors that contributed to the noted superficial damages.
The Key Lessons and Takeaways
Indeed, industrial-scale metal stamping encompasses a myriad of intricate processes. While DIY ventures may not mirror the complexity inherent in large-scale operations, the fundamental processes bear significant resemblance. Crafting the dies is certainly a task that demands attention and expertise, requiring someone well-acquainted with the nuances to oversee the design phase. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information available to provide a comprehensive understanding of the entire process. Additionally, CAM software generally offers intuitive platforms equipped with user-friendly interfaces, making their utilization potentially an enjoyable experience even for novices.
Achieving precision is indeed crucial when crafting 3D models using CAM software. A slight miscalculation in the dimensions of the positive and negative dies can pave the way for complications, inducing undue pressure on the stamping sheets and potentially resulting in surface scarring and dents. It is worth noting that, in contrast to industrial metal stamping where pressure is meticulously calibrated, the hydraulic pressure in DIY setups can be somewhat erratic and non-uniform, which might culminate in undesirable outcomes.
Indeed, the prospect of refinement is ever-present. Perfecting the art of DIY metal stamping is a journey characterized by multiple trials and continuous learning – attaining mastery is no small feat. For those contemplating establishing a venture in the metal stamping sector, absorbing the prerequisite experience and skillset is pivotal, necessitating a substantial foundation in practical knowledge. Venturing ill-prepared might result in outputs that fall short of the competition’s standards. However, for enthusiasts pursuing this as a hobby, the stakes are significantly lower, and the emphasis lies in enjoying the process rather than the perfection of the outcomes. So, if it’s just for enjoyment, there’s no cause for concern – it’s all in good fun!
Crafting metal stamping dies doesn’t necessarily have to be an exceedingly complex process. However, possessing appropriate knowledge can be a boon, helping you to navigate and mitigate potential challenges adeptly, especially if you are well-acquainted with the intricacies of the craft. For novices and startups, beginning on a smaller scale is a rational approach; however, it’s imperative to gradually acquire a deep understanding of the procedures, alongside honing skills in utilizing CAM software and CNC milling machines.
In sharing my journey of crafting metal stamping dies — a venture I might modestly rate at this juncture — I hope to offer some insights and lessons that might prove beneficial. I trust that you’ll find the experiences and knowledge I’ve shared to be of value, hopefully integrating them to enhance your own crafting endeavors. Wishing you all the best in your DIY adventures!
Q1: How can one get started with progressive die stamping with MicPro?
For businesses seeking to initiate progressive die stamping projects, MicPro Precision stands ready to provide top-tier expertise and support. With a robust background in metal stamping, mold creation, and the delivery of high-quality stamping parts, MicPro Precision is your ideal partner in this domain.
We invite potential partners to commence this journey by reaching out for a comprehensive quote or by engaging directly with our adept team. At MicPro Precision, we pride ourselves on our ability to balance cost-efficiency with the high standards of quality that our clients expect. Our strategic investments in cutting-edge technologies are a testament to our dedication to offering economical and advanced solutions.
Upon establishing contact, our professionals, distinguished by their in-depth knowledge of European and American mold structures, will lead you through the intricacies of progressive die stamping. Collaborating closely with our clients, we aim to grasp your unique specifications and to guarantee that your project is managed with precision and care. Whether providing support for existing designs or aiding in the development of new ones, our experience is at your disposal throughout every phase.
MicPro Precision is committed to surpassing expectations with superior quality and cost-effective offerings. We are eager to explore your needs and aid in the incorporation of progressive die stamping into your manufacturing process for superior results.
Q2: How does MicPro ensure cost reduction and quality improvement in progressive die stamping?
MicPro Precision is dedicated to providing clients with cost-effective and high-quality solutions in progressive die stamping. Our approach to achieving these objectives is rooted in a blend of innovation, process refinement, and stringent quality controls.
Cost reduction is a key goal for MicPro Precision, and we reach this by embracing state-of-the-art technologies that enhance our manufacturing efficiency. Automation and sophisticated robotics are integral to our operations, allowing us to maximize throughput while minimizing manual intervention and labor costs. This approach not only leads to lower production expenses but also contributes to competitive pricing structures for our clients without sacrificing the caliber of our work.
We believe in the power of continuous process improvement. Our skilled professionals conduct regular reviews and optimizations of our stamping processes, targeting waste reduction and streamlined production. By analyzing our operations in depth, we proactively identify and rectify any inefficiencies, which translates to cost savings for our clients.
Quality is paramount at MicPro Precision. We enforce rigorous inspection protocols and employ advanced quality control systems at every phase of production. Our commitment to excellence ensures that every component we manufacture is a testament to precision and durability. We meticulously monitor the entire process, from the procurement of raw materials to the final inspection of the stamped parts.
Collaboration with high-quality suppliers further underscores our quality assurance measures. We select partners who share our dedication to excellence and conduct thorough inspections to prevent any issues with materials that could affect the end product.
In essence, MicPro Precision’s philosophy centers on marrying technological advancements with meticulous process optimization to deliver cost savings alongside superior quality in progressive die stamping. Our unwavering commitment to delivering excellence ensures that our clients benefit from products that not only meet but exceed their stringent standards.
Q3: What services does MicPro offer in progressive die stamping?
MicPro Precision offers a full suite of services in progressive die stamping, leveraging our extensive expertise in metal stamping, mold design, and the production of high-quality stamping parts. Our services are bolstered by an in-house tooling room and our in-depth experience with European and American mold structures, setting us apart in the industry.
Our array of services includes:
- Custom Tool and Die Making: With our in-house capabilities, we create precise tooling solutions tailored to your project’s specific requirements.
- Progressive Die Design and Fabrication: We specialize in designing and manufacturing progressive dies that ensure efficiency and precision in high-volume production runs.
- Precision Metal Stamping: Our state-of-the-art presses deliver stamped parts with tight tolerances and consistent quality.
- Component Assembly: Beyond stamping, we offer assembly services to provide you with a complete manufacturing solution.
- Quality Inspection and Certification: Rigorous quality control measures are in place to ensure that every part meets the highest standards.
- Logistics and Delivery Services: We manage the logistics efficiently to meet your delivery deadlines, ensuring your supply chain remains uninterrupted.
MicPro Precision is committed to fostering long-term partnerships by delivering cost-effective, high-quality stamping solutions. We encourage potential partners to engage with us for a detailed consultation or to request a quote, as we are poised to fulfill your progressive die stamping requirements with unparalleled precision and care.
Q4: Can you provide examples of parts made using progressive die stamping?
MicPro Precision, through its advanced progressive die stamping techniques, has manufactured a variety of components across multiple industries. Here are several instances of parts produced using our state-of-the-art stamping processes:
- Electrical Connectors: Used in the electronics industry, these connectors are crafted for durability and precision conductivity. Our processes ensure each piece meets the rigorous standards required for electrical performance.
- Automotive Brackets: These are integral to vehicle assembly and are manufactured to withstand the stresses of automotive operations. Our stamping processes ensure the brackets have the structural integrity needed for safety and longevity.
- Medical Device Components: Precision is vital in the medical field, and our stamped parts used in devices reflect the highest standards of quality and reliability required for medical applications.
- Appliance Hinges: These hinges are designed for heavy use in large household appliances. Our progressive die stamping allows for the high-volume production of these components with consistent quality.
Each project benefits from MicPro Precision’s commitment to quality and efficiency, delivering parts that not only meet but exceed our clients’ specifications and industry standards.
Q5: What industries rely on progressive die-stamped parts in their manufacturing processes?
MicPro Precision’s progressive die stamping services are pivotal for numerous sectors that demand high-volume, precision-engineered parts. Key industries we serve include:
- Automotive Industry: We supply the automotive sector with various stamped parts, such as brackets, connectors, and chassis components, which are vital for vehicle assembly and safety.
- Electronics Industry: Our services cater to the electronics industry by producing intricate components like connectors and terminals that require the utmost precision.
- Appliance Manufacturing: For appliance manufacturers, we create robust and durable parts like hinges and brackets that are essential for the functionality of household appliances.
- Medical Devices: The medical industry relies on us for the high-precision manufacturing of metal components used in life-saving medical devices.
- Plumbing Fixtures: We support plumbing manufacturers by producing fittings and fixtures that meet the industry’s strict standards for durability and leak-proof performance.
Our commitment to supporting these industries with progressive die stamping is unwavering, as we continuously innovate to meet the demands of high-volume production without sacrificing quality or precision.
Q6: How does secondary processing like grinding and heat treating contribute to the production of parts using progressive die stamping?
In MicPro Precision’s manufacturing ecosystem, secondary processes such as grinding and heat treating are essential for augmenting the quality of parts produced by progressive die stamping. Heat treatment processes involve subjecting the stamped components to high temperatures that surpass the material’s critical transformation point, which enhances their strength and stability. This process not only toughens the parts but also imparts resilience, making them more suitable for applications where structural integrity is paramount.
Post heat treatment, rapid cooling techniques are applied to lock in the desirable properties, further ensuring that the parts maintain their form and strength under operational stress. This step is crucial for parts that will be subjected to rigorous use in their final application.
Grinding complements the heat treatment by refining the parts to achieve precise dimensions and a superior surface finish. It meticulously removes any surface irregularities and achieves the tight tolerances required for the components’ optimal performance.
At MicPro Precision, we integrate these secondary processes to elevate the standard of our progressive die stamped parts. These additional steps are part of our commitment to delivering parts that not only meet but exceed the exacting requirements of our clients in terms of durability, precision, and quality.
Q7: How are stock strip layout and design done in progressive die stamping?
At MicPro Precision, the layout and design of the stock strip in progressive die stamping are meticulously crafted to ensure the highest efficiency and precision. Our process begins with the deployment of advanced computer-aided design (CAD) software, enabling us to construct an intricate and precise representation of the stock strip layout.
Our engineers focus intently on arranging each punch, bend, and aperture on the strip to correspond perfectly with the progressive die’s sequence. The goal is to optimize material usage, minimize waste, and ensure the flawless progression of the strip through the die.
Considerations during this phase include the specific material properties, the complexity of the part to be stamped, and the tolerances required for the final product. These factors guide the precise arrangement of features on the strip, ensuring that each stamped part is consistent with our client’s specifications.
MicPro Precision’s approach to stock strip design is to ensure a seamless transition from concept to production, with a keen eye on cost-effectiveness and quality. By leveraging our sophisticated design tools and extensive experience, we provide clients with a streamlined manufacturing process that delivers superior results in progressive die stamping.