What is Precision Metal Stamping?
Precision metal stamping is a high-volume metalworking process that uses stamping tools to create sheet metal components by forcing the material into an impression of the desired shape. This is done according to a pattern, with each part removed from the main sheet after being stamped.
The precision metal stamping method allows manufacturers to make parts that require undercuts, multiple features, or fragile walls for assembly.
It uses high pressure equipment to force sheet metal into dies, so products are shaped with geometric accuracy and excellent surface finish at the same time.
Advantages of Precision Metal Stamping
Precision metal stamping offers a variety of advantages for both manufacturers and end-users. These include:
High Volume Production
Precision metal stamping can make thousands to millions of parts in a single run. That is a higher production rate than other metalworking processes, such as CNC machining, fabrication, or welding.
This process is perfectly suited to high-volume manufacturing, where metal parts are made in large quantities.
Precision metal stamping is versatile, producing a variety of components with the same tooling, and little- to-no additional setup or adjustment between production runs.
Because of this, precision metal stamping has a higher degree of uniformity when compared to other industrial processes. Since all the products are stamped from sheet stock, they have equal wall thicknesses and nearly identical surface finishes, making assembly and quality control inspections easier post production.
Precision metal stamping also supports mass customization of the end product by automating changeable designs, which allow meeting the customer’s unique requirements quickly.
Precision metal stamping is a versatile process capable of producing a range of components with different surface finishes and tolerances.
It also produces parts with thin walls, deep draws, and undercuts, which are otherwise challenging to produce using other processes, such as CNC machining or fabrication.
This makes precision metal stamping an excellent choice for the aerospace, medical implant, automotive, lighting, and consumer electronic product development sectors, where precise shapes and thin walls are desired features.
Precision metal stamping is one of the few technologies that can produce the specific thin-wall geometries required for demanding electronic packaging applications because of its ability to make deep drawing features.
Ease of Use
Engineers and designers find precision metal stamping easy use to because it makes complex shapes with minimal tool changes.
This capability offers greater design flexibility for clients, opening the door for concept exploration in the early stages of product development.
It also helps them reduce costs by minimizing material waste because fewer die changes are needed for each new part design iteration.
Precisely designed components are easier to manufacture using precision metal stamping, as they require less machining time in secondary processes throughout the production run. This results in more efficient workflows, especially where production volumes are high.
Minimizes Material Waste
Precision metal stamping is an economical manufacturing process because it uses the minimum amount of material needed to make the parts.
This feature allows manufacturers to make products with thin walls with no complex secondary operations, such as CNC machining, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Precision metal stamping has low startup costs compared to the large die-cast machines used for mass production. So, it is beneficial when production needs are not high volume but are still relatively high in quantity.
It also offers high flexibility, with the design options available to manufacturers to work on clients’ custom projects that cannot be produced any other way. This means higher profits for them without needing too much initial investment to get started.
Minimal Secondary Operations
With precision metal stamping, secondary operations, such as cutting threads after production, are not usually necessary. The process creates accurately shaped features, concurrently, leaving no room for error, like pre-drilling holes, counter-sinking, or cutting threads. Secondary operations often increase cost and time to market, but hand finishing is minimal after stamping, again, saving money and time.
Considerations When Using Precision Metal Stamping Techniques
The surface quality of stamped parts depends on the metal being used, its hardness, thickness, and whether it is heat-treated after being stamped. Softer materials are prone to scratching during stamping, while thicker metals are less prone because of their increased tolerance for pressure from the tooling. Heat treatment helps to improve the metal’s grain structure, making it harder and more resistant to wear and tear without compromising the material’s strength.
Undercuts can cause difficulties during the stamping process, as they make it hard for the tool to penetrate the sheet metal completely.
One way of addressing this issue is by using a progressive die instead of using one large die to cut out all the parts’ shapes in one go. Multiple dies perform minor cuts until all the part’s features are achieved. Progressive stamping also reduces the force required to release undercuts but, it also limits production speed and can cause irregular shapes that need secondary operations to clean up.
Tolerances verse Accuracy
Tolerances refer to how much variation is allowed in dimensions within the part’s design, while accuracy refers to how close the final measurements are to the intended dimensions.
Precision metal stamping can achieve accurate dimensions with tight tolerances because, unlike other manufacturing processes, it uses a controlled force to produce components,.
Parts produced with this process match specifications more closely than parts made from alternate methods, such as CNC machining or welding.
Material Strength vs. Tool Wear
To keep costs low, manufacturers often use softer, less expensive metals for tool making. However, using less robust tools creates a tradeoff in material strength, adversely affecting design and quality, especially when thin-walled geometries are required for a product. Such tools can put undue compressive stress on components.
Pressure from the tool is the leading cause of material deformation, so it is essential to consider this tradeoff when designing parts for metal stamping.
Product Complexity vs. Costs
The complexity of the part’s design determines how many tools are required to make all its features. However, manufacturers may work around this cost by performing secondary operations on specific components in the same production run, rather than making unique tooling for complex shapes or geometries, such as undercuts.
This makes it possible for manufacturers to produce multi-component products with multiple materials in one run without increasing costs.
What To Look for in a Precision Metal Stamping Partner
Experience and Knowledge
Experience plays an important role when using precision metal stamping in an assembly, and
a knowledge of the process itself, in combination with experience in working with different metals and tolerances, is key to ensuring that parts are made within specifications while also maintaining their strength.
Part design directly affects machine capacity. capacity can be limited by material thickness and the overall maximum pressure used on the sheet metal during production. It is essential to make sure machines used for this method can handle the component’s weight and size, while also considering the part geometry and quantity needed per run.
Materials used may reduce or increase tool wear and raise or lower costs, so finding a balance between hardness levels and the tool’s life is essential. The frequency with which a manufacturer will use precision metal stamping to produce parts determines the wisdom of investing in high-quality tools that last longer and have less downtime between production runs.
Quality Control Measures
Best practices for quality control with this manufacturing method are to check dimensions after the part is released from the press and then performing secondary operations to reduce the number of unique tools required for each part produced.
Customization of Presses
Machines used for precision metal stamping can be modified with different tooling components to create unique shapes and features needed for products.
Manufacturers offering this service can alter equipment controls to reduce cycle times or create fixtures for secondary operations if needed.
When choosing a manufacturing partner, remember metal stamping capabilities vary widely across machine models, making it is essential to consider what types of parts are being made, which metals are used in production, are they thick or heavy, etc.
It is also wise to ask about the secondary operations the company offers, and whether machines used for this process are customizable. This is because specific customization options may be more expensive depending on the manufacturer.
Precision Metal Stamping Capabilities and the Industries We Serve
We offer metal stamping services in house for customers who want to take advantage of our research and development team’s experience in designing, prototyping, and manufacturing parts used in applications requiring high durability.
Customers can choose from a wide range of stamping capabilities, including thickness, type of metal used, and overall sheet size.
Our metal stamping facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment like press brakes and transfer presses that can handle everything from heavy-duty parts to those made from thin gauge metals. We stand out among our competitors because we can produce delicate components without sacrificing quality.
We have several industry partners that allow us to create streamlined supply chains and offer cost-effective methods for delivering products efficiently, allowing manufacturers to focus on their strengths rather than worrying about outsourcing services for which they have neither the capacity nor expertise to handle.
Precision metal stamping is used in a variety of industries to produce metal parts that have complex geometries and other features that would be cost-prohibitive or impossible to create through alternative manufacturing methods, such as die casting and machining.
While manufacturers need to consider budget, machine capacity, tool quality, and other factors when choosing the proper process for their business, precision metal stamping is well-known for its accuracy.