When you drive your car or close a door, you are using metal stamped parts, and without them, many things we use daily would cost more. Handmaking parts is labor-intensive and time-consuming, while hot processes like mold pouring are wasteful. I will share everything you need to know about how metal stamping works and how to get started on this ingenious, cost-effective manufacturing process.
What Is Metal Stamping
Metal Stamping imprints a shape or form onto a sheet of blank metal. Manufacturers using this process can quickly create uniform parts in customizable quantities for use in many industries. Best of all, metal stamping is a largely automated cold process that is surprisingly cost-effective.
What Is Metal Stamping Used To Make
You might have metal-stamped objects in your pocket right now. Coins are one of the earliest forms of metal stamping. According to Fairlawntool (https://www.fairlawntool.com/blog/history-metal-stamping/), this less-mechanized version started around the seventh century B.C. Since then, there have been numerous innovations in the process. The classic form of metal stamping is directly related to modern die cast, punched, and embossed pieces that go into everything from airplanes to door hinges.
Anything a human can invent that requires uniformly shaped metal parts can likely be done with a metal stamping machine. Canned foods and the machines that fill them use stamping. Metal door handles, plates, and hinges all come from this process. Even tiny complex and precise parts of computers, cell phones, and satellites are often stamped.
Stamping isn’t the only option, but it is so cost-effective that it’s used to make an incredible variety of metal parts. The machines for metal stamping are complex, but the process is simple and economical.
The three types of metal stamping are divided by what happens to the metal as it is cold-worked. Cold work means it doesn’t need heat to bend and mold the parts. Another significant upside of cold processing is that it doesn’t break the metal as easily. Ironically, you may notice some warmth coming from freshly pressed pieces because friction causes heat.
Multi-Slide metal stamping machines often have more than one set of dies. These are the most complex and are used for parts that need several angles bent or otherwise need to go through several different steps. The opposite of Multi-slide stamping is called Progressive Die Stamping.
The Progressive die process is the most common and often most affordable option. A strip of metal moves through a single die which forms it into the desired shape. Using this technique, the metal gets bent, stamped, and trimmed all in one pass.
The last type of precision metal stamping is the Deep Draw. This stamping uses both dies and punches to create a much more 3D or ‘deep’ part.
What Is The Difference Between Metal Stamping and Pressing
Metal stamping can be a little difficult to understand at first. Not only does it go by other names, but there’s an older handmaking process that shares the name. As a result, industry jargon and what it entails can seem obscure. Luckily I can help you decode the problem very easily.
Classic metal stamping involves a hammer and metal stamp, not unlike a rubber stamp with a pattern. This process is also called metal stamping. You use a rubber mallet to mark or repeat a pattern on metal for mostly decorative reasons.
Pressing, on the other hand, is another name for one type of mechanized metal stamping. I will explain the different names of metal stamping below. Professionals use the terms interchangeably depending on the type of metal stamping you are involved in working on at the time.
Modern metal stamping doesn’t involve heating metal to make shapes. However, the term ‘stamping’ can be deceptive as there are many sub-categories of cool shaping metal to get the parts you need. Each ‘stamping’ process does something unique to a sheet of metal, turning it from a blank slate into a finished product.
Bending– This is exactly what you think it is. Bending creates an angle on a piece of metal.
Blanking– Blanking is the process of cutting a shape out of sheet metal. The new piece is called a blank.
Coining– In coining, you use two shaped dies to press a piece of metal into a smoother form.
Embossing– Like other types of embossing, this process either presses a pattern down into the metal or raises the surface up.
Etching– Using chemicals known as ****etchants, etching allows the machine to create highly detailed and precise designs and small shapes.
Flanging– Flanging is bending the metal. Specifically, it is additional bending after the initial shape.
Forming– The generic term forming is any process where the machine uses pressure to shape the metal.
Punching– Punching is making a hole or cutting a shape.
Pressing– When you put a coil or sheet of metal into a stamping machine, it is called pressing.
Stamping– In addition to ‘pressing,’ the umbrella term stamping also covers all of these processes as a group. Stamping machines can do some or all of these, depending on their complexity.
What Do I Need To Start Metal Stamping
Unless you are a genius engineer and blacksmith, you will need to buy a metal stamping machine to get started. Unfortunately, you cannot run out and buy a custom machine that will mint quarters or make proprietary parts for airplanes. However, you can own a machine that will emboss items like nameplates, jewelry, and dog tags for a few hundred dollars.
Automatic and semiautomatic sheet embossers are the best way to break into the business. With a little practice and some metal sheets, you can cleanly and quickly customize simple metal projects. If you want to create a more complex machine for parts, you will probably need to discuss your specific needs with a stamping machine manufacturer who can help with the design process.
Not all stamping is DIY. Gaining a deeper understanding of how to run complex metal stamping equipment can come from work experience. Educational requirements vary by the company when you’re seeking a job as a stamper. For example, running a stamping machine for a company like Raytheon might involve an advanced engineering degree. Meanwhile, getting a job with stamping machines in a canning factory might only require you to be eighteen or have a high school equivalent diploma.
Every time you spend a nickel, open a soda, or watch a plane fly overhead, you have metal stamping to thank for that. Creating parts for machines doesn’t need to be an environmental disaster or an exercise in callus building. More importantly, it shouldn’t wreck your budget. Whether you have a brilliant idea for the next must-have machine, or you want to open a shop that makes bike parts in bulk, metal stamping is the smart way to achieve that goal.