Is Progressive Metal Stamping Right for Your Product?
Several manufacturing methods can make metal parts, and the decision for which to use may come down to the part design and the quantity needed. Progressive stamping is used in numerous applications that require parts produced with high accuracy, precision, and speed. Progressive stamping has many advantages, and it may be beneficial to convert your metal fabricated, machined, or casted parts into stampings, but progressive metal stamping is not for every application. Understanding where it is best suited will bring you the greatest advantages and cost savings.
What Is Progressive Stamping?
Stamping uses a custom tool and dies installed in a stamping press to bend, punch, pierce, extrude, draw or flange sheet metal to form a part. When several operations are performed, a progressive die is used. Sheet metal in coil form is fed through the press, which has a series of stations performing distinct functions. In addition, in-die tapping and hardware insertion are also possible. Once the sheet metal strip has run all the way through, the parts are cut off. When running a coil of sheet metal, once the first part has progressed through all the stations, a finished part is completed every time the press closes. Depending on both part design and the press size, including tonnage, progressive stamping can produce hundreds to thousands of parts per hour.
Other Metal Manufacturing Methods
In addition to progressive stamping, several other manufacturing methods may be suitable for your project. One of those methods is metal fabrication. Metal fabrication uses shears, punches, and brakes (and sometimes lasers and panel benders) to blank, punch, and bend the metal. It may also involve tapping or thread rolling. While tools and dies are not required, this is more of a manual process and can sometimes take specialized skills or even custom fixtures. For example, when manually bending metal on a press brake, the operator controls the part quality, and back bending (a slightly reversed kink at the edge of the die) can occur if the operator can’t keep up with the press speed as they manually raise the sheet. You may not get a high level of repeatability. Because of the labor involved, metal fabrication may be cost-prohibitive for large runs and better suited to prototypes and shorter runs.
A third method is CNC machining. CNC machining starts with a solid block of metal (as opposed to a flat sheet), and unneeded material is removed through turning, milling, drilling, or grinding to create the finished part. While it doesn’t typically require special tooling, machining can be labor-intensive because they are run one at a time. CNC machining can be expensive and better suited to low volumes. However, machining can produce a part with complicated curves and contours that can’t be done with metal fabrication. Also, depending on the part, it can result in a lot of wasted material being machined off the block.
And finally, cast metal parts are made from molten metal poured into a premade mold or die and allowed to cool. Once removed from the mold, the part is cleaned up to remove casting and grind casting gates. The mold can be reusable or an expendable single-use mold. Because the part must be removed from the mold, care in design is required to ensure this is possible. This method may not work well with highly complex parts. The surface finish is relatively coarse, requiring a wider tolerance.
Does Stamping Make Sense for You?
When deciding the type of process to use for your part, complexity, size, and quantity must be considered. While an investment in tooling is required, this cost is offset by speed, increased quality, and efficiency.
High production rate – Metal stamping is well suited for large volumes. It can produce complex parts in a shorter amount of time than other methods because of automation and the ability to do in-die tapping and insertion, which require additional steps using different methods.
Higher accuracy and precision – Because the process is automated, the first piece produced will be the same as the last. Increased product quality means the risk of having a part fail because of a manufacturing flaw is mitigated.
High material use – Stamping can optimize material usage, requiring less metal and possibly reducing part weight.
Lower production costs – All the above benefits will reduce your total costs. Additionally, at Die-Matic, we will apply design for manufacturability (DFM) principles to your design to ensure you are using the most cost-effective materials and your part is optimized for manufacturing and assembly.
At Die-Matic, we use both large and small presses that allow us to produce a wide range of part sizes that other metal manufacturing methods cannot. Whether your part is 8 feet long or a ¼ inch in diameter, 0.005 in. or 0.875 in. thick, we can cost-effectively bring your part to fruition with precision metal stamping.
We provide full-service capabilities, from prototyping and engineering support to welded and value-added assemblies, saving you time and money. Plus, with a 98% on-time delivery record and “just-in-case” inventory, you can be assured your products will arrive on time.
Whether you are ready to get started or are still unsure that metal stamping is suitable for your product, give us a call. Our engineers are eager to help.