A wide range of products across industries rely on having accurately stamped metal components. For many of those products, the stamped part is critical for the product to perform to its potential. While there are many metal stamping companies, choosing the best partner for your needs will ensure a positive outcome. A good metal stamping partner should deliver high-quality products, be responsive to your needs, offer suggestions, and deliver on time at a minimum. If the thought of that is daunting, we can help. Below we provide a step-by-step method for choosing a stamped metal parts manufacturer.
Determine if You Need a Partner or a Supplier
The first thing to decide is what type of metal stamping manufacturer you want to work with. Both partners and suppliers may have the capabilities you need, but there is a difference between the two. A supplier provides transactional services and nothing more. Conversely, a partner will collaborate, proactively offer suggestions for improvement, and provide assembly and other value-added services. When you are in a partnership, the company becomes an extension of your business.
Define Your Project Requirements
Before reaching out to a potential stamped metal parts manufacturer, you must clearly understand your project requirements. Things to consider include the following:
Design assistance – You won’t get design assistance with a supplier, but a partner can off pre-production engineering and technical expertise to ensure your project can be manufactured to your specifications and the components will function as intended.
Prototypes – The prototyping process should be consultative, well, to identify improvement opportunities and help you avoid costly delays and problems. Having the same manufacturer build your prototype and your production runs streamlines the process. If a prototype is built by a design house or other company, the design may need to be changed for production to adapt to the manufacturer’s equipment, creating delays.
Tolerances – Tolerances help manufacturers understand the level of precision required. Be realistic about tolerances because unnecessary tight tolerances can drive up costs.
Material – Identify the type of material you need for your part. Metal stamping uses a variety of metals and alloys to produce high-quality, consistent parts. Common types of metal include low-carbon steel, high-strength steel, galvanized steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper brass, and more. When choosing a suitable material, it is essential that the part use and environment, as well as compatibility, be considered.
Production volume – Consider your part volumes initially and annually. Metal stamping requires a tooling investment, so very low volumes may not be suitable for metal stamping.
Timelines – Have an idea of when you need your parts but have realistic expectations. Remember that tooling must be built once the design is finalized. However, with that said, some stamped metal part manufacturers run their operations more efficiently and may be able to meet a shorter timeline.
Define Your Expectations for Your Stamped Metal Parts Manufacturer
Defining the component requirements is only part of what will make your partnership successful. List the things that have been pain points for you in the past, even if they were minor. Unresponsiveness, late orders, lack of technical expertise, poor quality control, and inefficiency are just a few of the characteristics that can derail a program and leave a bad taste in your mouth. Also, list what you appreciated about them or your expectations for your metal stamping partner. Prioritize your list to quickly identify which things are non-negotiable and what you are more flexible with. Finding the perfect partner is the goal, but depending on how long your list is, you may need to compromise.
Research Potential Manufacturers
Use multiple resources to research metal stamping manufacturers, such as online resources, industry organizations (e.g., Precision Metalforming Association), and referrals from trusted sources. Take note of location, capabilities, and services to create a shortlist. Ensure they are a well-established company – they have probably endured challenging times and will be more financially stable, and they will likely have more experience to draw from when it comes to problem solving. Once you have a short list, you can take a deeper dive into the company,
Evaluate Technical Capabilities
Once you have a short list, you can dive deeper into their capabilities, quality, and other services you may require. When speaking with them, verify the items that put them on your shortlist. Other key aspects to consider are:
Equipment and capabilities – If they don’t have the capabilities you need, it will be a no-go from the start. Also, look at their equipment. Are they investing in the best equipment, technology, and processes? Quality equipment can usually predict better quality products, precision, and cost-effectiveness.
Quality assurance – Look for a partner with an established and documented quality system. Certification to ISO 9001, and IATF 16949 for automotive, means they have a quality management system and are committed to meeting customer satisfaction requirements and delivering products that meet quality specifications.
Engineering support – Whether or not you think you need engineering support, it can bring cost savings and increased efficiency through recommendations to improve part performance or manufacturability.
Evaluate Partnership Potential
One way to tell if they have what it takes to be a good partner is by assessing their responsiveness and communication – a collaborative working relationship should be two-sided. You can determine the company’s responsiveness and communication through initial emails and phone calls. If they are slow to respond or don’t answer your questions in a reasonable time before they get your business, imagine what it will be like after securing it.
Do they seem to be collaborative? Ask about their project management approach and involvement with design processes. Ask for proof that they are experts. Can they provide examples of similar challenges? How did they identify the problem if it wasn’t brought to them, and how did they find a solution?
If possible, visit the manufacturer’s facility. This will provide an opportunity to see how organized they are and how well they seem to be running; evaluate their capacity, equipment, and quality system; and speak directly with engineers. You can learn a lot about a company by walking its manufacturing floor.
Request a Quote
Request quotes from the manufacturers on your shortlist, providing detailed specifications and requirements for your project. Compare the quotes in terms of pricing and lead times, but keep in mind total costs. The manufacturer should want to review the quote with you and explain anything you don’t understand. Remember the adage, ‘You get what you pay for.’
If you are looking for a stamped metal parts manufacturer to be a partner – one who will collaborate and treat your project as if it were their own, reciprocity is essential. Responsiveness on your part allows them to serve you better. If they have questions about your project, getting answers quickly will keep the process running smoothly.
Get Timely, High Quality, Innovative Solutions
We understand the importance of partnering with stamped metal parts providers that strive to meet your needs consistently. The implications of choosing the wrong partner are higher costs, supply chain disruptions, unhappy customers, and headaches. When you need expertise and experience to manufacture your precision metal part at a competitive cost, Die-Matic is a partner you can count on!
Take the first step in our partnership by requesting a quote, and experience the benefits of a true partnership!