From Design to Production: A Step-by-Step Guide to Metal Stamped Parts
Metal stamping is a versatile, efficient, and precise manufacturing process that many businesses rely upon. It is a forming technique that involves transforming flat metal sheets or coils into more complex shapes using a stamping press and tooling. Metal stamped parts are vital to critical applications in a range of industries, including automotive, construction, medical, industrial, military and defense, and alternative energy.
Because metal stamping can be advantageous for so many different applications, it’s useful to have a deeper understanding of what the process involves and how manufacturers achieve precision and quality through metal stamping.
Preparing for Metal Stamped Parts
Before producing metal stamping parts, manufacturers and their clients must go through a series of important steps to ensure the final product meets expectations.
The first step is often the design phase. During the design phase, engineers and product designers work together to make sure that the part meets the desired functionality, cost, and quality requirements. It can be an extensive process, but it often involves material selection, obtaining cross-functional team input, defining tolerances and specifications, prototyping and testing, and maintaining documentation.
Preparing for the production of metal stamping parts also involves careful consideration of tooling. Tooling is pivotal to an efficient, precise, and successful manufacturing process. Choosing the right tools involves selecting the appropriate dies for the project and collaborating with design engineers to prove out the intended process in the prototype phase.
Manufacturers are also essential for ensuring the safety of metal stamped parts with tools designed to remove burrs and smooth out sharp edges.
How Metal Stamped Parts are Produced
A progressive die is a sequence of stations that allows for a specific design or part to be produced after a coil has passed through each station. Ergo, the name “progressive” die. In essence, a coil (or strip) of metal is fed through station #1, then stamped before being moved to station #2 and 3 and so on.
While the specifics of the stamping process can and often do vary according to project needs, a basic sequence might look something like the following.
Step #1: Piercing
Piercing involves creating pilot holes or openings in the metal coil. These holes are what keep the coil in place as it is fed through all of the subsequent stations. Without these pilot holes, the metal coil can slip during the rest of the process. Because of that, piercing is essential for producing parts that are accurate and uniform. It also contributes to the repeatability of the stamping process.
Step #2: Trimming
This part of the process can actually involve two or three different stations. Essentially, manufacturers use this phase to trim the outside profile of a part without detaching it from the carrier strip. This allows the part to be movded from one station to another.
Step #3: Forming
The next stations involve forming. When producing metal stamping parts, the forming process is when the shape of the metal component is manipulated to achieve specific contours, bends, and features.
The forming step involves using a forming press or brake press and specialized tools. Common forming techniques include bending, embossing, and coining.
Step #4: Another Round of Trimming For Metal Stamped Parts
Again, this stage may involve two or three stations and allows for the addition any holes, slots, or shapes that may be needed to pierce the parts. This round of trimming comes right after forming because it enhances the accurate placement of those particular features.
Step #5: Cut-Off and Idle
The last series of stations often involve an idle station and the cut-off station. In the cut-off station, the final part is separated from the metal strip. From there, it goes onto a conveyor to exit the tool and press.
Idle stations are on standby in case there are future engineering changes that impact the design of the part, or in case the original die design needs to be modified in the event that it cannot make the part as intended. Think of these stations as spare tires: they are there if needed.
Optional Value-Added Items
Finally, there are some optional value-added items that can be included in the tool & die, including:
In-die “nut” insertion
In-die “stud” insertion
A collaborative metal manufacturing partner can help you decide whether these processes would be beneficial to your project.
Quality Control and Inspection
Quality control and inspection processes are often implemented throughout the process of metal stamping parts. The purpose is to identify and rectify defects, maintain consistency, and deliver high-quality products. In metal stamping, quality is heavily reliant on characteristics of the raw material such as hardness and thickness.
From there, a number of monitoring processes can be put into practice such as:
Statistical process control
Process capability analysis
And final inspection
By implementing robust quality control measures, manufacturers can enhance product reliability, reduce defects, and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
Production doesn’t end when the metal stamping process is complete. In order to produce truly high-quality metal stamped parts, manufacturers rely on a selection of post-stamping processes to refine the products. These processes include:
Cleaning and deburring — This involves cleaning the part of any residues, oils, or contaminants and removing sharp burrs to create smooth edges that are safe for handling.
Surface finishing — Surface finishing enhances the appearance or metal parts and improves corrosion resistance. Common techniques include polishing, buffing, grinding, and shot blasting.
Coating and plating — Coating and plating can provide additional protection from corrosion, improve conductivity, and enhance durability.
Welding Assembly— The use of various welding techniques are used to join separate components together to form a unified structure.
Trust Die-Matic for Your Metal Stamped Parts
At Die-Matic, we provide a range of metal manufacturing services for a variety of industries. Our solutions include precision metal stamping, value-added assemblies, progressive tool and die, prototyping, and welding. With stamping presses that range from 30 to 1,000 tons, we’re equipped to handle your most demanding metal stamping projects.
With the latest in manufacturing technology and a team of highly skilled professionals, we’re committed to being your partners throughout the entirety of production and beyond.