Industry Focus: Metal Stamped Parts for the Automotive Industry

Throughout our more than 50 years of business, the engineers at Keats Manufacturing have been producing the highest quality custom small metal stampings, wire forms, and assemblies for a wide range of industries.

Listed below are several examples of custom products that Keats has manufactured for customers in the automotive industry:

Positioning Sensor for Steering Wheel

Keats was sent a 0.0238” thick phosphor bronze material and our engineering team was tasked with turning that raw material into terminals to be used in numerous automotive steering wheel sensors.

Using our precision custom stamping services, Keats was able to design, build, and package one million of these terminals and ship them to the client’s location in Europe. In addition, these terminals were also plated with bright tin to increase their corrosion resistance. The reel-to-reel plating process that we performed ensured uniform deposition of the coating and significantly helped to decrease overall cost.

Fuel Injection Steel Shield for Engines

An automotive manufacturer provided Keats with a print and a .DWG AutoCAD file that contained specifications of a fuel injection steel shield that was required for use in automotive engines.

Using DCC programmable CMMs, our precision stamping process allowed us to manufacture one million parts from 1008/1010 cold rolled steel with tight tolerances of 0.003”. Zinc phosphate coating was then applied because of their paint bonding characteristics. We were able to complete and deliver this order with a turnaround time of 15 days.

Terminal Wire Forms for Sensors

One client came to Keats with a need for terminals to be used in sensors for various automotive parts. Starting with copper alloy wires with a thickness of 0.082”, the Keats engineering team leveraged our in-house AutoCAD and tooling machinery to achieve tolerances of 0.001” to manufacture 25,000 terminal wire forms with chamfered ends. The entire process, including delivery, took 30 days from start-to-finish.

More Products for Automotive Applications

To see where else Keats’ metal stamped products are used throughout the automotive industry, check out our new interactive infographic.

How Electrical Terminals Are Used in the Auto Industry

In today’s vehicles, almost all internal systems are controlled by an array of electrical terminals and connectors. These increasingly complex devices govern dozens of onboard functions, engine controls, safety features, and infotainment platforms — all while delivering critical feedback to the driver in real-time.

Close up of dashboard on sports carWhat are electrical contacts and terminals?

A network of electrical contacts must be implemented to appropriately wire an increasing number of electrical systems within the vehicle. Most electrical connectors for the auto industry are comprised of a two-piece socket and tab design. The male and female component ends, made of conductive and flexible materials respectively, allow the connectors to easily attach and disconnect from other pieces within the vehicle.

Connectors provide cars with electrical conductivity to power its systems, as well as electrical and thermal resistance to withstand vibrations, harmful chemicals, and outside elements. As more vehicle functionality depends on the proper operation of these electronic devices, it is crucial that each automotive wire terminal and connector is durable and protected.

What are some commonly used materials?

Engineers can accomplish a variety of design goals by modifying their choices for core and plating materials. Different considerations such as cost, conductivity, reliability, and thermal stability all have a hand in determining which material is the right fit for the application.

Keats-Phosphor-Bronze-Terminal-StampingCommonly used materials for auto industry electric terminals include:

  • Various grades of steel
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Phosphor bronze
  • Various silver oxides
  • Various metal plating such as tin to enhance fretting and corrosion resistance

Keats provides major automotive manufacturers with pre-post, selective, and precious plating, and secondary custom wire forming with selecting plating for their electrical terminals. We combine technological innovation including four/multi slide forming, progressive die& metal stamping, CAD/CAM, and five EDM and CNC machines — managed by some of the industry’s most experienced die makers — to deliver superior custom-made products.

To learn more about important considerations for electrical terminals in the auto industry, download our eBook, “Design Tips for Automotive Electrical Contacts & Terminals.”

Keats to exhibit at Mexico’s Automotive Meetings Trade Show and Mexico’s Manufacturing Supply Chain Summit

From February 20-22, Keats Manufacturing will be exhibiting at Automotive Meetings, the annual international automotive manufacturing forum. Held at the Queretaro Congress and Convention Center in Queretaro, this exciting event — the only auto supply chain event in Mexico — brings together industry-leading OEMs from across the globe.

The team at Keats Manufacturing is also pleased to announce that we’ll be exhibiting at Mexico’s Manufacturing Supply Chain Summit at the El Paso Convention Center in El Paso, Texas, on February 23.

Mexico’s Automotive Meetings Trade Show

automotive meetings banner

The 2017 Automotive Meetings event will feature talks and panels on a wide range of subjects; topics include “Prospects for the Automotive Industry in Mexico: A New Relationship in the American Continent,” “How to do business with Tier 1 Companies from the Automotive Industry?,” “The Development of the Supply Chain of the Automotive Industry,” and “World-Class Logistics: A Key Ingredient for the Automotive Industry.”

OEM procurement and supply chain policy sessions, presented exclusively by large OEMs, will provide in-depth analysis of cutting-edge supply chain strategies. Various workshops will be available as well, focusing either on technologies or products and allowing attendees to gain further knowledge on the current state of the market and the evolution of the automotive industry.

Prearranged, one-on-one meetings will also be offered, allowing contract manufacturers to meet with potential partners and map out possible business opportunities, as OEMs and tier 1 and 2 suppliers will be showcasing their automotive-application services.

Mexico’s Manufacturing Supply Chain Summit

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The focus of this year’s conference will be “Maquiladoras in the Trump Era.” Various speakers will be discussing the effects the Trump administration may have on the maquiladora (manufacturing) and export industries in Mexico — an increasingly important topic as the country’s manufacturing industries continue to expand in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, electrical, and medical sectors.

Specific seminar and panel topics include “Texas-Mexico Border Strengthens North America,” “Mexico’s Aerospace Industry Supply Chain Development under Trump’s Administration,” “NAFTA in Motion,” and “Appliances Industry Supply Chain in Mexico in the Trump Era.”

At the Supply Chain Summit event, buyers will have the chance to connect with potential suppliers in prearranged, one-on-one private meetings. Industry leaders will also be speaking in detail about the structure of the country’s supply chains, manufacturing cost-reduction options, intellectual property protection, and labor and fiscal trends impacting foreign firms in Mexico.

Connect with the Keats Team

The Keats Team will be showcasing our capabilities and be on hand to answer any questions you may have about our services, which include high-volume multi-slide and four-slide precision metal stamping, precision metal bending, punching, forming, small precision progressive die stamping, and complex and precision tool and die maintenance and manufacturing. For more than 50 years, we’ve been creating high-quality custom metal stampings, assemblies, and wire forms for a range of industries.

To learn more about how Keats can help with your next project or the upcoming events we will be attending, feel free to contact us today. We hope to see you there!

Keats Opening New Metal Manufacturing Facility in Mexico

Keats Manufacturing has come a long way since our founding in 1958. Starting out with just three employees at our original location in Northwest Chicago, we now have a team in the triple digits, and we’ve just added our third manufacturing plant. We’re very proud to announce the opening of our Keats de Mexico facility.

Capabilities

mexico-facThe new Keats facility in El Marques, Querétaro, will offer full metal manufacturing services, all backed by our original company promise of precision, quality, and performance. Our services here will include:

  • High-volume multi-slide and four-slide precision metal stamping
  • Precision metal bending
  • Punching
  • Forming
  • Small precision progressive die stamping, from 35-150 tons
  • Complex and precision tool and die maintenance and manufacturing

At this location, we’ll produce cost-efficient stamped parts for a wide range of industries, including automotive, aerospace, electrical, and construction.

Quality

Our new facility stands by our old values, which we take into consideration in everything we do; backed by almost six decades of experience, we work to obtain the highest level of quality for every project, every time. To ensure optimal quality, we fully comply with the following professional certification standards:

  • ISO 9001
  • TS 16949
  • ISO 14001

Our robust quality management system, in effect at both of our U.S. plants, will be adapted specifically for this new facility, as we work from day one to build an operations history that will allow us to obtain the above certifications for this location as we do in our other 2 facilities.

Floor Plan and Facility

The 15,000-square-foot production space at Keats de Mexico is outfitted with top-of-the-line machinery to handle all types of jobs, no matter how complex. In addition to a full tool and die plant, we’ll have the following metal fabrication machines on the floor:

  • Eight production machines
  • Four four-slide machines
  • Four progressive die presses

Keats and the Future of Manufacturing

With approximately $2.5 million in new annual business ahead, we can’t wait to start a busy first year at Keats de Mexico, which will be producing nearly 50 million parts per year. To learn more about our new facility, check out keatsmx.com today.

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Product Highlight: Reel to Reel Terminals and Contacts

At Keats Manufacturing Company, we specialize in building high-precision terminals and contacts for electrical transmission. Essential for the automotive industry and a wealth of other applications, reel to reel custom parts maximize convenience and cost effectiveness.

Reel to reel terminals are valuable for high volume orders of precision parts and are often used in customers’ automated assembly systems. Keats Manufacturing fulfills our customers’ most complex reel to reel requirements with technologically advanced equipment, providing contacts and terminals on lead frames, tape and reels, custom reel to reel terminals, and returnable/disposable reels.

How We Do It

Reel to Reel TerminalsCreating reels of close tolerance terminals and contacts requires advanced stamping techniques. We employ progressive die and four-slide/multi-slide stamping to manufacture enormous volumes of high-precision components (sometimes 20 million or more parts) with the industry’s closest tolerances, including down to ± .001”.

This process starts with the latest AutoCAD software to design custom tooling and ends with complete manufacturing, inspection, and delivery to the customer. With the use of quality materials such as copper, brass, phosphor bronze, various silver oxides, and grades of steel, our stamping processes fulfill virtually any requirement for volume and accuracy.

Progressive Die Stamping

No matter how complex or precise the final product needs to be, progressive die stamping is an efficient and accurate solution. The process itself is fairly simple: materials are fed through a series of progressive stamping stations until the final part is complete.

Though the process is fairly simple, our equipment is impressive, offering quick die change and 5 to 150 tons of die pressure to achieve tight tolerances on parts with multiple critical dimensions. The process combines premium accuracy with high volume capabilities, easily producing orders up to 20 million parts or more.

Progressive stamping is accomplished using multiple forming and cutting stations, with quality assured by high-tech digital part inspections. Fully automated and hand packaging are both available, as well as careful tape and reel packing, which ensures that all of our customers’ parts are delivered in the best possible condition.

Four-Slide Stamping

Steel ShieldHighly efficient and cost effective, four-slide stamping employs die pressure ranging from 1 to 40 tons of raw materials in flat sheet metal form. These machines combine multiple processes into one piece of equipment, forming and shaping high volumes of parts with the utmost accuracy. Though this involves a more complex process, it is preferable for use in many types of projects.

There are numerous advantages to part production using a four slide machine. The first is lower costs: these units require less labor, less material handling, and less expensive equipment than progressive die stamping systems. Four-slide stamping machines also require no die set and are generally more productive.

Multiple Machines for Complex Requirements

Depending on the complexity and material requirements of our customers’ projects, multiple machining processes may be necessary. A full array of high-tech equipment is available in our facility in addition to our stamping machines — all of which are operated and overseen by the most experienced machinists and die-makers in the industry. These include multiple EDM, CNC machines, and more.

At Keats, our quality is unsurpassed. We ensure that every step of the design and manufacturing process is completed to meet the industry’s most stringent requirements, with final inspections performed before every delivery.

For us, efficiency is just as important as quality. We maintain fully up-to-date Kanban software to ensure our customers receive Just-In-Time (JIT) delivery whenever required — even for the highest volume orders. Whenever a question or issue arises, our highly responsive customer service team is there to help.

With our high volume capabilities and precision machinery, we are a perfect match for all customers who need reel to reel terminals and contacts.

For more information about these products and their industrial applications, check out our eBook, Design Considerations for Automotive Electrical Contacts & Terminals.

Contact us today to find out more about our precision metal stampings or to request a custom quote.

Download the eBook: Design Tips for Automotive Electrical Systems