Is Precision Metal Stamping Right for Your Application?

Precision metal stamping is a manufacturing process that utilizes a custom tool and die set installed in a stamping press to turn sheet metal into the desired components. It is used in a wide range of industries to create large quantities of parts and products with high precision, accuracy, and speed. While this process offers manufacturing advantages, it is not appropriate for every production project.

The following article discusses some of the considerations to keep in mind when determining whether precision metal stamping is right for your project. It provides an overview of the process, the benefits it offers, and the typical industries that use it.

An Overview of Precision Metal Stamping

Metal stamping—also sometimes referred to as pressing—relies on specialized tooling (i.e., a tool and die set) and equipment (i.e., a press) to form metal sheets and coils into the required shape and size. The pressure exerted on the workpiece by the press forces the material to conform to the shape formed by the tool and die. This process can occur in a single stage or across several stages, depending on the simplicity or complexity of the end product. Precision metal stamping operations largely rely on the use of automated equipment, which ensures the finished components are both precise and accurate.

In addition to higher precision and accuracy, some of the other advantages the precision metal stamping process demonstrates over other manufacturing processes include:

  • Greater product and process quality. Accuracy offered by the precision metal stamping process translates to a lower error rate during production. This means there is a smaller chance of producing faulty or flawed parts making it into the hands of customers.
  • Lower production costs. A generally automated process, precision metal stamping mitigates the need for manual labor. This quality also results in a lower error rate, which translates to less material utilization and waste during a production run.

Industries Served

As indicated above, the precision metal stamping process finds application in a wide range of industries. Some of the industries that regularly employ the process for the production of their parts and products include:

Automotive

Metal Stamping for AutomotiveIn the automotive industry, stamping is used to create a variety of structural and functional parts used in vehicle bodies and frames, electrical systems, steering systems, and more. Some examples of typical automobile parts made in metal stamping operations include:

  • Brackets and hangers
  • Electrical terminals and connectors
  • Wire forms (e.g., tire and under chassis components)

Aerospace

In the aerospace industry, parts and products are subject to strict manufacturing requirements and restrictions. These guidelines are in place to ensure the safety of the aircraft’s personnel and passengers and the public. For this reason, aerospace components manufacturers (e.g., Keats Manufacturing Co.) maintain certification and compliance with various industry standards such as Mil-spec and RoHS. Some of the metal stamped parts and products commonly produced for aerospace applications include:

  • Assemblies
  • Brackets
  • Bushings
  • Clips
  • Lead frames
  • Shields
  • Terminals
  • Wire forms

Medical Devices

Metal Stamping for Medical DevicesSimilar to the aerospace industry, the medical device industry has many standards dictating how a component should be made. These exceptionally high standards ensure the safety of medical practitioners and patients. Standard and custom metal stampings are found in a variety of medical devices, including:

  • Connectors, couplings, and fittings
  • Equipment housing and sleeves
  • Implants and prosthetics
  • Pump and motor components
  • Surgical instruments and equipment
  • Temperature probes

Electrical Distribution

Professionals in the electrical distribution industry make use of many different metal stamped parts and products in circuit breakers, distribution boxes, switches, transformers, and other critical equipment. Some examples include:

  • Brackets
  • Clips
  • Contacts
  • Inserts
  • Shields
  • Terminals

Appliances

Metal Stamping for Appliances - Washing MachinePrecision metal stampings are found in a wide range of commercial and residential appliances, such as:

  • Automatic garage doors
  • Dishwashers
  • Dryers
  • Garbage disposals
  • Grills
  • HVAC units
  • Irrigation systems
  • Ovens
  • Pool filtration and pump systems
  • Refrigerators
  • Security systems
  • Stoves
  • Thermostats
  • Washers
  • Water heaters

Renewable Energy

The renewable energy industry encompasses solar, wind, geothermal, and other clean energy operations. As the industry grows in response to the push for greater sustainability, so too does the need for reliable parts for power generation and distribution equipment and systems. Some of the metal stamped components regularly produced for such applications are:

  • Antennas
  • Brackets and clips
  • Cases, inserts, and retainers
  • Fan blades
  • Grounding straps and busbars
  • Heat sinks
  • Plates
  • Shields
  • Terminals and contacts

Contact the Precision Metal Stamping Experts at Keats Manufacturing Today

The precision metal stamping process plays a critical role in the production of components for many industries. For customers looking for an experienced and knowledgeable metal stamping partner, the Keats Manufacturing team is here to help.

At Keats Manufacturing, we’ve provided custom small metal stamping solutions for over 60 years. Armed with extensive manufacturing experience and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, we can fulfill nearly every metal stamping request with a high-quality product solution. To find out more about our metalworking capabilities or partner with us on your next project, contact us or request a quote today.

Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

An aluminum alloy is a chemical composition in which other elements are added to pure aluminum to enhance its properties—primarily to improve its strength. The elements often added to aluminum include:

  • Silicon
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese

They can sometimes make up at least 15% of the final alloy by weight.

Aluminum Alloys

Every aluminum alloy is assigned a four-digit number. The first digit identifies the general class, or series, that is characterized by its main alloying elements. The types of alloys include:

  • Commercially pure alloys
  • Heat-treatable alloys
  • Non-heat-treatable alloys

Temper designations for non-heat-treatable alloys are indicated by a suffix added to the alloy number.

Some key characteristics of aluminum alloys are:

  • High strength-to-weight ratio
  • Flexible and malleable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Shiny and smooth decorative finish that requires little maintenance
  • Thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Low temperature resistance

Aluminum alloys provide a variety of benefits, particularly for applications that need strength without heavy weight. The alloys are one of the lightest metals used in commercial projects, and they often appear in applications for the transportation industry because reductions in weight help with fuel savings. Furthermore, aluminum alloys’ light weight and natural corrosion resistance result in the parts lasting longer as well as allowing them to be made from significantly less raw material. Since aluminum is flexible and malleable, metal stamping can form aluminum and aluminum alloys into complex geometric shapes.

Aluminum alloy applications include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Aerospace
  • Building & construction
  • Automotive
  • Foil & packaging
  • Electronics & appliances

Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

There are three main aluminum alloys used for metal stamping:

  • 1100: Commercially pure aluminum. It is ductile and soft, with good workability. It’s useful for applications that require intricate forming because it hardens slower than other alloys. Common applications include kitchenware, decorative trim, and giftware.
  • 3003: The most frequently used of all aluminum alloys. It is commercially pure aluminum with manganese added, which increases its strength by about 20% over 1100. It has great corrosion-resistance and workability, allowing it to be welded, deep drawn or spun, or brazed. Common applications include cooking utensils, kitchen equipment, and chemical equipment.
  • 5052: The highest strength alloy of the common non-heat-treatable grades. Its fatigue strength is better than other alloys, and it has excellent resistance to the marine atmosphere and saltwater corrosion. It has optimal workability and good finishing characteristics. Its common applications include aircraft components, home appliances, and heavy-duty cooking utensils.

When choosing an aluminum grade, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Its level of formability or workability
  • Weldability
  • Machining
  • Its level of corrosion-resistance
  • Heat treating
  • Strength
  • Typical end-use applications

Contact Us for the Top Selection of Aluminum Alloys

For the best turnaround time and price, Keats Manufacturing recommends selecting common gauge and common alloys. Since 1958, we have been crafting stamped metal parts to each client’s needs. We have a strict adherence to our quality control system, ensuring that your customer satisfaction and confidence are our top priority.

Over the decades, unique projects and parts have come through our facility. Decisions for design details and custom tooling influence the performance of the parts, but the material used is always the most critical decision made in the manufacturing process.

To learn more about how we can help with your next project, contact our team. For more information about the materials we use, check out our downloadable eBook, Choosing the Best Raw Materials.

Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

Steel Alloys for Metal Stamping

Steel is one of the most widely used alloys and is comprised of carbon (less than 2%) and manganese (1%). Other small amounts of silicon, phosphorus, sulphur, and oxygen are also present. Steel is an integral component to almost all forms of production and construction, ranging from surgical equipment to household items.

This type of metal is 100% recyclable, and steel products last for approximately 40 years. It is produced from either the Blast Furnace Basic Oxygen Route (BF-BOF) or from the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) route. Both of these routes contribute to the production of crude steel. The Blast Furnace Basic Furnace Oxygen Route utilizes the following to manufacture crude steel:

  • Iron ore
  • Coal
  • Limestone
  • Steel scrap

The Electric Arc Furnace Method utilizes all of these and electricity for crude steel manufacturing.

Since the magnetic properties remain unchanged, this metal can be continuously recycled. Recycled steel can serve as input for BF-BOF and EAP methods, contributing to the production of many new steel products. They contain approximately 37% of recycled steel. Because of its lightweight structure, cost efficiency, corrosion resistance, and energy efficiency, steel is used in almost every type of building and construction process. Applications constructed with this material include:

  • Automobiles
  • Buildings and infrastructure
  • Metal products
  • Mechanical/electrical equipment
  • Domestic appliances

Types of Steel Alloys

There are more than 3,500 grades of steel that are integral to engineering and construction projects. All contain forms of sulphur, phosphorus, and manganese. Manganese is beneficial to steel’s sustainability; however, too much phosphorus and sulphur in the alloy can have detrimental effects on steel’s durable properties.

There are four categories of this material:

Carbon Steels are used in 90% of steel production and contain trace elements of alloy products. They are classified into three subcategories: low, medium, and high. Low carbon steels contain up to 0.3% carbon, medium steels contain 0.3-0.6% carbon, and high steels contain more than 0.6%. They can be formed into a variety of shapes, ranging from Flat Sheet to Structural Beam.

Alloy Steels are used for pipelines, transformers, auto parts, power generators, and electric motors. Heat applications soften the material for welding and cutting applications. They contain:

  • Manganese
  • Silicon
  • Nickel
  • Titanium
  • Copper
  • Chromium
  • Aluminum

Stainless Steels are extremely resistant to corrosion, due to its high chromium content (10-20%). They are grouped into three subcategories, based on crystalline molecular structure:

  • Austenitic (piping, kitchen utensils)
  • Ferritic (automotive, appliances, industrial equipment)
  • Martensitic (cutting tools, dental, and surgical equipment)

Tool Steels are durable and heat resistant. The addition of tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium makes the raw material suitable for the production of dental and surgical equipment.

Custom Steel Metal Stamping for Your Next Project

At Keats Manufacturing Company, we provide custom steel metal stamping. Since 1958, we have produced assortments of components for industries ranging from aerospace and automotive industries to communications, construction, medical, and military industries.

Primary steel alloys we use in the stamping process:

  • 1008 /1010 – Cold Rolled Steel / Low Carbon / Usually cold formed and post plated
  • 1050 – Annealed Spring Steel / Considered High Carbon for us / Usually heat treated after stamping – Used for clips mostly
  • 1075 – Annealed Spring Steel / Considered High Carbon for us / Usually heat treated after stamping – Used for clips mostly
  • HSLA – (High Strength Low Alloy)

We engineer our tool and die sets in-house and frequently work with high-volume production projects. We offer multi-slide and full-slide stamping, which is best suited for complex bending operations for metal parts. We also offer full-service customer metal stamping (heat treating, plating, e-coating, screw insertion, tape and reel). Our focus is on quality control as we strive to customize stamping parts to clients’ specifications, budget, and turnaround time.

To learn more about our products or if you’d like to get started on your steel metal stamping project, contact us today and a member of our team will walk you through all the details.

Steel-Alloys-Used-in-Custom-Metal-Stamping-Process

Copper Alloys for Metal Stamping

Copper is widely regarded as one of the oldest metals used by man. For centuries, copper has been forged and shaped into a variety of useful everyday items from tools and jewelry to, more recently, electrical equipment and household appliances.

Copper possesses a broad range of desirable mechanical and chemical properties, making it one of the most versatile and extensively used engineering materials. The properties of copper can be further enhanced by alloying it with other metals, creating solutions for applications that would otherwise be unsuitable for either material alone.

The construction industry is the single largest consumer of copper, with an annual consumption rate of 47%. The electrical industry is also known for its heavy reliance on copper, with an annual usage of 23%. Other sectors such as the transportation, consumer products, and machining industries account for the remainder of copper usage.

The usage of copper and its alloys continues to grow exponentially, with the total annual consumption across all industries currently exceeding 18 million tons per annum.

Copper Alloys

Copper alloys usually come in the form of brass, phosphor bronze, aluminum bronze, silicon bronze, cupronickel, and nickel silvers. Each of these alloys enhances the properties of copper and can be stamped for use in numerous applications across a broad spectrum of industries. Typical applications for copper alloys include, but are not limited to:

  • Electrical wiring and circuitry
  • Spark plugs
  • Refrigeration tubing and coils
  • Power transmission lines
  • Cooking utensils
  • Heat exchangers
  • Plumbing
  • Arms and ammunition
  • Roofing
  • Architectural cladding

Compared to other metals, copper possesses the highest level of electrical conductivity. second only to silver—the conductivity of copper is 97% that of silver. This attribute, coupled with other unique properties make copper ideal for electrical components such as connectors, coils, and terminals.

Copper is also widely praised for its excellent corrosion resistance, especially in freshwater and high-temperature environments. When exposed to air and moisture, copper forms a thin, durable, and tightly adherent oxide film known as patina. The patina layer acts as a barrier which blocks moisture from coming into contact with the underlying material, thus preventing further corrosion.

Finally, the copper property most pertinent to metal stamping is its formability. Copper is highly malleable and ductile, allowing it to be formed into a variety of shapes for almost any application. Copper alloys such as brasses, bronzes, and nickel silvers increase in strength during cold working in a process known as work hardening. This process readjusts the copper’s crystalline structure, making it resistant to further deformation. Deep drawing, coining, bending, and stretching are some of the forming methods used to create a wide range of components, such as bathroom fixtures and household appliances.

Other desirable properties of copper include excellent biofouling resistance, non-magnetic structure, superior thermal conductivity, and ease of joining (bolting, welding, riveting, brazing, soldering).

Learn More about Copper Metal Stamping

At Keats Manufacturing Company, we implement a robust material requirements planning (MRP) system to ensure an efficient production process. Quantities of copper and other raw materials are planned, scheduled, and controlled to ensure that they are always available when required. For the fastest turnaround for your project, we recommend that you select common copper gauges and common alloy types.

Our manufacturing facilities are outfitted with more than 142 metal stamping and wire forming machines that operate around the clock five days a week. Our specialized tools and qualified staff are capable of meeting almost any production demand and have served the aerospace, medical, construction, military, communications, and electronics industry for 60 years.

If you would like to learn more about metal stamping and the best materials for your application, feel free to download our free eBook: Choosing the Best Raw Materials.

Copper Alloys for Metal Stamping

Metal Stamping in the Automotive Sector

Automobiles rely on a wide range of components to operate safely and efficiently. Most of these components — which are found in every part of a vehicle, from its frame to its electrical systems — are manufactured using metal stamping and precision machining methods.

Metal stamping, also referred to as pressing, involves placing a sheet or coil of metal into a press and forming it into the desired shape over a die or mold. This can be done in one stage or over several stages, depending on the complexity of the required end product.

Automotive stamping allows for the manufacture of many different functioning parts, which are used in automotive bodies and frames, as well as electrical, steering, alternator, and fuel systems. These components play a crucial role in ensuring optimal safety and functionality.

Terminals and Electrical Connectors

The auto industry produces thousands of vehicles a year, and hundreds of terminals and electrical connectors are installed in each vehicle.

Automotive manufacturers typically employ connectors with a two-piece socket and tab design. Using flexible materials, the male and female component ends can easily attach and disconnect, allowing for great durability and flexibility. This is crucial, given the amount of abuse these components take from weather, general wear and tear, chemical exposure, and other harsh elements cars encounter on the road.

As the auto industry depends more and more on electrical systems, demand will rise for highly protected, durable terminals and connectors. These components can be made from a variety of different materials — including copper, brass, phosphor bronze, and various grades of steel — using four/multi-slide forming and progressive die and metal stamping techniques.

Automotive Wire Forms

The wire forming process involves pulling a strip of metal through a series of lubricated metal dies or molds so it can take the desired shape. Allowing for many wire sizes and shapes, this simple, versatile process can even be applied to glass. Commonly worked materials include titanium and copper, but the ideal material choice will depend on the specific application at hand.

Wire formed products are used in a wide range of applications, including construction, which makes use of rebar, as well as heating elements and even mattresses, which make use of springs and coils. In the auto industry, wire formed products are found in tires and under chassis.

Automotive Brackets and Hangers

Metal brackets are also found in many different automotive applications — door panels, instrument panels, fender assemblies, and airbags, to name just a few. Primarily used to fasten one component to another, brackets can be manufactured from metals such as steel, as well as various other high-strength, oxidation-resistant alloys. Since automotive brackets may be exposed to the elements, these properties are particularly important.

Learn More about Automotive Stamping

Metal stamping and precision machining techniques are essential for ensuring optimal safety, reliability, and comfort in all types of vehicles. These processes, whether complex or simple, require experienced and dedicated technicians; companies should be sure to partner with knowledgeable industry leaders who can provide reliable solutions tailored to the specific application at hand. Components must be durable enough to withstand years of use in varying road and weather conditions, so quality is of utmost importance.

At Keats Manufacturing Co., we’re proud to offer industry-leading wire form design and manufacturing services. Committed to quality in everything we do, our facilities are ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and TS 16949 compliant, and we make use of the latest technological innovations, including CAD/CAM. Our operations are overseen by 25 of the industry’s most experienced die makers.

For more information on our custom metal stamping services for the automotive industry and discuss automotive component manufacturing options for your unique application, reach out to the team today.

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