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 Used in Custom Metal Stamping Process

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.

Learn More About Using Steel Alloys 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 custom 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 alloy project, contact us today and a member of our team will walk you through all the details.


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

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.

Keats Manufacturing Achieves IATF 16949:2016 Certification

Keats Manufacturing is pleased to announce that we have achieved certification under IATF 16949:2016, a technical specification for quality management systems in the automotive sector as set forth by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF).

What is IATF 16949:2016 certification?

A Quality Management System (QMS) is a set of processes, policies, records, and documented procedures that lay out the internal rules under which a company produces and delivers its products and services to customers. Within the automotive industry, one of the most ubiquitous international standards for quality management is the ISO/TS 16949. This standard harmonizes the various certification systems and assessments in the world’s automotive supply chain.

What is the significance of the certification?

This IATF certification demonstrates a consistent commitment to customer satisfaction and quality of products and services. Both internal and external audits of our QMS documentation show that Keats Manufacturing has a high-standard Quality Management System in place and that we operate accordingly.

What requirements must a company meet to be certified?

IATF16949 consists of 11 sections, seven of which detail the requirements for an organization’s QMS in order to qualify for certification:

  • Section 4: Context of the organization – The organization must determine its context in terms of the QMS, including the needs and expectations of interested parties.
  • Section 5: Leadership – Top management must show leadership and commitment to implementation of the QMS as well as assign process owners and other roles and responsibilities.
  • Section 7: Support – This section details the QMS requirements for infrastructure, people, organizational knowledge, competence, communication, awareness, work environment, monitoring and measuring of resources, and documentation of information.
  • Section 8: Operation – The organization must meet product requirements in all aspects of planning and creating their product or service. This section addresses planning, review of product requirements, design, purchasing, creation of products or services, and control of the equipment for monitoring and measuring the product or service.
  • Section 9: Performance evaluation – The organization must effectively monitor the functionality of the QMS. They must assess customer satisfaction, perform internal audits, monitor products and processes, and review management.
  • Section 10: Improvement – An organization must continually improve the QMS, meeting requirements for nonconformities and corrective actions, error-proofing processes, and problem solving.

Once the processes and procedures have been designed and implemented for a period of time, the records collected during the operation of the QMS serve as the basis for audits, reviews of the system, and, ultimately, certification.

How is this newer version of the certification different?

The updated version of ISO/TS 16949, IATF 16949:2016 was published on October 3rd, 2016. It replaces the previous ISO/TS 16949 and sets forth the requirements for a QMS used by an organization within the automotive industry. Meant to be used with ISO 9001:2015, it supplements the requirements for a stand-alone QMS, customizing the standard to the specifics of the automotive industry.

IATF 16949:2016 blends various standards from across the United States and Europe. It outlines best practices for the design, development, manufacture, installation, and service of automotive products. This international measure of quality is the gold standard for any company to develop a system for ensuring improvement and customer satisfaction.

What does the certification mean for Keats’ customers?

We take automotive quality very seriously. The purpose of the IATF certification is to ensure that our customers can rely on faithful delivery of high-quality products. Keats Manufacturing has long been committed to customer satisfaction and ongoing improvements, and this certification is evidence of that commitment.

To download our IATF 16949:2016 certification and our other quality certifications, click here.

Custom Assembly Services for Every Industry

At Keats Manufacturing Co., we’re proud of our ability to meet customers’ exact custom needs, whether clients require a single prototype or tens of millions of pieces.

Our custom assembly capabilities include multiple-stage tooling to eliminate secondaries, plastic injection molding, in-line contact staking insertion, and welding.

assembly services keats manufacturing

We can create in-die tapped and threaded holes with or without screw/fasteners insertions, and also offer in-line part-to-part assembly to reduce component costs. Brackets, clips, bushings, shields, terminals, stampings, lead frames, and wire forms are the foundation of our offerings.  Just-in-Time (JIT) delivery ensures all even the tightest deadlines are met — every time, for every project.

Keats serves a wide range of industries, including automotive, aerospace, communications, construction, medical and medical device, electrical, appliances, military, and general manufacturing. Our stamping, tapping, and threading services meet or exceed strict industry standards — including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, TS 16949, Mil-Spec, PMA, SMI, and TMA — and we employ advanced, state-of-the-art technologies and equipment to meet customers’ unique requests and ensure optimal product reliability. Before any of our products ship out, they undergo thorough final inspections.

Custom Capabilities

We have more than 55 years of experience manufacturing high-quality custom small metal stampings, wire forms, and assemblies, and proudly employ 25 of the industry’s most experienced die makers. Both of Keats’ locations house more than 142 metal stamping and wire forming machines, and we offer sophisticated four-slide/multi-slide and stamping press technologies — allowing us to accommodate high-volume orders of up to 50 million parts. Keats offers various custom metal fabrication capabilities, including bending, drawing, cutting, flattening, stretching, and straightening.

Below are some examples of our previous custom manufacturing work.

  • Spring contact for hearing aids — Keats manufactured a beryllium copper spring contact for a large medical-component manufacturer. The 120,000 spring contacts, which were ultimately used in hearing aids, complied with tight tolerances of 0.0005 inch. The springs also required gold plating, which we were able to provide within the given time frame.


  • Copper terminal assembly for timer control — Our team manufactured and assembled a copper top spring stamping and contact assembly for use in appliance timer controls. We made use of AutoCAD software to design the automated assembly for terminals, blades, and contacts, which were individually stamped. The brass used in these pieces was pre-plated with 100% tin to allow for optimal corrosion resistance, and the silver contacts were assembled during stamping. The client’s 300,000 pieces were provided through JIT delivery.


  • Steering wheel sensor terminal — This 0.0238-inch thick phosphor bronze terminal was manufactured for use in automotive steering position sensors. We made use of our precision stamping services to manufacture 1 million of these terminals, each of which was plated with bright tin to provide reliable corrosion resistance, ensuring optimal longevity and safety.


  • Phospor bronze automotive terminals — Keats designed and built reel-to-reel phosphor bronze terminals for an automotive lighting application, meeting ultra-tight tolerances — as tight as 0.005 inch. We continue to manufacture as many as 850,000 of these terminals annually for this specific customer.


custom assemblies for automotive industry

  • Hinged contact jaw for electrical box — The team at Keats turned out 1 million hinged contact jaw pieces using a multi-slide stamping process, maintaining a tolerance of 0.002 inch. The jaws were also nickel-plated to ensure optimal electrical conductivity.


  • Copper automotive terminal — We made terminal wire forms for sensors used in the automotive industry. The 0.082-inch terminals were formed from copper alloy wires. A tolerance of 0.001 inch was achieved.


  • Medical stainless formed wire link — Wire links for use in medical devices were manufactured from ASTM-standard fine stainless steel wire. Keats’ expert design team created the tools needed to produce 1 million of these wire links, and our state-of-the-art equipment and engineering expertise helped us to achieve tolerances as low as 0.0002 inch.


  • Annealed spring link cartridge — Keats designed and built a series of annealed spring steel link cartridges for use in critical military applications. We formed the cartridges from 0.040-inch thick annealed spring steel, meeting precision tolerances of ±0.005 inch.

Learn More

The expert team Keats Manufacturing works closely with clients to create top-quality products tailored to their exact specifications and requirements. Serving a huge range of industries, Keats offers various custom fabrication services — including high-volume multi-slide and four-slide precision metal stamping, punching, forming, small progressive die stamping, and tool design — to make your vision a reality. For more information on our custom capabilities or to learn more about our previous work, contact the team today.