Precision metal stamping, sometimes referred to as progressive metal stamping, is a popular manufacturing process that enables a range of industries to produce incredibly precise parts in an efficient and affordable manner. Manufacturers will opt to use this process for many applications, and having a firm understanding of its advantages and capabilities ensures that you will reap all the benefits when choosing precision metal stamping.
What is Precision Metal Stamping?
This process utilizes machinery fitted with dies in order to transform sheet metal into custom shapes at incredibly tight tolerances. The manufacturer may even be able to complete the piece with a single stroke of the press, which is known as a single-stage operation. More complex pieces may require multiple strokes, which is referred to as a series operation. Precision metal stamping is flexible and adaptable, and is particularly beneficial for high-volume manufacturing.
Its immense level of precision, even for complex parts, is what sets this process apart from similar machining options. Precision metal stamping machinery enables manufacturers to perform microstamping, crafting complex minuscule parts where even the smallest error could render the final product ineffective. The accuracy and efficiency of precision metal stamping in crafting these parts has created a high demand in industries ranging from automotive to aerospace.
The Precision Metal Stamping Process
Projects using precision metal stamping will typically begin with computer modeling, virtually simulating the stamping process to check for errors or defects. Once this testing is complete, the computer will send the design straight to the machinery in an efficient process that reduces the chances of human error.
There are three main tooling methods for precision metal stamping:
- Soft Tooling. A straightforward, single-machine method for smaller production runs.
- Stage Tooling. Adds several machines to the process, with workers manually moving the workpiece between machines.
- Hard Tooling. A fully automated process best for high volume output.
Depending on the project and tooling method, manufacturers may choose from a myriad of techniques to use, including:
Precision Metal Stamping Benefits
Parts crafted with this process are often much more accurate and demonstrate tighter tolerances than those machined using alternate methods. There are five key advantages to precision metal stamping.
With rapid output and reduced need for labor, precision metal stamping is an affordable option, particularly for bigger projects. These cost savings are increased by the accuracy of the process, which reduces the need for re-machining parts.
Quality and Accuracy
Precision metal stamping consistently creates high quality, accurate parts with a drastic reduction in human error. With this process, manufacturers are able to machine incredibly complex parts for industries with a low tolerance for error.
Once the manufacturer has set the dies, the machines are able to put out high volumes of the same design with no need for manual intervention.
For complex projects requiring microstamping or detailed work, precision metal stamping is often the best solution. Where other types of machining may not be able to meet the tolerances required by the project, precision metal stamping can solve challenging problems and machine a high quality final part.
Thanks to automation, this process can rapidly produce precise components, ultimately saving both time and money.
Precision Metal Stamping Applications
This versatile process serves a wide range of industries.
The automotive industry requires millions of complex parts per year. These components are designed for everything from electrical systems to vehicular frames. A particularly common application for precision metal stamped parts is terminals and electric connectors, which are typically a two-part socket and tab design that requires an immense amount of durability. Other common automotive applications include wire forms, brackets, and hangers.
Components built for use in the aerospace industry must meet stringent standards, as the safety of the public and employees depends on every part being durable, error-free, and crafted to incredibly precise tolerances. The aerospace industry will often utilize precision metal stamping to create parts such as brackets, bushings, shields, clips, and more.
Medical devices are vital in diagnosing, treating, and preventing illness. Components for these applications must be made of materials that can be easily sanitized and must have no contaminants or defects. Precision metal stamping is ideal for medical applications, including temperature probes, surgical devices, prosthetics, and more.
Complex precision components can help transmit energy safely to consumers. Common applications in the electronics industry include outlets, circuit breakers, and fuse boxes.
High quality stamped metal parts are vital to the proper long-term functioning of complex appliance systems. These include everyday household appliances such as stoves, ovens, and dishwashers, as well as items such as irrigation systems and HVAC units.
The renewable energy industry is growing incredibly quickly, and it requires specialized components to keep up with demand. Applications for precision metal stamped parts include solar panel wiring, aluminum frames, and inverter and controller enclosures.
As this process is so customizable, manufacturers turn to it for items that are complex or highly specialized, such as minuscule printer wheels.
Precision Metal Stamping Considerations
While this process has a plethora of advantages across a wide variety of industries, it is not the ideal choice for every project. When considering whether to use this process, there are several key factors to consider:
- Design Precision. To avoid costly errors, prototype designs for this process must be highly precise. Defects can impact the strength of the part both during production and when in use.
- Material Characteristics. Metals react differently from plastics when heated and compressed. It is important to understand the specific characteristics of the desired material to determine whether this process is a viable option.
- Order Volume. Precision metal stamping is typically the most beneficial and cost effective for high volume production. In low volume production the cost of a progressive die will often be prohibitive to the business case.
Precision Metal Stamping from the Experts at Keats Manufacturing
Precision metal stamping offers many benefits for a diverse range of industries. Since 1958, Keats Manufacturing has been providing our clients with unparalleled custom metal stamping services. Our expert team and commitment to customer satisfaction ensures high quality metal stamped parts that meet the needs of any application. To work with us on your next project, request a quote today.