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“Somebody just handed me a drawing…”

April 20th, 2012 | Posted by Jacque in Uncategorized

Are you a purchasing team member looking for the “right” source for that metal stamped part the engineer just handed to you?  You may have casually asked, “What project is this for?”

“Oh, that’s a metal stamping for the EFG project,” you may have been told.

If you are not experienced with  stampings, you may have taken the drawing back to your desk and puzzled over it.  Let’s start with some basics, and see where we end up, shall we?

There are several different processes used to make metal stamped component parts.  Each process is different in the types of metal used, the equipment utilized, and the volume of parts produced.

Let’s start with a situation where you need a fairly simple part, and you only need five prototypes for the engineering department to work with.  You’ll probably be looking for a fabricated part — formed by using a turret press and a press brake.  Say what?  OK,  the supplier will shear, or cut a piece of metal by using a turret press, and bend it to the form needed, on the press brake.  If he needs a little more precision on the cutting, he can utilize a laser; then he’ll take it over to the press brake for bending.  This prototype process is not as exact as other stamping methods, but it makes up for the difference in accuracy by having far less expensive tooling (or no tooling at all).

The next rung up the ladder is a part that requires stage tooling — tooling that is used for each stage in the process.  There may be one tool for blanking, or shearing a desired shape from a much larger piece of metal; another tool may form, or bend it; and yet another may pierce or notch the metal part.  If it is written in the specification, the finished part may be de-burred, or have the rough edges smoothed.  These custom stage tools may require more substantial tooling costs, but the cost of producing the parts may be lower, and offset that tooling cost. This process is useful for what stampers call “short” or “medium” production runs — low to medium volumes of parts.

The top rung of the ladder is the progressive die process of stamping metal parts. This is the process that has the highest tooling costs — but the piece prices are dramatically lower, so this is typically used for very high volume production.  In this process, the tooling is extremely precise; very close tolerances can be achieved.  Parts are blanked (cut out) and formed (bent) in a long strip — at each step through the die, another step of forming the part is completed. Finally at the end of the die, there is a final operation to remove the finished part from the strip of metal.

Another consideration for a stamped component is the material.  There is a wealth of possible materials: ferrous (containing iron), non-ferrous, even alloys of  exotic metals like titanium and magnesium.  Stampings can be made of carbon steel, stainless steel,  aluminum alloys, copper alloys; and the base metal can be plated with gold, palladium, nickel, and tin, to name a few.

Whew! I think we’ve established one thing — there are a lot of things to consider when metal stamped parts are required.  Choosing the appropriate supplier for your component parts will be just as crucial as selecting the material and the process.

To assure the success of your project, rely on TGB Inc to assist you by matching your project and specifications with just the right manufacturing partner!

 

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