Metal forming encompasses a wide range of operations — bending, cutting, drawing, stamping, and welding, to name a few — which can be performed individually or jointly to create more complex pieces and assemblies. When an engineer identifies which metal forming method to use, they have to look at the part’s requirements, restrictions and end use. The process is no different when selecting the metal materials used in the project.

metal material selection

From aluminum to copper to stainless steel, there are many material options for a metal forming project. While this broad range of options can make it challenging to determine which one is right for your needs, knowing what factors to consider when browsing the materials available can make the selection process easier.

If you need help choosing the right material for your metal forming or metal stamping project, the experts at ESI have you covered. We’ve put together the following guide that outlines some of the key factors to consider when selecting a material.

Key Material Selection Considerations for Metal Forming Projects

Some of the key considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right material for your metal forming project include:

Average Cost

The material you choose should suit both the application requirements of your product and the specifications of your production order while fitting within the budget of your project. For example, if you require a material that offers high weldability for a project with a strict budget, steel is an excellent option.

On the other hand, if you need a material for a project where high strength, low weight, and corrosion resistance are critical, and cost is not a concern, titanium may be a suitable option.

Bend Rating

The bend rating of a material is a measure of its formability based on its ability to bend without breaking or tearing. This factor influences how easy or hard it is to form it into different shapes.

metal bend rating key

ESI created a Bend Rating scale that designates materials with high formability as green and materials with low formability as red. Materials are marked accordingly from green to red (e.g., yellow-rated materials are less formable than green-rated materials but more formable than red-rated materials).


The intended product and its application significantly influence the type of material you should pick. For example, copper is ideal for components used in electrical or thermal applications due to its high thermal and electrical conductivity, while stainless steel is appropriate for components used in food and beverage applications due to its high corrosion resistance.

Recommended Finishes

brass metal plated partMaterials can be finished in numerous ways to accommodate different functional and aesthetic specifications. For example, stainless steel can be passivated or electropolished, while titanium can be anodized or hard-coated.

If you have a particular metal finish in mind, you should choose a material that can accommodate it. If you have a particular material in mind, you should choose a finish that fits your application requirements.

See also: Metal Finishing Selection Guide

Minimum Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is a measure of how much force a material can withstand without fracturing. This factor is important for materials used in components subjected to high forces. You should select a material that exhibits the tensile strength needed for the intended application.

Suitability for Different Forming Operations

Regarding the actual metal forming process, some of the material properties to take into account when choosing a material are weldability, machinability, ductility, and formability. These factors influence how easy or hard a material will be to turn into the desired part or product, which, in turn, can affect your project timeline and budget.

  • metal forming material selection guide– Weldability refers to the ease with which a material can be welded.
  • – Machinability refers to the ease with which a material can be cut using machine tools.
  • – Ductility refers to the pliability of a material; how easy or hard it is to draw into a wire.
  • – Formability refers to the bendability of a material; whether it can bend without snapping.

You should pick a material with properties that suit the operations needed to create your components.

Partner with the Experts at ESI for Your Metal Stamping Needs!

Need helping selecting the right material for your metal stamping project? Check out the resources on the ESI website! You can find all of the above information and more about various materials by downloading our material selection guides or checking out our online material selection tool.

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Download Material Selection Guides

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