progressive-die-stampingWhen manufacturing metal parts and components, some applications may use either sheet metal stamping or other metal fabrication processes. People often mistakenly use the terms “sheet metal stamping” and “metal fabrication” interchangeably, but they refer to a range of manufacturing processes with significant differences.

Sheet metal stamping is a form of metal fabrication, but there is a wide variety of metal fabrication processes available. To determine which is right for manufacturing your metal products, it’s important to know the differences between these processes.

What is Sheet Metal Stamping?

Sheet metal stamping is a fabrication process that uses dies, punches, and other tools to bend, cut, punch, flange, or otherwise shape the sheet metal into the end component. This method is a cost-effective option for large production runs and can be done in a single or multiphase process. Multiphase or progressive die stamping involves pulling a strip of metal through a tool, with each of the tooling stations performing different punches, cuts, or bends. As the part moves along the process, each station contributes to the work of the previous one, forming a completed product at the end of the run.


Advantages of metal stamping include:

  • — Lower cost per piece with larger runs
  • — Capable of complex designs
  • — Highly repeatable
  • — Secondary processing available

If you require parts manufactured in large numbers, you may benefit from sheet metal stamping over metal fabrication. However, you may want to consider metal fabrication for other applications, such as one-off products. Additionally, stamping costs may build due to tooling expenses and longer preparation periods. 

What is Metal Fabrication?

Metal fabrication is a broad manufacturing term referring to processes such as cutting, bending, and punching. It normally pertains to more labor-intensive practices with long production times. The process involves shaping metal into parts through the removal or change of materials. For instance, some metal fabrication processes may involve creating cutouts or holes in metal materials. Other processes may change the shape of the metal by stretching and bending it. 

Bend Relief

Advantages of metal fabrication include:

  • — Rapid prototyping
  • — Versatile fabrication techniques, including laser cutting and shearing
  • — Diverse customization options
  • — Quick and easy design adjustments

While sheet metal fabrication is ideal for many metal manufacturing applications, this process requires more labor and longer production periods compared to metal sheet stamping. In addition, the costs of materials tend to be higher than that of stamping, and it’s often not possible to fabricate parts and components that are more complex in their designs. 

Another potential disadvantage is the lack of repeatability, which makes metal fabrication less compatible with high-volume production runs. However, this process can provide a cost-effective and efficient solution for applications requiring the low-volume production of pieces with simpler designs.

Quality Metal Stamping Services from Engineering Specialties, Inc.

If you require reliable sheet metal stamping services, the professionals at ESI can meet your needs. For over three decades, we’ve worked to deliver some of the most dependable manufacturing services and engineering solutions using state-of-the-art automated systems. When getting started on any metal stamping project, we look closely at the use of each part, from production to completion. 


Our automation capabilities enable us to boost quality assurance and reduce labor. We’re also capable of manufacturing anywhere from a few thousand parts into the millions. Our skilled employees include Six Sigma Black Belt Trained QA personnel, which further increases quality across all of our products and services.

For more information about our capabilities and to get started on your next project with us, request a quote today.

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