It’s no secret that the automotive industry depends heavily on metal — especially once you look “under the hood,” where hundreds of smaller interior components are stamped and machined by manufacturers.
For example, did you know that automotive metal components must be stamped or cold formed to properly restrain a car’s air bags? Or that the inside of your steering wheel comprises an intricate working of stamped and assembled parts?
Automotive parts manufacturers stamp or cold form metal to produce fasteners, brackets and other components inside the seats, dashboard and steering wheel. These parts are used in all major areas of motor vehicles:
- Braking systems
- Steering & suspension
- Electrical systems
- Exhaust systems
Let’s take a look at the process metal stamping engineers work through to take these safety-critical parts from design to completion.
Step 1: Material Selection
Automotive part manufacturers primarily utilize steel for its strength and durability. Steel also offers a high strength-to-weight ratio, and is extremely recyclable — an important factor as more businesses focus on sustainability.
Substantial growth is predicted for the automotive metal market over the next 6 years, attributed partly to environmental regulations aiming to reduce vehicle emissions. As a result, more OEMs have been utilizing lightweight and cost-effective materials with the same strength requirements.
Metal material suppliers are also examining ways to produce advanced high-strength steel with a steel alloy that’s stronger, less costly and almost as lightweight as aluminum.
Step 2: Part Design and Manufacturing
The automotive industry often requires specially crafted components to withstand extreme temperatures and/or pressures. Take airbags, for example: this critical safety feature in cars can only function if the grommets and brackets are working properly. These reinforcing components prevent fabric tearing or abrasion during deployment.
Metal stamping’s versatility and repeatability ensures safety components like grommets and brackets are constructed properly, and with the same level of quality and functionality in every production run. Progressive stamping allows automotive manufacturers to stamp over a million airbag parts per year for a single OEM, without sacrificing quality in any of the components.
Step 3: Quality Assurance
Automotive OEMs and Tier 1 automotive suppliers perform rigorous inspections on all parts — especially those that are safety-critical — so manufacturers must ensure the highest level of quality. Stamped metal parts can cover a wide range of parts inside the vehicle, including:
- Airbag cover tether restraint — Comprised of two stamped eyelets crimped to the length of an aircraft cable, this critical safety component provides a secondary means of restraint for the airbag cover.
- Auto HVAC parts — A range of stamped clips and contacts are used in automotive HVAC systems.
- Wiper motor bracket — Stamped solenoid brackets serve as critical wiper motor components.
- Steering wheel — From brackets to complete horn switches, steering wheels rely on various stamped parts to ensure optimal safety and reliability.
In a car’s interior, you’ll also find various stamped and cold formed components:
- Cable crimp sleeve bracket — Cable crimp sleeve brackets are made for fastening cables to pillar sheet metal.
- Seat belt anchor nuts and bolts — These nuts and bolts anchor D-rings or seat belt pretensioners.
- Auto electronic fasteners — Either thread formed or conventionally threaded, these cold formed fasteners are often found in light metal and plastic housings.
- Head rest guide parts — Head rest guides make use of various stamped and formed springs and brackets to ensure smooth, easy adjusting.
Engineering Specialties stays ahead of industry trends like this to ensure we’re delivering the most advanced components to OEMs. With an IATF 16949:2016 certification and proprietary vision-based inspection equipment, we deliver a new level of engineering solutions and manufacturing services for the automotive industry.
Some of the most common interior automotive components made from stamped or formed metal can be found in Engineering Specialties, Inc.’s Automotive Parts Infographic. The infographic features an overhead view and side view of the car, with an interactive moving locator to show where each metal part is placed in the car.
In addition to serving the automotive sector, our team also works on metal stamping projects for a wide range of other industries, from military and medical to aerospace. We utilize both fourslide and progressive stamping methods, and can handle both high-volume and low-volume needs.
To learn more about the types of car parts that are manufactured through metal stamping techniques, take a look at our Automotive Parts Infographic today.