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Ask an Engineer: Metal Stamping Design

Tag Archive: metal stamping

  1. Ask an Engineer: Metal Stamping Design

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    Metal forming is a complex process that can include a number of tactics — blanking, punching, bending, and piercing, to name a few.

    mack-hodges-engineer

    When used effectively, these tactics allow manufacturers to produce high-quality and cost-effective metal components. However, a few factors play into this quality and efficiency, and each project varies in materials, design and complexity:

    • – How do you know whether your part’s design will work for the intended application?
    • – Will your material of choice withstand all the elements it needs to function?

    ESI brought in our Engineering Manager, Mack Hodges, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about the metal stamping process.

     

    Q: How do I keep costs low for a metal stamping project?

    A: Optimizing the cost of your metal stamping project involves careful consideration of three main factors: material selection, dimensional tolerances, and secondary or post-production processes.

    • Material

    Appropriate material selection is usually the first and most effective step to lowering costs. For a given application, consider whether an alternative metal with similar properties can be used. For example, when creating components for use in corrosive environments, another, more cost-effective metal with similar corrosion resistance could be considered.

    • Tolerances

    Achieving tight tolerances during manufacturing can be complex due to the sensitivity of the component’s dimensions. Tight tolerances often require additional tooling maintenance and downtime which adds to the part cost.  Revaluate your project and determine whether the tolerances need to be as tight as specified.

    • Secondary Processes

    Post-production processes – such as smoothing the edges of the stamped part – can also incur additional project costs. Vibratory deburring and edge grinding usually involve complex machinery and can be potentially expensive depending on the size of the component and its production volume. Evaluate whether less costly methods of edge smoothing, such as coining, can be used for your metal stamped part.

    Q. How long does it take to build custom tooling?

    A: In general, custom tool building can range anywhere from 10 to 20 weeks. Design and construction of custom tooling typically involve several steps—from 3D CAD/CAM engineering and design, to EDM machining. These processes are highly dependent on the size and complexity of the tool design, the total number of stamping operations needed to produce the part, and the overall production volume.

    Q. What are some common defects that happen during metal stamping?

    A: Defects typically occur when proper procedures and best stamping practices are not followed. Some of the most common metal stamping defects are:

    • Improper Edge-to-Hole Spacing and Bulges

    The clearance between the edge of a hole and the edge of the part should be at least twice the material thickness.

    edge-to-hole spacing

    E = 2T

    E = edge distance
    T = part thickness

    If the edge-to-hole distance is less than this recommended value, bulging at the outer edge of the material can occur.

    • Deformed Holes

    If a part is bent too close to a hole, this can cause the shape of the hole to distort and become deformed. For holes less than 2.5 mm (0.1 in), the distance between the outer edge of the hole and the outer edge of the bend should be at least twice the material thickness plus the bend radius:

    deformed holes metal stamping

    D = 2T + R

    D = distance between edge of hole and bend
    T = material thickness
    R = bend radius

    For holes greater than 2.5 mm (0.1 in), this distance should be at least 2.5 times the material thickness plus the bend radius:

    D = 2.5T + R

    • Burrs at Stamped Edges

    When metal is cut, the downward stress caused by the weight of the material causes the metal to fracture – or “shear off” – when the cut nears the end of the metal. This results in a fracture angle known as a stamping burr.

    burrs at stamped edges

    While burrs are usually not problematic, they can cause dimensional issues in applications with tight tolerances. Burrs can be addressed by secondary processes such as vibratory deburring, grinding, and coining.

    • Bending Cracks

    Some high-strength metals possess lower amounts of ductility and plasticity when compared to lower-strength metals such as mild steel. They are, therefore, more brittle by comparison, and are not as easily bent into shape.

    bending cracks - metal stamping

    This makes some high-strength alloys prone to cracking when bent in a direction that is perpendicular to the grain direction. It is therefore essential that high-strength materials be oriented in such a way that bends are done parallel to the direction of the grain.

    Q. How do I find a company with faster lead times?

    A: Lead time for the production of a custom component is usually related to a company’s manufacturing capabilities and work load. The advent of newer metal stamping equipment and technologies have allowed manufacturers to produce high-quality parts at a faster rate. For example, multi-out tooling allows multiple components to be stamped simultaneously.

    We hope that some of your most important questions were addressed in this article. Should you have any further questions, our engineering team is more than happy to answer them for you. Feel free to contact us with your questions, and we will be sure to get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can also download our comprehensive Metal Stamping Design Guide.

    Download free Metal Stamping Design tips

  2. The Advantages of Fourslide Metal Stamping over Traditional Power Press Stamping

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    The metal stamping process was significantly improved with the introduction of the fourslide metal stamping machine. Also known as multi-slide stamping, fourslide stamping can form metal coils into intricate shapes with multiple curves and bend radii greater than 90 degrees.

    A fourslide metal stamping machine is essentially a horizontal stamping press with tools controlled by a series of cams. Unlike regular power press functions, which stamp the metal in a vertical motion, multi-sliding uses a combination of laterally moving slides.

    The slides are driven by four shafts connected by a series of bevel gears. One shaft is powered by an electronic motor which, in turn, drives the shafts of the other slides. Each slide is equipped with a tool that strikes the workpiece from four orthogonal horizontal directions to form the final product. This arrangement allows the workpiece to be worked on four sides with precision and repeatable accuracy.

    Benefits of Fourslide Metal Stamping

    fourslide-stamping

    Fourslide metal stamping performs several operations almost simultaneously, enabling them to form the workpiece start to finish. As a result, for certain parts, the process requires less handling, fewer machines, and fewer secondary operations.

    In some instances fourslide metal stamping can greatly reduces the amount of material wastage when compared to methods that rely on dies. In progressive stamping, material is needed on either side of the strip for the die to punch through the metal sheet. With fourslide methods, however, the material can be purchased at a specified width, resulting in less working material and greater cost efficiency.

    Furthermore, the fourslide action of the stamping machine is repeatedly done at high speeds, making it capable of producing large quantities of identical products (30-250 parts per minute) of uniform quality within a short time period.

    Fourslide Metal Stamping vs. Traditional Power Press Stamping

    In addition to the benefits outlined above, fourslide metal stamping can offer several other advantages over power press stamping that make it an ideal choice for many applications. Some of these advantages include:

    Versatility – Conventional power press stamping is only capable of pressing sheet metal in a single vertical direction, which can limit the types of shapes that can be formed. Sharp bends, in particular, cannot be achieved by power presses without using additional costly mechanisms. On the other hand, fourslide metal stamping machines can manipulate the workpiece from 4 axes.

    This added versatility means that multi-sliding can easily handle bends greater than 90 degrees. Some of the components commonly produced using fourslide metal stamping include flat springs, spring clips, brackets, connectors, friction plates, and collars. Round parts are particularly efficient by fourslide stamping.

    Lead Time – Design and post-production processes can sometimes slow down production timelines. Fourslide metal stamping machines, however, require simpler tooling and less intensive after-production adjustments, streamlining the final stages of manufacturing.

    Design Modifications – In today’s fast-paced market, changes are inevitable. Traditional power presses sometimes have less flexibility regarding design modifications. For changes to take effect, an entirely new die may need to be constructed, which can result in increased production time and additional costs. In contrast, changes in fourslide metal stamping machines can be made by making relatively simple adjustments to each sliding tool individually.

    Fourslide metal stamping is quickly becoming the preferred manufacturing method for metal components in a variety of sectors including the automotive, medical, and aerospace, industries. If you’d like to find out more about how our fourslide metal stamping process can meet your unique specifications, request a quote from us today to see our competitive pricing.


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  3. The Benefits of In-House Tool and Die Design

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    Are you getting started on a stamped metal part project with your OEM? If so, you’ll likely be looking for vendors who can form your part quickly, accurately, and at a cost that meets your budget.

    But before you even start your search, consider how the tool and die design process will affect your end result.

    There’s a lot involved in the tool and die design and manufacturing process: here are the steps to keep in mind to ensure you receive a high-quality, reliable part at the best possible cost.

    Die Quoting

    Quoting the price of a die’s design and build can be tricky, since dies are usually one of a kind. To provide an accurate estimate, companies should have a solid understanding of sheet metal processing techniques and the intricacies of the design and building process. Make sure that your supplier uses the latest sophisticated die design software tools incorporating 3D CAD.

    Many factors can influence tooling cost, including:

    • Type of tool needed
    • Delivery deadline
    • Volume the die must produce
    • Contract payment terms
    • The shop’s location, capacity, and niche.

    Once the customer approves the quote, work on design and build can begin.

    Stock Strip Design

    The first step in a stamped part’s production involves designing the progressive die, or “tool.” The designer is responsible for optimizing the position of each punch, bend, and hole in the blank strip. Computer-aided design (CAD) techniques are used to design the strip and determine key characteristics such as dimensions, tolerances, feed direction, and scrap minimization.

    Tool Production

    Once the stock strip is complete and approved the die design can begin.  This includes detailing each and every component in the tool.  At this point, all the tool materials can be ordered.  Die blocks are machined, ground and EDM cut using the final 3D CAD.

    This is where working with a single, full-service tool designer/manufacturer can come in very handy, as delays and quality issues are avoided when all needed processes are kept in-house. Plus, in-house tool and die design is extremely cost-efficient for getting parts to production. Not only will you save money, you’ll save time, too.

    Learn More

    Curious to see how a part is made in a “one-stop shop” like ESICheck out our video story today detailing the specifics of how a Ford part was manufactured in our ESI facility — from design, all the way to delivery.

    View Our Video Story

  4. Manufacturing of the Future: ESI Speeds Up Production With 3 New Machines

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    There has been a lot of speculation lately about the future of manufacturing. What will be the top trends? How will manufacturing’s contribution to the GDP change? How will jobs shift as technology becomes “smarter”?

    It’s difficult to definitively answer these questions. But one thing is for sure: the manufacturing renaissance is here, and it is sweeping the industry. Technologies like 3D printing have been commercialized, and equipment embedded with sensors can now “communicate” with each other using the Internet of Things (IoT).

    The availability of data for strategic planning, the rise automated machines, and a slew of other exciting advances are allowing manufacturers to produce units faster, smarter, and leaner than ever before.

    At Engineering Specialities Inc., (ESI), unmatched production efficiency isn’t a luxury; it’s how we do business. Recently, we added three new top-of-the-line machines to speed up production times, allowing us to get solutions to our clients faster and more efficiently than ever.

    Wire Straightening Machine: Producing Defect-Free Items, Faster

    Commitment to quality is of paramount importance in any manufacturing endeavor. But deadlines must be adhered to as well. ESI’s team helps customers contend with difficult turnaround times and urgent needs. In a bid to expedite part production even further, we have added a fully enclosed and integrated wire straightening and cutting machine to our equipment line-up.

    This machine takes round or shaped wire off a coil, straightens the wire to eliminate irregularities such as bends, and cuts it to the precisely desired length for inherently defect-free items — all in one go for better quality at a faster turnaround.

    Automated Packaging Machine: Reducing Time to Ship by a Quarter

    ESI is proud to offer end-to-end manufacturing solutions that include quality assurance, inspection, and assembly services. Proper packaging is a key component in this sequence, and manual execution is no longer efficient or effective.

    This is why we have switched over to a sophisticated automated packaging system that does the work of 20 hours in just five.

    This new packaging machine first unfolds the boxes, then loads the parts, weighs them, and packages them according to their weight. Finally, the boxes are wrapped with a pallet wrapping machine, allowing us to deliver products faster and at lower prices.

    New Metal Stamping Press: A Single Tool for Many Industries

    We’ve also introduced a 45-ton stamping press that is versatile enough to serve the progressive die stamping needs of a whole slew of industries and applications, including automotive, aerospace, medical, lighting, specialty plumbing, industrial hardware locks, and electrical connectors.

    With this new stamping press, we can now further streamline our production and speed up the time required to manufacture complicated parts.

    With 25 different presses and over 60,000 square feet of combined manufacturing space, we remain committed to constant improvement and innovation in all aspects of our work.

    Learn More

    These exciting new equipment additions are just the beginning. We believe in constantly adding to our skills and our equipment in order to best serve demanding industries, like the medical sector, with reliable custom parts — such as this high-quality spring and electronics shield we produced for vital monitoring equipment. Without the advanced manufacturing technology and the expertise needed to cut multiple part blanks at the same time, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver such a competitive budget or fast deadline for this order.

    To view more past work and further explore ESI’s capabilities, check out our gallery.

    View Our Gallery

    You can also request a custom quote to discuss options for your specific needs.

  5. Inside ESI: How Our Manufacturing Equipment Works

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    Committed to continual improvement, the team at ESI is constantly on the lookout for new equipment and processes that will ensure the highest-quality, fastest production — especially for the largest runs.

    ESI MachinesTo accomplish this, we’ve even custom-built a few machines of our own.

    You may have heard about our latest venture in 3D printing to expand our metal stamping capabilities and better serve our diverse clients. But this isn’t the only valuable investment we’ve made over the years.

    Below, we explore the state-of-the-art machines that have helped us solve our customers’ toughest challenges.

    State-of-the-Art Manufacturing Equipment

    • Swiss-Made Wire Electrical Discharge Machine (EDM)

    swiss-made-high-speed-EDMAdded in March of this year, the AgieCharmilles CUT 300 mS specializes in high-speed wire EDM cutting and boasts cutting tolerances of ±2 µm and surface qualities as fine as Ra 0.1 µm.

    In addition to its high precision and fine surface finishes, it also provides significant time and cost savings. What does all this mean? Higher-quality products, faster turnaround times, and lower costs for our customers.

    Read more about how our EDM machine saved a customer money while allowing for design flexibility.

    • 150-Ton Stamping Press

    Progressive die stamping provides a cost-effective way to produce metal components with complex geometries at extremely high speeds while ensuring high reliability and minimal scrap. With a bed size of 48 in. x 60 in., our 150-ton press can stamp a variety of formed and flat parts.

    Discover how our 150-ton stamping press saved one client 80% of their part order and cut their lead time from 10 weeks to four.

    • Custom Vision Inspection Machine

    laser-sensor-inspectionTo ensure reliable quality, ESI designed a proprietary vision inspection machine that can inspect parts based on dozens of criteria — in milliseconds.

    A laser sensor triggers a camera, which captures an image of the part as it drops through a window in the machine. These quality inspections are faster and more accurate than human inspection and allow us to deliver millions of parts at a quicker turnaround, with zero defects.

    To get an inside look at how this groundbreaking technology works, download our eBook, “High Volumes, Zero Defects: How It Works” or see it in action here.

    • Automated Assembly

    In addition to our metal stamping capabilities for complex parts, we also offer assembly services. Through our automated assembly and inspection services, we can increase production rates while reducing your costs and turnaround times.

    See for yourself how we were able to increase productivity and decrease defect rates for one of our recent customers.

    • Automated Packaging Line

    As an extension of our automated assembly services, ESI’s automated packaging line weighs and counts bulk parts to precisely fill cartons, allowing for speedy and accurate packaging before delivery.

    automated-packaging-line

    About ESI Precision Metal Stamping

    Here at ESI, we pride ourselves on our precision metal stamping expertise and one-on-one personal service. With a variety of high-quality metal stamping machines, we can work on projects of any size, for any industry — from aerospace and medical to military and automotive.

    We invite you to visit our cutting-edge facilities in North Branford, Conn., where we have 57,000 square feet of manufacturing space. To see our equipment in action. Contact us today to schedule your visit.


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  6. Watch a 3D Printer Create an Inspection Fixture

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    In a relatively short amount of time, 3D printing has had quite an impact on the manufacturing sector.

    As 3D printing becomes more prominent in the public sphere, it opens up a world of opportunities for manufacturers. 3D printing technology is “additive,” meaning manufacturers can use the minimum material needed to fabricate the part — delivering less waste and more material cost savings.

    Today, 3D printing in manufacturing is used for multiple applications. In an effort to deliver error-free metal stamping projects, ESI uses 3D printing in an unexpected way — we 3D print quality inspection fixtures.  By 3D printing these fixtures for each custom designed part, we can accelerate the inspection process and deliver quicker turnaround. Here’s how it works.

    Step 1: 3D Print the Fixture

    Quality inspection fixtures are specially designed by ESI engineers to hold stamped metal parts in place during the quality inspection processes. Using 3D CAD drawings, we design a unique inspection fixture for every stamped metal part we produce.

    The fixtures — designed to hold stamped parts in place without impeding the quality assurance process, and for easy loading and unloading — are 3D-printed using ABS plastic on a weekly basis.

    Depending on the size and complexity of the fixture, the 3D printing process takes about 3 hours to complete. Magnets can also be easily incorporated onto the fixtures for optimal adherence to the inspection machine.

    Step 2: Inspect the Part

    We inspect large volumes of our parts with a coordinate measuring machine (CMM), as seen in the video above, which also shows how our 3D printed fixtures really prove their value.

    The Benefits of 3D

    Without a 3D printer to create custom inspection fixtures, manufacturers must either:

    1. Outsource their fixtures or
    2. Use other means, such as clamps, to hold parts to CMM beds.
    3. CNC Machine their fixtures

    Outsourcing inspection fixtures can add unnecessary time and cost investments to a project. Affixing parts to CMM beds with clamps takes time, negatively impacting the number of pieces that can be inspected, and can potentially damage the parts. And, CNC machining is costly and time consuming.

    With custom designed and 3D printed inspection fixtures, setting up a piece is quick and efficient, allowing for a greater volume of inspection and, therefore, lower defect rates.

    To view the array of varying parts that we have 3D printed inspection fixtures for, visit our Sample Gallery today.

  7. Browse Metal Stamping Projects for the Aerospace, Medical, and Automotive Industries

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    Metal stamping is used in a variety of applications across industries because of the process’s high-volume production capabilities.

    stamped-componentsWhen you apply metal stamping with assembly and machining, you can also save significant overall costs and lead time for your finished component.

    ESI understands the importance of a finished part once it’s sent off for industry use. That’s why we use an assortment of stamping, tooling, and production techniques in order to match the unique needs of each industry and customer.

    To showcase the diversity of our past work, we have compiled a new sample gallery of completed metal stamping projects across a variety of industries.

    The Aerospace Industry

    air-restrictor-smallWe utilized out-of-the-box problem solving to make an aluminum air restrictor under extremely tight tolerances (0.0005” in diameter and location) for an aerospace manufacturer.

    One of our most creative engineers developed a unique method of drilling tiny holes without breaking any drill bits, resulting in high quality, cost-effective parts manufactured in less than a third of the time of our original delivery estimate.

    The Medical Industry

    CAS-med-4In a recent metal stamping project for the medical industry, ESI was asked to customize an electronics shield for vital sign monitoring equipment.

    After beginning to prototype the component, we tweaked the design to create a hard stainless steel box with dovetail closures to maintain the shield’s spring-like qualities. This simple adjustment allowed for greater design flexibility and ultimately saved the customer money on production costs.

    The Automotive Industry

    knee-airbag-grommet-automotiveESI’s custom stamped parts have a hand in many critical automotive safety features that drivers never even see.

    The knee airbag grommet, which we manufacture in quantities greater than 1,000,000 annually, was a part with such unique geometry and exceptional strength requirements that it could not be conventionally stamped. Our team developed a customized, 24 station progressive tool that would stamp the piece to perfection with every draw.

    Visit the Full Gallery

    These stories are just a few recent examples of our diverse metal stamping portfolio. To view all of the specs, photos, and additional information about our production machining projects, we invite you to browse our Sample Gallery.

    View Our Sample Gallery

  8. Is Your Metal Stamping Supplier Using the Latest Automated Technologies?

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    The business world runs on technology — it always has, and it always will.

    Companies in the medical, aerospace and automotive markets work with state-of-the-art technology every day, and their business rely on high standards with no room for error. Thus, they look for manufacturers who also utilize state-of-the-art technology to produce high quality parts.

    Advanced vision systems, for example, are able to inspect dozens of different part characteristics in milliseconds. Manufacturers with this technology, such as ESI, can deliver millions of parts with virtually zero defects — promising flawless quality with quick turnaround.

    Below are four videos taken in our facility, each of which highlights a different aspect of our detailed production process.

    Metal Stamping & Assembly

    Where some component companies focus solely on producing a single part, ESI is capable of providing a full suite of automated assembly capabilities, reducing costs and production time. To better serve a variety of applications, we utilize both progressive stamping and fourslide stamping techniques.

    Sophisticated Assembly for Complex Products

    We’ve provided quality metal stamping production for more than two decades. We built application-specific automated assembly technologies that incorporate precision vision inspection on every single part. ESI deals with many different volumes and material types, so we’re confident in our ability to handle any and all client requests.

    Production Machining

    While you can expect to experience cost savings when you partner with ESI, you will never encounter a drop in product quality. Our advanced equipment ensures the high quality production machining of even the most exacting parts, and our knowledgeable team has the experience needed to seamlessly execute projects to your company’s liking.


    Automated Assembly + Advanced Inspection

    Our advanced machine vision systems use imaging software to inspect multiple parts at the same time, guaranteeing that customers receive their parts to print on time, every time. These machines have allowed ESI to manufacture projects greater than 100 million parts, without a single part per million defect.

    If your current supplier is not employing the latest technology to produce your parts, contact ESI to learn more about what we have to offer.

    Want more information about how ESI has virtually eliminated high-volume metal stamping defects? Access our latest eBook, 3 Solutions to Eliminate High-Volume Metal Stamping Defects.


    "Eliminate

  9. 3 Ways to Address High-Volume Metal Stamping Defects

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    A common need in today’s business and manufacturing world is the production of large quantities of complex parts – with quick and accurate results.

    Finding a cost-effective metal stamper that can meet the required time frame also isn’t easy. There are a few challenges that can slow production time or quality.

    Combatting Defect Rates

    prevent-metal-stamping-defectsDefect rates are one of the most common challenges that come with high-volume runs. These types of runs can incorporate numbers as large as millions or even hundred-millions. With this many parts, inspection of each piece becomes quite challenging.

    ESI’s team created a solution for the high-volume inspection process to help prevent potentially defective parts from reaching the customer.

    Our solution involves using multi-part fixturing that allows multiple parts to be inspected simultaneously. This special inspection method involves coordinate measuring machines, or CMMs, which use a probe to do a tactile inspection of each part, coupled with machine vision systems inspecting parts using imaging software.

    ESI’s multi-part fixtures allow us to measure and compare hundreds of part dimensions in only a few minutes. Not only is the process time-sensitive, it also guarantees quality and fidelity of the parts we manufacture at any size run. This ensures that no defective parts are sent out to valued customers by maintaining quality assurance across all orders.

    Other Challenges

    3-solutions-metal-stampingThe multi-part fixture is simply one solution to various problems associated with metal stamping high-volume runs. Our latest eBook addresses two other challenges commonly faced with such runs, such as when a process does not output the part as it was designed, and when a high-volume production wears down tools, resulting in eventual delays.

    To learn more about potential challenges in high-volume runs of metal stamping, as well as further solutions to these issues, download our free eBook, 3 Solutions to High-Volume Metal Stamping Defects.

    Click here to access the eBook or select the button below.


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