Metal stamping is a metal forming process in which flat stock sheet metal or metal coils are precisely shaped into metal parts in a stamping press, or stamp press. Many different sheet metal forming processes fall under the metal stamp manufacturing umbrella. These include: punching, blanking, embossing, forging, bending, coining, and flanging, among others.
Manufacturers engage in metal stamp processes because they produce large volumes of products and parts with uniform precision at high speeds and low cost.
Industries in which metal stamping is particularly advantageous include: automotive, aerospace, military and defense, healthcare, electronics, and research and development.
Of all of these, the automotive industry is the largest customer of metal stamp processes. In fact, in 2014, the automotive stamping industry was valued at over $31 billion. The forecast for the industry shows strong growth at a global level due to disposable income levels rising, which is anticipated to aid the market.
After automobile applications, consumer electronics is where metal stamping is used the most. The segment is forecasted to go through significant growth; a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4% is expected by 2022. The demand for consumer electronics is strong throughout the world, which will aid the market growth over the forecast period.
In addition, the research and development industry is witnessing research and development investments that are improving metal stamping processes. High efficiency metal stamping machines, such as hybrid electromagnetically assisted stamping machines, are available and cut operational costs, as well as reducing failures, like wrinkling and tearing. These technological advancements are critical for industry development and growth.
Metal Stampings – Micro Forms, Inc.
Metal Stampings – Micro Forms, Inc.
Metal Stampings - Micro Forms, Inc.
Metal Stampings - Micro Forms, Inc.
Metal stamping processes produces shapes that can be worked into countless products.
For example, copper and brass stamp shapes are commonly fabricated into household fixtures, plumbing accessories or jewelry. In addition, many instruments, from eyelets to gauges, in airplane can only be made with precision brass stampings. Sheet metal stampings and steel stampings are fabricated into a number of larger, three-dimensional parts such as automotive stampings. Next, deep drawn metal stampings, which are deep three-dimensional parts, are made into products such as pots and pans.
Other products made from metal stamping processes include: electronic stampings, medical stampings, metal clips, spring clips, lasers, metal brackets, external panels (bonnets, fenders, deck lids, doors, side panels, and roofs), internal parts (bonnet interiors, mating panels, door interiors or deck lid interiors), dimensionally critical panels, navigation systems, landing gears, and intricate engine parts. Also, almost everything used in the modern military warfare depends on precision metal stamping technology, including helicopters, assault weapons, radio systems, and many other defense equipment and machines.
There are not many metal processes that have changed the face of manufacturing the way metal stamping has. In the 20th century, metal stamping design found its major application. However, it has roots in the time when we, as a human race, were exploring different ways to mold metal after figuring out how metal can be extracted from ores.
One of the earliest human attempts at metal stamping was coin striking. Most archaeologists agree that the first coins were struck in the 7th century BC by a group of people living in what is now Turkey, called the Lydians. To create coins, the Lydians created a die with an image to go on one side of the coin, and a stamp with an image to go on the other side. Then, they set metal (typically gold or a gold alloy) on the die, placed the stamp on top of it, and struck the whole assembly with a heavy hammer.
This stamping method remained fairly constant throughout the centuries, until around 1550, when a German silversmith, Marx Schwab, invented a press to mold metal into coin using a die. His screw press, which could be turned by up to twelve men at a time, spawned modern day precision metal stamping.
Metal stamping became truly popular and viable with during the Industrial Revolution, when manufacturers started making bicycle parts with this technique. It changed the landscape of manufacturing; the process was much faster and cost effective. Soon, Henry Ford, inventor of assembly line, embraced the technology and the era of affordable cars started with the Model T.
In present day manufacturing, metal stamping is applied in a wide range of products, from spring clips, metal clips, roll forming to metal etching. Learn a little bit more about current and future market trends below.
Metal Stamping Industry Trends
Even after the recent decline in manufacturing, the U.S. emerged as the largest market for metal stamping in 2015; the revenue exceeded $35 billion. A large share was attributed to the conventional automotive industry and newly emerging private aerospace industry.
According to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc., the global metal stamping market could exceed $180 billion by 2022, fueled by the metal stamping requirement in infrastructure and other emerging industries' needs. The growth will particularly be in emerging economies.
Insights into Technological Development
In the metal stamping industry, the major processes are embossing, blanking, bending, four slide stampings flanging and coining.
The industry at the global level is dominated by blanking, which is closely followed by embossing and bending.
- Blanking process- The blanking process individually is valued around $30 billion. This process is anticipated to go through even more significant growth, mainly fueled by the demand growth in the aerospace and automotive industries.
- Embossing process- The embossing process accounts for over 21% of total metal stamping. The embossing growth is projected to be aided by the rapid industrialization in China, India, and Brazil.
- Bending process- The bending process is expected to follow the growth pattern due to the high demand in end-use industries. This metal process offers many operational advantages including, tolerance to metal thickness variations, easy adjustability, and tonnage requirement for bending.
Materials most commonly used in the metal stamping process include steel, aluminum, zinc, nickel, titanium, brass, copper and a number of alloys, such as beryllium copper.
This material is known to make products with high tensile strength, high yield strength, good corrosion resistance, good thermal conductivity, and overall durability. You can purchase stainless steel in bulk from the suppliers on IQS Directory.
Aluminum is lightweight, corrosion resistant, nonmagnetic, electrically and thermally conductive, malleable, and soft. You can find many different types of aluminum alloys here.
On its own, zinc tends to be brittle and hard to work with. However, it makes a great alloy element. In alloys, it boosts corrosion resistance and galvanization resistance abilities.
Nickel is most well-known for its corrosion resistance. However, it has other favorable characteristics as well, such as ductility and magnetism. It is also an important component of alloys such as brass.
Titanium is an extremely strong and lightweight metal element, with an excellent strength-to-density ratio. It is also highly resistant to corrosion, and can be alloyed with other metals in order to create metal stamp products for aerospace, medical, and military purposes, among others.
The alloy brass is primarily made up of copper and zinc. It’s mostly used when manufacturers want to create decorative metal stampings. While it can be made more corrosion resistant with aluminum, it is not the best metal for heavy duty industrial or outdoor applications.
Copper is soft, malleable, and formable. It can be used to make excellent alloys, such as brass and beryllium copper. As a stamp metal, it offers thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity.
This alloy is ductile, weldable, and machinable. It is resistant to non-oxidizing acids like hydrochloric acid, galling, abrasive wear, and plastic decomposition products. In addition, manufacturers can heat treat it for increased strength, durability, and electrical conductivity. Of all the copper-based alloys, beryllium copper is the strongest.
In metal stamping, manufacturers press a flat sheet of metal into various shapes, based on the stamp die they use.
1. During press operation, the slide, or ram, maintains movement to and from a motionless table called a press bed. The stamp die (or die stamp), a press tool consisting of a specially designed cavity, shapes metal parts from the inserted sheet metal. The upper component of the die connects to the press slide, and the lower component connects to the press bed.
2. A die component called the punch, or punch press, performs the necessary shaping operation by pushing the sheet metal through the die. The punch part of the process can be single stage or multistage, depending on the requirement. In single stage operation, every stroke of the press results into a desired metallic form. In multi stage, using progressive stamping, the metal sheet is pressed at various angles to give the final shape.
3. After the metal stampings are formed, they are typically subjected to one or more secondary processes, such as plating, cleaning, heat treating, or deburring.
Plating increases the corrosion resistance, solderability and wearability of the part. The most common plating materials include gold, palladium, nickel and tin; metal can be pre-plated to avoid this secondary process.
Cleaning removes oils and films from the metal stampings. This type of cleaning is also called degreasing.
Heat treating processes increase the strength of the product. The part is stamped in the soft state before it is hardened by heat treating in order to circumvent its tendency to crack when formed or coined.
Sharp corners are removed by the deburring process, which can be done by either abrasives or chemicals.
When putting together a metal stamping process, manufacturers consider several design aspects. These include: desired shape and size, desired material thickness, required tolerances, standard requirements, and property preferences (hardness, corrosion resistance, etc.)
Many companies, before constructing their metal stampings, use stamping simulation as part of their preliminary processes.
Stamping simulation technology works by calculating the process of a specific sheet metal stamping project and predicting defects that may be likely to occur, such as wrinkles, splits, material thinning, and springback. This state-of-the-art technology simulates the sheet metal part form process in the virtual environment of a PC, and allows tool and die makers to see the likelihood of success for a particular sheet metal part without the expense of making an actual tool. Tool makers use the results to quickly compare alternative designs and enhance their part, all of which contribute to overall lower manufacturing cost.
After stamping simulation, to get the shape they want, manufacturers carefully create a metal mold, or die, with its exact dimensions and bends. Dies can be used over and over again. If the stamping needs certain properties that it doesn’t already have after the initial machining, manufacturers can choose any number of secondary processes. For example, if a part needs to be more corrosion resistant, manufacturers can plate it after they’ve stamped it.
A stamping press activates metal forming with force, speed and precision. This type of stamp tool can be designed to work as both/either a mechanical and a hydraulic press. (Mechanical presses produce energy in the flywheel, which is then transferred to the crankshaft, electric shaft or eccentric gear) Both types are available for customization in a wide variety of sizes, ton capacities, stroke lengths and operating speeds.
Gap frames are a type of mechanical press often utilized in applications where the stock metal form is fed by hand. Straight frames are ideal for progressive die and transfer die forming applications.
In hydraulic presses, a controlled force is actuated by hydraulic pressure, which is used to move one or more rams in a preset sequence. Hydraulic presses, which have a variety of types of frames, including C-frames, straight sides, H-frames and four-column, have the ability to deliver full power at any point in the stroke. These presses are ideal for deep draw projects, short runs, precision metal stampings, lower-speed high-ton blanking with long feed lengths and work requiring repeatable pressure rather than repeatable depth of stroke.
Progressive presses have multiple stations which stamp different attributes into parts as a metal coil moves through the press; parts are cut and separated on the final step.
Similarly, transfer presses have multiple stations for the completion of a part, but parts are separate sheet metal pieces rather than parts along a continuous coil.
Fourslide presses have four moving slides which allow the automated press to manipulate parts along both axis, completing multiple aspects of stamping, cutting and shaping on parts at one processing stage.
Variations and Similar Processes
In this processing method, a metal plate is molded into the desired shape by applying pressure or squeezing metal in a die. It eliminates other secondary machining operations. Traditional stamping results in high wear and tear of a die, whereas modern squeezing technique is cost effective, producing vertical, smooth, accurate sides with no tear.
In a stamping operation, pinch trimming is used to cut the vertical walls of stretched or drawn vessel. To cut the metal, it is pinched between two hardened tool die sections. The product has no shearing or fracturing; deep-drawn cans are normally pinch trimmed.
Bending is the metal processing operation in which the metal is reformed or deformed along a straight axis. There are several types of bending methods, including V bending and wipe bending. Wipe bending is one of the most common methods to make metal clips; however, it is not suited for high-strength metals or parts that require precision bending. V bending is used for obtaining a given v angle and requires less force to bend in comparison to conventional wipe bending.
Also known as crushing, this metal stamping process shapes metal using the compressive forces of a powered hammer or a die. It is one of the oldest ways of shaping metal, used for millenniums. A product constructed with forging is stronger than one made with casting or machining. It is classified based on the temperature the metal is processed; it either can be cold, warm, or hot. So, for example, in this case, a forging process that uses heat is known as a hot stamp process.
Metal stamping processes can also be classified into three methods based on the dies: line dies, transfer dies, and progressive dies.
Line Die Method
This manufacturer process is used to make large parts that typically cannot be manufactured efficiently in one press. In this method, tools are typically loaded by hand or robotics. Hand-loaded line dies are commonly used for low-production parts and for those parts, which are too bulky to handle with automated system.
- They relatively cost less than complicated dies
- Its operation is simple, which allows the part to be handled or rotated at various axes.
- Complex geometries can be created with this method
Transfer Die Method
In this method, uniquely designed line dies are assembled together in a predetermined structure in a single press. Unlike with conventional line dies, the traveling rails assist the movements of metal parts. The rails are mounted in the press boundaries. During a press cycle, each rail moves inward to grab the metal part with specialized finger-like structure, which transfers metal parts to the next die.
- With this method, large parts are handled rapidly
- Based on the requirement, stamped parts can be rotated, if necessary, during the transfer process
- Can be programmed to accommodate a large variety of parts for different press speeds and stroke lengths
Also known as progressive stampings, this is the fastest method to produce metal parts. In this method, progressive dies tie the metal parts together by a strip carrier, which is actually a portion of the original strip. Unlike transfer or line dies method, a single common die set mounts necessary stations, which are sequenced and timed to feed the metal part.
- A great volume of parts can be produced rapidly
- They can run without assistance if necessary
- Only one press is required for whole operation
These are the most common production methods used for metal processes. Choose one carefully by considering factors like labor rates, the required volume of parts, and existing equipment.
Metal stamping services are cost-effective because the process is able to produce material-intensive parts at production rates that are much greater than what is possible using other traditional methods. Because the process is so fast and accurate, its well-suited for higher-volumes; as the production level increases, the labor costs and the per piece set-up drop.
Many parts made through other metal forming processes, such as casting, die casting, forging, machining or fabricating, could just as easily be designed for stamping. Metal stamping dies have a lower tooling cost than many others, such as molds, forging and casting dies and expendable cutting tools.
Both standard and complex custom metal stamp parts are stamped with precision (including precision tolerances) and high repeatability. Precision stamping offers benefits such as material flow, drawing, tight tolerances, and repeatability that are not possible with other metal fabrication techniques. These benefits become more evident in heavier parts.
Metal stamping brings a level of quality, accuracy, function, wear life and appearance to parts that they would not have otherwise. Also, metal stamping allows parts to be made of tougher and harder material than other processes allow, including such materials as stainless steel, nickel, cold rolled steel, aluminum, brass, bronze and galvanized steel.
Fewer Secondary Processes
One stamp machine is capable of performing all of the tasks required in advanced stamping. The stamping complements simulation software, so prototype designs can be run on them to prove the concept before investing in dedicated tooling. Because of these advantages, the necessity for secondary processes can be reduced or eliminated altogether. This speeds things up and drops costs even lower.
Metal stamping presses and fourslide presses are capable of producing two-dimensional and three-dimensional parts, with simultaneous or continuous stamping, pressing, cutting and forming. To make complex shapes, you can incorporate secondary operations within the same press and die system. Many value-added operations can be added if required, like nut insertion or automatic stud, in-die welding and assembly, and in-die tapping.
In addition, if necessary, the stamping process can be made highly automated. Such versatility makes it the method of choice for many.
As a smaller amount of material is required per piece, when you use sheet metal stamping, you help save raw material. Also, metal stamping produces less scrap in manufacturing, making disposal easy.
Things to Consider
For the best metal stamping experience, you need the right manufacturer. There are so many out there, though, how do you know when you’ve found “the one”? Simple: the right manufacturer is the one that suits your needs. This manufacturer will be willing and able to deliver you high quality metal stamping work within a reasonable lead time and inside your budget. They won’t cut corners for a profit; rather, they’ll bend over backwards to see you satisfied.
Of course, it’s also important that your manufacturer be knowledgeable, experienced, and near enough that they can ship to you. Find a manufacturer that has all the qualities and know-how that you’re looking for by perusing those we’ve listed near the top of this page. All of those with whom we partner are proven quality stamp service providers who are willing to work hard for their customers.
Metal Stamping Terms
Alloy – A compound consisting of more than one
metal or the combination of a metal and a nonmetal. The resulting compound
consists of properties different from those of the metal stampings components.
Annealing – The metal stampings procedure whereby a metal is
softened through heating and cooling treatments.
Base Metals – Common metal stampings consisting of inexpensive
metals, such as aluminum, zinc, lead, nickel and tin, that are easily
Blankholder – A metal stampings mechanism that ensures that
the blank does not move during the drawing process.
Blanking – The process of punching, cutting or shearing predetermined
shapes out of metal stampings stock.
Bottoming Stamp – A metal stamp or weld mark that signifies
that the form die stampings are on the bottom.
Brazing – Metal stampings that join two metals by filling the
space between the metals with a nonferrous metal, the melting point
of which remains lower than the two metals joined together.
Burrs – Jagged edges or protuberances on the surface of metal
stampings created by metal stampers during metal stamping, die stampings
or other industrial applications.
Cam – A mechanism that moves or works at an angle to the metal
stampings press stroke.
– A four-post, single slide press.
– A stamping die that performs multiple stamping
operations, such as blanking, piercing and forming, in one press stroke.
Crank Press – A mechanical press whose slides are activated
by a crankshaft.
Cup – A cylindrical sheet metal part or shell that is closed
on one end. Cups are the product of the first step in deep drawing.
Deburr – The removal of jagged edges and protuberances on metal
surfaces, known as burrs, through abrasive or chemical means.
Dope – A compound used to lubricate the stock during the forming
portion of the drawing process.
Draw Bead – A rib-shaped projection on the draw ring or hold-down
surfaces that is useful in controlling the rate of metal flow during
deep draw processes, especially in the manufacturing of irregularly
Ductility – The ability of an object to accept bending or reforming
Ferrous Metal – A metal such as steel that contains a significant
portion of iron.
Hard Tooling – Also called “dedicated tooling,” it is a procedure
involving the multiple production of one specific part.
– A secondary operation in the metal stamping
process in which the strength and hardness of a metal part is increased
through controlled cycles of heating and cooling.
– The injection of molten plastic into the surrounding
area of metal stamping parts in order to combine the stamping parts
into a single piece.
Lead Time – The amount of time from product order to product
availability that it takes to complete product manufacture.
– A press that uses mechanical means to complete
stamping operations. In mechanical presses, a shaft conveys motion
to the punch.
– A metal, such as aluminum or zinc, in which
iron is not a main component.
Notching – The removal of the edges and corners of a metal blank.
Plating – Also called “electroplating,” it is a secondary operation
in the stamping process that involves coating a metal part with another
metal substance by electrical means to increase the corrosion resistance
of the part.
Precious Metals – Also called “noble metals,” they are expensive
metals, such as gold, silver and platinum, which remain resistant to
oxidation and corrosion.
Punch Press – A standard stamping press that reshapes material
through the application of compression.
Secondary Operations – Treatments, including cleaning, heat
treating, plating and deburring, performed after the initial metal
stamping process to refine the stamped part.
Soft Tooling – Tooling procedure involving the production of
multiple part configurations.
Stroke – The completion of one full movement of the stamping