The Value of Stamped and Assembled Components
Ever since people started using tools, they have been trying to find ways to bend materials to their will. From early prehistoric times, all the way up to computer-aided manufacturing, methods, and tools evolved, but the ultimate goal remains: shaping wood, metal, plastic, glass, etc., exactly how we imagine it. And we’ve come a long way, no doubt.
In fact, technology has achieved such high levels that little seems impossible in the production world. Metals, the subject of this article, are used in virtually every industry, from silicon in the tiniest microchips to aluminum and lithium alloys in spacecraft. Let’s examine how the process of stamping plays a significant role in the field of metallurgy. Go to www.thefabricator.com/thefabricator/article/stamping/die-basics-101-intro-to-stamping for more information.
The Nuts and Bolts
First, you need to find out what metal sampling is to understand it better. Basically, it transforms flat metal sheets using machines, such as stamping presses and dies, to create new forms. All the metal components you see around you, like cars, trucks, buildings, and various structures, went through plenty of careful twisting and turning to look like that and be functional.
Stamping, also known as pressing, is a cold-forming process, using near-room temperatures to transform metals (the advantage is that cold-forming generally produces better surfaces, though it’s harder to control the temperature.) Fabricators will put pieces of sheet metal into a stamping press and, using tools and dies, produce entirely new parts for different applications.
The reason why stamping is widespread is popular is because it’s practical and fast. The same procedures and techniques yield a variety of identical metal components for any production run, short or long. It uses several different processes, each with a specific purpose to get the metal precisely how the fabricator envisioned it.
The two primary operations are punching and blanking, the very basics of the stamping process. Punching has nothing to do with bare-knuckle fistfights; it refers to a punch that makes holes in the metal piece when entering the die. Then we have blanking, or singling out the needed part from the source material. Thus removed, the piece can be further shaped into all sorts of components.
Another widely used technique is coining, which falls under forging processes. In a few words, you put a lot of stress on the sheet metal by placing it between two tools to induce plastic flow. As a result, you eliminate drafts and get smoother surfaces. Also, you get closer tolerances, which are essential for getting ultimate precision.
For aesthetic (and sometimes practical reasons), manufacturers will often employ embossing or debossing, depending on the requirement. These are two opposite techniques: the former raises the design to get texture, while the latter is used to recess (lower) the design. Fabricators can get highly creative during this stage and produce all kinds of eye-catching motifs.
You can find stamped products literally everywhere. Household appliances, vehicle parts, construction, electronics – the list is practically endless. The techniques we described previously, along with some others, such as lancing, drawing, piercing, flanging, etc., create a variety of specialty equipment that cannot be produced any other way.
One area that benefits from stamped products is construction. It takes spending only a minute on a site to realize how useful the components are. Whether it’s connectors, switches, power tools, or equipment for construction projects, such as commercial and private buildings, stamped components are integral parts in almost any scenario. They are durable and sturdy enough to withstand the harsh conditions and temperature changes of building sites.
Residential and commercial appliances would have a hard time functioning without stamped sheet metal parts. They are integrated in food-related appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, ovens, cooktops, fryers, grills, etc. Then, you can find them in disposal systems, ice machines, washers, dryers, and temperature control devices. Honestly, you’d have an easier task finding an appliance that lacks stamped parts.
Industries also use a wide range of electronic stampings. These include contacts, springs, terminals, lead frames, and many others, usually made of aluminum, steel, or copper and copper alloys. Aluminum is probably the best for complex shapes, as it’s very malleable and elastic than steel. Copper alloys are very corrosion-resistant and are excellent conductors.) Every piece of electronic equipment, including computers, sound systems, TV sets, medical devices, uses many custom-made stampings in specialized shapes.
From what we’ve seen so far, metal stamping is highly beneficial in the industrial world. The short processing time cuts down costs significantly, saving you a lot of money. This is especially important in large-scale industries that produce thousands of parts for a project. Other methods would undoubtedly cost more, while stamping means less labor time, fewer workers and machines, and happier manufacturers.
The immaculate precision of stamping techniques allows companies to produce complex and sophisticated shapes with tiny but necessary details. A good example would be all the different fittings, fasteners, and couplings used in the defense, aircraft, and aerospace industries, where each component matters and has to meet the highest production standards.
Durability is another selling point here. These components have high-quality finishes, such as electroplating, coat surfacing, painting, and others, giving them excellent protection against hostile conditions and harsh weather. Once they’re stamped, the parts generally don’t need additional processing and can be used immediately.
Material waste can be quite a problem in metallurgy. This is where stampings are advantageous yet again: it produces less waste than other formation methods, which helps to protect the environment. (You can always look up reputable companies like UHI Group – Metal Components Machine Shop for quality solutions.) Also, the processes are highly automated and require less effort and skills from workers, though they certainly need to be competent.
Some detractors point out that stamping isn’t ideal for short-term and low-scale production, and other formation methods are more effective in that regard. But for larger manufacturers, this process is invaluable in terms of cost-effectiveness, precision, durability, and quality. And judging from the demands on the market, it’s going to stay for quite a while.