In the engineering and manufacturing sector, metal stamping has been conventional the chosen part-forming process. Metal stamping entails the use of various processes such as punching, embossing, bending, flanging, and so on. These processes are typically carried out on sheet metal using a stamping press or machine press.
As various industries evolved, the need for more complex and cost-effective forming processes became evident. With this, certain disadvantages pertaining to stamping came to the fore. Though traditionally popular, the stamping process has certain drawbacks that simply cannot be ignored by a new-age business. This article elucidates the shortcomings of traditional stamping methods, and other forming methods that can be employed as suitable substitutes.
The drawbacks of metal stamping
Here are some of the commonly known drawbacks associated with the stamping method:
- Costs: The various pre-production and tooling costs related to stamping are high. These costs ultimately add to the cost-per-part. In many cases this high initial investment is uncalled for. However, since businesses aren’t aware of other options they often agree to spend more than what is required
- Versatility: Custom tools usually need to be created before the stamping process can begin. This not only adds to the initial investment, but it also means that even the most minor change in design cannot be accommodated.
- Production volumes: While there is little doubt about the fact that metal stamping proves economical in large volume production runs, it is rather unsuitable for smaller production runs. The high initial tooling investment is the main reason for this.
- Lead times: From design to tooling to production, the lead times taken for the metal stamping process are often long. Thus, if one has a super rush order and cannot afford to waste precious time, they would want to rethink about choosing stamping as an option.
So, what are the alternatives?
Metal spinning and sheet hydroforming are the definitive alternatives to the traditional metal stamping process. These processes can mitigate almost all of the drawbacks relating to tooling costs, production runs, and part quality that are associated with the stamping process. Hydroforming is a technique of shaping a metal using a highly pressurized fluid. This method is preferred for parts that have complex contours, yet need to maintain their structural integrity. Metal spinning—also referred to as spin forming—entails shaping a metal disk into an axially symmetrical part on a high-speed spinning lathe.
Both of these methods can be successfully used for forming high quality metal parts from various metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, and even brass. These metal forming services should ideally be availed from experienced firms with an established portfolio in providing alternatives to the metal stamping process.