Metal forming services and metalworking have come a long way since humans first started using precious metals to create beautiful, functional items for their use. Today, it’s challenging to get through a day without touching at least one metal object created to make our lives easier.
From stamping to welding to more, everyday items made from these metals are extraordinarily more common than we’d think! In this blog post, we’re going to take a deeper dive into the subject of metal stamping.
What Are Metal Forming Services?
Metal forming, a subset of metal fabrication, involves the reshaping of metals while still in the solid-state. By taking advantage of certain metals’ plasticity, the metal forming process makes it possible to improve a solid metal piece into the desired form.
The metal forming process(es) chosen accomplishes this without melting the metal itself. This avoids any potential difficulties in handling molten metal or the integrity of molded products.
Those in the know classify metal forming services as either “hot working” or “cold working.”
While hot working processes deform metal above its recrystallization temperature, cold working performs below it. The temperatures involved in these two processes are not static. They vary from metal to metal. In some cases, room temperature actually may mean hot working conditions.
Hot-working involves working at temperatures higher than 60% of the metal’s melting point (on the Kelvin scale).
When working above the recrystallization temperature, the metal grains are stressed from former processes applied to them.
Next, it is re-melted into new grains that are more ductile and less hard. This softening and ductility make the metal easier to form into your desired shape.
Hot-working is best when a large amount of deformation is required. It takes less force to work on hot metal. Hot forming processes allow the metal to stretch far more than in cold forming.
Additionally, it doesn’t harden the metal, which enables the metal to keep its ductility. However, hot working has some disadvantages, including a rougher surface finish, less accurate dimensions, and a shorter tool life.
Metalworkers perform cold working processes on most metals at room temperature (or slightly higher than room temperature). As long as the process’s operating temperature is below the metal’s recrystallization temperature, it qualifies as a cold working process.
Cold working takes more energy than hot working processes. It does, however:
- create more robust products,
- provide closer tolerances,
- offer good surface finishes,
- and requires minimum machining to the piece.
The cold working method also creates more strength and hardness in the metal from strain hardening. Also, the way cold forming affects the metal’s grain flow can be useful for specific applications. Since cold forming also doesn’t require a furnace or fuel, it allows the manufacturer to save on those utility costs.
There are drawbacks to cold forming, though:
- It takes more power to form cold-worked metal.
- Cold forming accomplishes limited forming because of the strain hardening that occurs.
- You can’t deform metal as easily as hot-worked metal pieces.
Types Of Metal Forming Services
Metal forming involves many techniques, here are just a few of the most common:
- Drawing & Deep Drawing
Today, we’re diving into Metal Stamping.
A Deeper Dive Into Metal Stamping
There is no doubt that stamping has drastically changed our everyday routines.
Metal stamping can help produce such items as:
- Beverage cans
- Cigarette lighters
- Computer parts
- Gun shells
- Pots and pans
- Washers and dryers
And these are just a few items to give you a sampling!
What Is Metal Stamping?
A metal stamping operation is one in which sheet metal is cut and formed into the desired shape. A metal stamping process may utilize numerous special machines. Three necessary items are essential to the operation:
- the metal developed from the desired part;
- the stamping press; and
- the stamping dye.
Except for a specialized metal stamping process commonly referred to as hot stamping, most metal stamping operations involve cold forming.
Essentially, this means that no heat is intentionally introduced into the dye or the metal. Even though stamping is a cold-forming process, it generates heat. Cutting or forming metal creates friction between the dye and the metal.
Because heat generated from the friction produced during the cutting and forming process, stamped parts are often scorching when they exit the dyes.
Metal Stamping Careers
There are many metal stamping careers available in shops, such as:
- Process Engineer. A process engineer is responsible for laying out the steps needed to turn a “raw piece of metal” into the desired, finished part. It is a critical task for any project and an important position for any shop. A single error in this process can quickly spell failure.
- Dye Designer. A dye designer is responsible for the tool design to execute the process established by the process engineer effectively. Many individuals can serve as both process engineers and dye designers. Influential dye designers have a solid understanding of mechanical motion. They often generally have an in-depth knowledge of material strengths and tool steel types. They are highly skilled at operating CAD (computer-aided design) software.
- Machinist. A machinist is “hands-on” with the equipment. They are responsible for cutting dye components from the specified materials into the required, proper dimensions.
- Dye maker. A Dye maker assembles and constructs the tool. They are also responsible for testing the dye to make sure it functions properly. They have to make sure the dye can consistently produce an acceptable piece part.
- Production dye Maintenance Technician. These technicians are responsible for maintaining, repairing, and troubleshooting stamping dyes.
What Is Metal Stamping Used For?
Metal stampers use a variety of applications, especially those involving:
- three-dimensional designs,
- any lettering,
- or other surface engraving features.
The metal stamping process produces all sizes of parts – parts for large machinery down to incredibly-detailed small pieces. Thus, micro-precision metal stamping can create components with diameters of only up to 0.002 inches.
What Metals Can Be Stamped?
The choice of metal stamping material used depends on the desired qualities of the finished piece.
Metals generally tend to maintain their malleability and ductility after stamping. The metals used in precision stamping usually range from soft to medium hardness.
Some common metals and metal types used in metal stamping include:
- Ferrous metals, especially iron-based alloys like stainless steel
- Non-ferrous metals, such as brass, bronze, and zinc
- Non-standard alloys, such as beryllium copper and beryllium nickel
- Precious and semi-precious metals, such as gold, platinum, and silver
Specifically, ferrous metals are commonly used in stamping operations, as their low carbon content means they are one of the least costly options, resulting in lower production costs.
Why Should You Hire A Metal Stamping Professional?
As metal stampers, we must be masters of the trade. We train to accept nothing less than perfection. Perfection in the metal stamping and dye industry means that everything fits and functions properly. Fit and function are critical.