Shaped wire benefits for stampers

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The Benefits of Shaped Wire for Stamped Parts Manufacturing

The stamping process, also known as pressing, typically involves continuously running flat metal in coil form through a tool and die. The output of that process results in a stamped product manufactured to the specification needed for the part. In some cases, manufacturers will also utilize blanks for their production, which are also used for individual stamping. A stamping press is designed specifically for stamping metal parts out of raw material, and upon running material, a tool and die will form the metal into a specified shape. Several types of stamping techniques may be used to achieve an end product, including punching, blanking, bending, coining, and more. Each of these processes can be effective in arriving at the desired shape, however, there are different cost variables involved with each. Starting with a Shaped Wire Product can supplement the stamping process by pre-rolling in features to the material that otherwise cannot be stamped in.

Today, far more manufacturers are focusing on reducing scrap from production. This is beneficial to the environment and the manufacturer's bottom line, while offering significant cost reduction and less turnaround time for customers. Starting with a shaped wire product produces less scrap since stamping is a multi-step process. Shaped wire products can provide tighter tolerances over the alternative, which can help eliminate certain stages or steps in the stamping process that may otherwise be necessary when using regular flat material. This is possible through Ulbrich’s capabilities to pre-shape material. Ulbrich Shaped Wire produces a shaped material manufactured into its final profile by rolling round wire flat and then shaping the material by pulling or pushing the material through steel rolls. The drawing process elongates the wire and leaves an extremely low percentage of product leftover as scrap. This wire is then used to begin our rolling and shaping process.

Typically, a lot of material is lost during the metal machining process. Ulbrich overcomes this challenge by taking by rolling the material to shape rather than removing material. Unlike machining, shaping wire to a specific profile essentially "squeezes" and elongates the material through a group of steel rolls/dies, therefore preserving the amount of material started with. Since coils can potentially weigh a thousand pounds, the possibility of eliminating countless hours of machining time due to a near-net-shape result is very real. Additionally, the ability to pre-shape wire presents is in reducing costs due to the potentially high expense of tooling/dies. Pre-shaped products can potentially afford manufacturers the chance to eliminate the need to buy tooling while also reducing the number of potential die changes that must be made.

One good example of what Ulbrich can provide includes blade products for specific applications. For instance, a customer initially using a flat strip product needed to add processing to skive the edges. In contrast, Ulbrich was able to supply them with a shaped profile, allowing them to eliminate the additional edging operations. This was a boon to their entire manufacturing operation as it saved them a ton of time and money. 

Ulbrich Shaped Wire (USW), a division of Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc., constantly analyzes operations and offerings in an ongoing quest to optimize and innovate, while developing processes that provide clients with value-added raw material. USW often takes concepts provided by our customers and works with them in a highly collaborative way to arrive at an outcome that will provide cost savings. Upon agreement, a technical drawing is provided for approval to make sure that it meets customer's needs. Ulbrich also has a team of product managers available at all times throughout the development process for additional commercial support.

USW provides material that may offer a stamper the opportunity to eliminate tooling steps by getting the material closer to the final stamped part outcome. Improvements in both process time and cost reduction are seen when the amount of setup time due to the number of tooling changes is reduced. Furthermore, Ulbrich can add features to the profile that cannot be achieved during the stamping process, including rounded sections, bladed edges, or unique dimensional requirements. Overall, Ulbrich has worked with more than 165 alloys through the years, including 300 and 400 series stainless steels, Titanium, and Hi-temperature advanced Nickel Alloys such as Inconel and Monel. All tooling is custom manufactured in-house by state-of-the-art New England tooling center. Basic profiles that Ulbrich provides include half rounds with special corner radii, rounded sides, bladed or razor-edged flats, wedge wire and Kamm profiles, as well as many other custom profile products. Depending on the profile's complexity, shapes are provided in net or near-net suitable for stamping, coining, forming, or machining.

Read the full, in-depth article on Ulbrich’s blog to continue learning how they provide the highest value material, the least downtime, and the best part variability. Download Ulbrich’s Metal Alloys for Stamping & Deep Drawn Part Manufacturing Whitepaper, then contact a metallurgist to discuss your stamping needs!