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Precision Metal Stamping: Materials & Mods Guide

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Precision metal stamping is among the most common metalworking techniques utilized by various industries to turn sheet metal into custom parts.

Progressive metal stamping uses tooling called a progressive die, which contains multiple stamping stations to perform simultaneous operations on a sheet metal strip. A feeding system unrolls the strip from its coil and pushes it through each of the die’s different workstations until the final part is made.

Because this process uses various materials and techniques, it’s essential to understand the options available and factors to consider before getting started.

Precision Metal Stamping Challenges

One of these common problems is metal cracking, which can occur along the edges during hot and cold rolling. This is sometimes due to uneven heating or rolling, but there are also metallurgical factors to consider.

Like most challenges that occur during precision metal stamping, the best way to navigate cracking is to determine and address the root cause. Partnering with a precision reroll mill with metallurgical expertise can be a tremendous help for stampers in performing root cause analysis and resolving issues such as these.

Types of Steel Used for Precision Metal Stamping

Manufacturers can use a variety of metals in precision metal stampings. However, some processes and types of metals perform better in the precision metal stamping process or are a better fit for a particular use case.

Hot rolled steel is roll-pressed at high temperatures and cooled quickly, which leaves a rough surface. For purposes that require closer dimensional tolerances and accuracy, sheet metal is processed further at room temperature through cold finishing techniques.

During the cold rolling process, when the metal is put under mechanical stress, it causes a permanent change to the crystalline structure of the metal. This causes an increase in its strength and often improves corrosion resistance. A cold-rolled stainless steel coil can be precision manufactured, allowing the metal to be produced to extremely tight tolerances. Precision stamping itself uses stamping dies to form metal. This typically occurs at room temperature, making it a cold process.

When choosing a metal to use, consider the benefits and limitations of each and the requirements for your part. It’s all about matching the alloy and its properties with the needs of the application being manufactured.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Material for Precision Metal Stamping

Some of the key factors to consider when choosing a material for precision metal stamping are the metal’s ductility & formability, tensile strength, machinability, and work hardening rate.

DUCTILITY & FORMABILITY

Forming occurs somewhere between the yield strength and tensile strength of the material. If yield isn’t exceeded, forming doesn’t occur but exceeding the tensile strength results in a material fracture. In higher-strength materials, the window between yield and tensile is very small.

The grain size of a material is commonly used to indicate its formability, and consistent grain size is highly desirable for forming operations. Grain size can be controlled by a rerolling mill within a very close range by monitoring the temperature of the annealing furnace and the speed at which the strip passes through the line.

TENSILE STRENGTH

You should consider the tensile strength of the metal you choose to ensure that it can withstand the amount of force applied during use.

MACHINABILITY

A machinable material can be cut quickly with a good finish, which reduces costs. However, it’s more important to choose a material that meets the requirements of your part rather than choosing a machinable material.

WORK HARDENING RATE

Depending on how much work is done to the metal and how much it needs to be deformed in a particular operation, the material may require annealing to reset its properties to prevent cracking, breaks, and other material imperfections.

Forming Operations in Precision Metal Stamping

In precision metal stampings, manufacturers use metal forming operations to make parts from metal and metal alloys. It is highly versatile and can be used to create complex, detailed components with an exceptional degree of accuracy and repeatability.

design guideline can help you decide the optimal materials and processes.

Options That Fit Your Needs

Engineer-to-engineer collaboration between stampers and precision re-rollers is highly beneficial, especially during new product and process development. Ulbrich’s metallurgical experts and wide alloy selection allow us to match precision metal stampers with the ideal material for their applications and equipment.

Contact us to learn how our solutions could help you reduce scrap and die wear.