Metal Stamping – A Powerful and Efficient Technique in DFM

by | Jan 27, 2020

Stamping is a great manufacturing process to consider for the high volume production of small metal components. Scott Miller of Dragon Innovation does a great job in his DFM lecture series in going over the assembly steps, design process, common applications, and pros-vs-cons.

Stamping is typically utilized to create parts such as brackets, deep draw containers, and fittings. The primary advantage of stamping is the short cycle time of production and repeatability, which makes it ideal for mass production but comes with the stipulation that tooling is generally quite expensive. You can integrate multiple features on any one component and although adding features add cost to the tooling, it doesn’t add costs to the part. There are relatively few size restrictions to stamped parts other than the cost of the tooling. One consideration to keep in mind is that it is difficult to prototype stamped parts as you need the tooling to get them in place. Plastics are generally not ductile enough to maintain shape and plastics are often not strong enough to withstand the process.

Stamping utilizes processes such as stretching, compressing, bending, and cutting to create features such as embossments, depressions, flanges, and hems. Stamping works by utilizing a punch to apply pressure to the material held in place over a die. Parts such as the beer can tab in the image above are made with a progressive die stamping operation, where the material is fed progressively through a set of dies that incrementally form the part, step by step. This is a highly efficient mass manufacturing operation for materials such as A366 steel, 204 & 316 stainless, and 3003-H14 & 5052-H32 aluminum.

Parts design considerations:
  • Use parallel edges as often as possible as the material is often bought in a roll that is fed into a machine
  • Avoid narrow sections and small holes to keep tooling repairs low
  • Parts can be designed from metal thicknesses of 0.1mm - 16mm
  • It is good to use planes, cylinders or cones for bending
  • For Aluminum 6061, use 6x material thickness, most other metals use a bend radius equal to material thickness
  • Remember that parts lengthen during the stamping process according to the material’s K-factor.
  • The minimum width of a flange design should be 2.5T
  • Distances between holes and the edge of a part should be > 2T
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