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Starting DFM Early with Metal Stamping Companies Limits Part Failure Risk

Posted by Tim Lynch | 4/1/11 12:02 PM

Design for Manufacturability (DFM) is a very important tool in the quality toolbox for manufacturers of complex products.  All too often, however, manufacturers have already set their design guidelines in stone before turning to their metal stamping suppliers for input on tool design.  As a result, the manufacturer may miss opportunities to create a more robust product, reduce costs, and even risks part failure.

Metal Stamping Designs Often Influenced by DFM

The best approach is to involve metal stamping companies early on in the design process, when they can provide valuable input on initial component designs.  For example, when a manufacturer provides a print of the proposed component, the metal stamping company can evaluate its manufacturability upfront by addressing such questions as:

  • Can that part be made as it is currently configured?
  • How difficult will it be to make the tool?
  • Can the tool be maintained to ensure quality standards throughout the production run?
  • How expensive will production of the part be?
  • Is there room for tolerance?
  • Is it possible to redesign the part to improve durability and reduce expense?

After reviewing these questions, the metal stamping company may make recommendations that influence the way the part is manufactured, many times resulting in a more efficient, cost-effective process with minimal risk of failure.

Design with Flexibility in Mind

Although a precision metal part may seem to be a very small component, product designers can benefit from input from precision metal stamping experts early on.  

For example, a medical device manufacturer presented Kenmode with a product design that our engineers determined was not manufacturable as a stamping.  We suggested many changes and created over 5 models before we had a part that functioned properly and was process capable as a stamping. This part was .008” thick stainless steel and had an extruded flange .040” high with a retention flange on the top surface. Additionally, it had small slots on the surface that were .010” wide which through our design efforts were changed to make them process capable.

In contrast, if designers are not flexible about their metal stamping specifications and are not receptive to the metal stamping company's concerns that the part is likely to fail, the costs to the manufacturer for new or revised tooling can be considerable.

 With the manufacturing sector gearing up for higher production as the economy recovers, and the cost of metals going up, it’s a great time to revisit and implement best practices such as Design for Manufacturability.

This article is the latest in our Precision Metal Stamping Quality Control series.  Be sure to read our previously posted articles:

Ask the right questions to avoid making a costly mistake
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