Planning Can Save Production Time and Costs: 13 Critical Steps to Ensure Metal Stamping Success (Steps 4-7)

By Tim Lynch
on October 25, 2016

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In the first part in this series, Metal Stampings Can Impact Your Bottom Line, we covered the first three of 13 critical steps to ensure success in metal stamping. In this article, steps four through seven highlight the importance of careful planning between the manufacturer and the metal stamping firm to ensure the most cost-effective production. Both OEM and metal stamping engineers can work together to make sure the new stamping is designed for maximum efficiency in material usage and the OEM’s final assembly process. Estimating expected swings in demand for the product and allowing time for secondary operations are also important.

Step 4. Assess the dimensions for final assembly

Step 5. Set accurate production volumes

Step 6. Select the best material and maximipe its use

Step 7. Plan for secondary operations

Step 4. Assess the dimensions for final assembly

When determining the appropriate dimensions of the part, it is important to consider how the part will fit into its final assembly.

If the metal stamping has to mate with another part or snap into place, those dimensions are critical. Any critical dimensions should be assigned accurate measurements and highlighted on the drawing.

To speed the time to market, the metal stamper may be able to design and run in-die assemblies to eliminate unnecessary steps in your overall production process and cut expenses.

In order to ensure that the part will function as required, the metal stamper will follow the requirements for the part approval process.

Understanding how the manufacturer will handle the part also affects how the stamping will be produced. Metal stamping dies can be designed to eliminate steps in the manufacturer’s assembly to save time and labor costs. For example, the stamped parts may be orientated in a particular way on a strip for automated assembly. Packaging is also a consideration. Stamped parts can be packaged for robotic handling, nested in a tray, or protected with cellophane applied for automated removal, among other custom options.

Step 5.  Set accurate production volumes

Whenever possible, manufacturers are advised to set realistic annual production volumes at the outset. If you expect variations in volume throughout the year, the metal stamper will need to be prepared for a flexible schedule. The manufacturer also may want to build up an inventory of parts in advance to meet demand forecasts.

Anticipated production volumes, together with the unique characteristics of the part, will determine whether you need manual assembly requiring specialized skills or fully automated or robotic-assisted assembly of multiple components.

For a new product launch where demand may increase quickly, you may find it more cost effective to start with automation, rather than move from manual to automated production and incur additional costs. If volumes exceed expectations, the metal stamping firm may need to build a second tool to handle the extra volume. It is extremely important to share production volume upfront to determine whether a multiple up-die may be necessary.

The article, Using Multiple-Up Dies for Metal Stamping to Save Money and Boost Volume, discusses the factors in multiple-up die usage, including production estimates and timeframe, material costs and anticipated scrap, tooling development and maintenance costs, variations in production and tight tolerances.

Step 6. Select the best material and maximize its use

Manufacturers may specify materials in their request for quote without fully understanding how the material will react during the stamping process. The metal stamper’s engineers can assist in selecting the best material for the part’s long-term function and wear, based on their knowledge of the characteristics of a wide range of materials used for different applications, from beryllium copper to pre-plated alloys to noble metals. Different materials can be tested during prototyping and simulation to validate performance.

The standard lead time for most material orders is 10 weeks. With noble metals and high-demand metals such as copper, lead times for orders can stretch as long as 12 weeks or more, which needs to be accounted for in production schedules. Global lead times for materials, which vary greatly from Europe to Asia, must also be taken into account.

The type of material selected depends on the part’s end 
use and the amount of wear the part will experience. One automobile manufacturer wanted to replace a plastic part that was being damaged in car washes with a metal part of the exact same dimensions. However, with the different properties of plastic versus metal, the part had to be redesigned as a drawn component.

In addition, the metal stamper can nest the parts to significantly reduce the amount of scrap generated in the blanking operation. The stamper may make recommendations to save on material cost by slightly changing the design and not the function. The stamping engineer can also lay out the part to minimize the use of precious metals or recommend the use of sp

MATERIALS USED IN METAL STAMPINGS

Ferrous metals, which contain iron, are magnetic and have little resistance to corrosion:

  • Hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel 

  • Stainless steel 

  • High-tensile steel 

  • Low, medium and high carbon steel 

  • Spring steels 

  • Coated steel

Non-ferrous metals – which contain no iron and are more resistant to corrosion:

  • Aluminum
  • Copper

  • Aluminum-clad copper 

  • Aluminum alloys 

  • Brass 

  • Phosphor bronze 

  • Beryllium copper 

  • High nickel alloys

Noble and other metals – which resist oxidation and corrosion:

  • Titanium
  • Gold
  • Platinum

  • Iridium
  • Niobium
  • MP35N

Other materials:

  • Mylar

  • Plain wire
  • Shaped wire

Step 7.  Plan for secondary operations

Plan ahead for plating and other secondary operations and rely on the stamper for guidance and oversight of the process.

These operations should be scheduled so that they can be handled as soon as possible after stamping to speed cycle time. The metal stamping firm can be expected to oversee secondary operations and quality control on the manufacturer’s behalf.

SECONDARY OPERATIONS

  • Heat treating: loose piece or on reels 

  • Secondary tooling to trim parts or to form and cingulate at the customer location 

  • Welding and spot welding 

  • Mechanical finishing, including sanding, grinding, polishing 
and buffing 

  • Forming and laser welding 

  • Specialty cleaning and deburring 

  • Passivation 

  • Sterilization 

  • Electropolishing 


Finishes:

  • Plating: precious and non-precious metals

  • Pre-plating

  • Post-plating

  • Spot plating

  • Painting, e-coat and other finishes

Assembly:

  • Manual
  • In-die

Coming up ...

The next blog article will cover the final six steps for metal stamping success:

  • Evaluate simulations and prototypes
  • Pick the best packaging
  • Build in time for tool design
  • Plan for quality with APQP
  • Monitor quality in real time
  • Keep in contact

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