Accurate and reliable tooling is a crucial factor in the success of any metal stamping operation. The quality of metal stamping parts depends heavily on the accuracy and reliability of the tools and dies used in the stamping process. Properly designed and maintained tools will result in consistent and top-notch products. Conversely, poorly fabricated dies can lead to defects and inconsistencies in stamping.
Verdugo Tool & Engineering is a family-owned and operated sheet metal stamping company established in 1957. Our facility is registered as ISO 9001 and ITAR compliant, ensuring high quality and traceability in our work. Furthermore, we constantly reevaluate our processes and control methods to shorten lead times and better serve customers.
Short-Run vs. Long-Run Metal Stamping
Metal stamping is a manufacturing process that involves shaping metal sheet stock into desired forms using a stamping press. Stamping tools are usually broken down into two categories called short-run and long-run or progressive tooling:
Advantages of Short-Run Metal Stamping
Short-run metal stamping refers to a smaller quantity of parts in a shorter amount of time. This method is typically used for prototyping or producing smaller batches of parts.
This method offers several advantages over other manufacturing processes. Some of its benefits include the following:
Short-run metal stamping is an excellent choice for manufacturers who want to save money on production costs, particularly for smaller quantities of parts. It offers a more affordable option that can help businesses stay within budget by avoiding the high tooling costs of progressive tooling.
Quick Turnaround Time
Short-run metal stamping is a great option when time is of the essence. With shorter lead times and faster production speeds, manufacturers can produce and ship their parts more quickly.
Lower Material Waste
Because the parts are not connected in a material strip (each part is made from its own separate blank) there is less scrap and therefore less material we need to buy for each order. This allows us to pass the savings on to our customers.
Improved Quality Control
With the ability to easily monitor and adjust short run tooling, we can ensure that the final product meets our customers high-quality standards.
Advantages of Long-Run Metal Stamping
Long-run metal stamping refers to producing high-volume parts over a longer period, typically involving a larger, more expensive stamping press and specialized tooling. It is also called progressive tooling because it combines several processes — such as bending, piercing, and drawing — in a single tool.
Some of the benefits of long-run metal stamping are:
Lower Cost per Part
Fixed costs, such as tooling and setup, are spread out over a larger number of parts. The run rates are also much higher than short run tooling. As a result, the overall cost of production is lower, making it more cost-effective for larger production quantities.
Long-run metal stamping is known for its high consistency in part quality. This is due to specialized tooling and equipment allowing for precise and accurate cuts and shapes. This ensures that each part produced is identical to the previous one, resulting in improved product reliability and customer satisfaction.
Faster Production Time
Long-run metal stamping can produce parts faster than short-run metal stamping. This is because all the parts are attached together in the strip and are processed sequentially through the die. This is in contrast to short run tooling where each part must be moved station by station by hand.
Properties of Materials for Successful Deep Drawing
Deep drawing is a metal-forming process involving converting a flat metal sheet into a three-dimensional shape usually in the shape of a cup. The process involves stretching the metal sheet over a punch and forcing it into a die cavity, causing the sheet to take on the shape of the punch.
Some of the properties that are important to consider when selecting a material for deep drawing include the following:
Deep drawing requires materials that can undergo large amounts of plastic deformation without tearing or cracking. Materials with high ductility and low-strain hardening are preferred for deep drawing. High ductility allows the metal to stretch and conform to the die shape without failure. Generally speaking, stainless steels are better at this than aluminum although both work well.
The material should have consistent mechanical properties throughout its thickness. This is because non-uniform materials may cause variations in deformation and lead to defects in the deep-drawn part.
Thin sheets are commonly used in deep drawing because they are more easily deformed. However, thicker sheets can also be deep drawn if the material has suitable properties and the process parameters are adjusted accordingly.
Materials that harden excessively during deformation are unsuitable for deep drawing. Excessive work hardening can lead to cracking or spring back, where the formed part tries to return to its original shape. This can happen when the part has multiple different bends or features that require several different operations to make. In this case the part might need to be annealed in the middle of processing.
Sheet Metal Design Tips for Better Fabrication
Here are some essential sheet metal design tips that will help you achieve better results in your fabrication projects:
Tip 1: Understand the Material’s Properties
Each material has unique characteristics, such as strength, ductility, and thickness. Knowing these features can help you determine the best design for the material and avoid costly mistakes.
Tip 2: Use Standard Bend Radii
Standard bend radii are readily available and easily incorporated into your design process. This approach also simplifies the fabrication process and saves time. Stock tooling radii such as 1/64”, 1/32”, 1/16”, etc.
Tip 3: Avoid Sharp Corners
Sharp corners in sheet metal designs can cause problems during fabrication, such as tearing, cracking, or warping. To avoid these issues, it is best to design with rounded corners. This design feature improves the overall strength and durability of the product. This includes bend radii as well. These need to be big enough not to crack, but if too big will have too much spring back.
Tip 4: Consider the Tooling
The tooling used during fabrication can significantly impact the final product’s quality and cost. By considering the tooling early in the design process, you can reduce tooling expenses and improve the efficiency of the fabrication process.
Tip 5: Design for Manufacturability
Designing for manufacturability involves optimizing the design to ensure it can be efficiently and economically fabricated. Therefore, it is important to consider factors such as tolerances, material, tooling, and fabrication when designing for manufacturability. For example, do not place holes and embosses too close to bends or the edges of the part as they will stretch and deform as well as weaken the die walls.
Tip 6: Plan for Material Utilization
By planning for optimal material usage, you can reduce material waste and lower the overall cost of the product.
Tip 7: Minimize Welds
Welding is an essential part of the sheet metal fabrication process, but it can also be costly and time-consuming. By minimizing welds in your design, you can reduce the overall cost of the product and simplify the fabrication process.
Tip 8: Use Symmetric Designs
Symmetric designs are more straightforward to fabricate and often require fewer parts, reducing the overall cost of the product. Symmetric methods also improve the overall aesthetics and functionality of the product.
Tip 9: Consider the Finishing Process
The finishing process can significantly impact the final product’s quality and aesthetics. Therefore, it is essential to consider finishing early in the design process to ensure smooth and cost-effective production.
Tip 10: Test and Iterate
Testing and improving your design ensures that the final product meets all specifications and requirements.
Trust Verdugo Tool & Engineering for Expert Tool and Die Design Solutions
Looking to enhance the quality of your metal fabrication processes? Turn to Verdugo Tool & Engineering for expert tool and die design! Our skilled team of engineers, tool makers, and press operators can handle both short-run tooling and long-term production runs. We also do precise metal stamping and offer value-added services. With over 60 years of experience, our team is dedicated to delivering outstanding results that meet your unique requirements!