What Is Sheet Metal Stamping and What Is It Used for?

The saying that goes “necessity is the mother of invention” can be summed up in only one word, which is “need”. Big companies, including manufacturers of automobiles, aircraft and appliances frequently propel the need for sheet metal tooling. Such companies are known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs.

When an OEM is aware that there is a need for a part or new product line, it will find out the best way to produce it. This is where it is important to have enough information about several different processes. For instance, when a large-volume part can be stamped instead of undergoing casting, it can be produced at a relatively lower cost.

Though a number of OEMS can build the tooling as well as run the dies on their own, they frequently outsource the production of these parts. They may hire the services of a company to produce the parts to meet their need. Such companies that work in cooperation with the OEMs are known as Tier 1 suppliers.

How does a Sheet Metal Stamping Operation Work?

In this operation, the sheet metal is cut, then formed into the preferred shape. Though a sheet metal stamping process may make use of several different types of special machines, it requires three most important basic items: stamping die, stamping press and sheet metal from which the part will be made.

The majority of sheet metal stamping operations entail cold forming, except for a specialized sheet metal stamping method commonly known as hot stamping. In essence, this means that heat is not purposely introduced into the sheet metal or die. It is important to remember that though stamping is a cold-forming process, heat is produced. Cutting/forming sheet metal generates friction between the die and metal, similar to the heat and friction produced when rubbing hands together.

Since heat is produced from friction during the process of cutting and forming, when stamped parts exit the dies, they are often very hot.

What Are the Occupations Associated with Sheet Metal Stamping?

There are lots of stamping-related careers available, including die process engineers, die designers, machinists, diemakers and die maintenance technicians.

Process engineers are in charge of determining the steps required to transform a flat metal sheet into a finished part, which is a crucial job. A single error can immediately cause the whole process to fail.

Die designers design the tools needed to effectively carry out the process that has been established. Most individuals can work both as process engineers and die designers. The latter can be more effective when they fully understand mechanical motion, material strengths and the different types of tool steel. They are experts at operating computer-aided software or CAD.

Machinists cut die components from specific materials to their proper proportions.

Diemakers assemble, as well as construct the tool. They have to test the die to make sure that it functions well and continuously produces a piece part that is good enough.

Production die maintenance technicians are responsible for the maintenance and repair of stamping dies.