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    Precision metal stamping is a manufacturing process that utilizes a custom tool and die set installed in a stamping press to turn sheet metal into the desired components. It is used in a wide range of industries to create large quantities of parts and products with high precision, accuracy, and speed. While this process offers manufacturing advantages, it is not appropriate for every production project.

    The following article discusses some of the considerations to keep in mind when determining whether precision metal stamping is right for your project. It provides an overview of the process, the benefits it offers, and the typical industries that use it.

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    Metal stamping—also sometimes referred to as pressing—relies on specialized tooling (i.e., a tool and die set) and equipment (i.e., a press) to form metal sheets and coils into the required shape and size. The pressure exerted on the workpiece by the press forces the material to conform to the shape formed by the tool and die. This process can occur in a single stage or across several stages, depending on the simplicity or complexity of the end product. Precision metal stamping operations largely rely on the use of automated equipment, which ensures the finished components are both precise and accurate.

    In addition to higher precision and accuracy, some of the other advantages the precision metal stamping process demonstrates over other manufacturing processes include:

    • Greater product and process quality. Accuracy offered by the precision metal stamping process translates to a lower error rate during production. This means there is a smaller chance of producing faulty or flawed parts making it into the hands of customers.
    • Lower production costs. A generally automated process, precision metal stamping mitigates the need for manual labor. This quality also results in a lower error rate, which translates to less material utilization and waste during a production run.

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    As indicated above, the precision metal stamping process finds application in a wide range of industries. Some of the industries that regularly employ the process for the production of their parts and products include:

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    Metal Stamping for AutomotiveIn the automotive industry, stamping is used to create a variety of structural and functional parts used in vehicle bodies and frames, electrical systems, steering systems, and more. Some examples of typical automobile parts made in metal stamping operations include:

    • Brackets and hangers
    • Electrical terminals and connectors
    • Wire forms (e.g., tire and under chassis components)

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    In the aerospace industry, parts and products are subject to strict manufacturing requirements and restrictions. These guidelines are in place to ensure the safety of the aircraft’s personnel and passengers and the public. For this reason, aerospace components manufacturers (e.g., Keats Manufacturing Co.) maintain certification and compliance with various industry standards such as Mil-spec and RoHS. Some of the metal stamped parts and products commonly produced for aerospace applications include:

    • Assemblies
    • Brackets
    • Bushings
    • Clips
    • Lead frames
    • Shields
    • Terminals
    • Wire forms

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    Metal Stamping for Medical DevicesSimilar to the aerospace industry, the medical device industry has many standards dictating how a component should be made. These exceptionally high standards ensure the safety of medical practitioners and patients. Standard and custom metal stampings are found in a variety of medical devices, including:

    • Connectors, couplings, and fittings
    • Equipment housing and sleeves
    • Implants and prosthetics
    • Pump and motor components
    • Surgical instruments and equipment
    • Temperature probes

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    Professionals in the electrical distribution industry make use of many different metal stamped parts and products in circuit breakers, distribution boxes, switches, transformers, and other critical equipment. Some examples include:

    • Brackets
    • Clips
    • Contacts
    • Inserts
    • Shields
    • Terminals

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    Metal Stamping for Appliances - Washing MachinePrecision metal stampings are found in a wide range of commercial and residential appliances, such as:

    • Automatic garage doors
    • Dishwashers
    • Dryers
    • Garbage disposals
    • Grills
    • HVAC units
    • Irrigation systems
    • Ovens
    • Pool filtration and pump systems
    • Refrigerators
    • Security systems
    • Stoves
    • Thermostats
    • Washers
    • Water heaters

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    The renewable energy industry encompasses solar, wind, geothermal, and other clean energy operations. As the industry grows in response to the push for greater sustainability, so too does the need for reliable parts for power generation and distribution equipment and systems. Some of the metal stamped components regularly produced for such applications are:

    • Antennas
    • Brackets and clips
    • Cases, inserts, and retainers
    • Fan blades
    • Grounding straps and busbars
    • Heat sinks
    • Plates
    • Shields
    • Terminals and contacts

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    The precision metal stamping process plays a critical role in the production of components for many industries. For customers looking for an experienced and knowledgeable metal stamping partner, the Keats Manufacturing team is here to help.

    At Keats Manufacturing, we’ve provided custom small metal stamping solutions for over 60 years. Armed with extensive manufacturing experience and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, we can fulfill nearly every metal stamping request with a high-quality product solution. To find out more about our metalworking capabilities or partner with us on your next project, contact us or request a quote today.

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    Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

    Aluminum alloys are grades of aluminum containing other elements that enhance the strength, durability, and other properties of pure aluminum. Adding different alloying elements allows the material to perform in a range of applications. 

    Elements often added to aluminum include:

    • Silicon
    • Iron
    • Magnesium
    • Copper
    • Zinc
    • Manganese

    These elements can make up at least 15% of the final alloy by weight. Here we’ll explain the properties and types of aluminum alloys, as well as what makes a good alloy for metal stamping.

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    Aluminum alloys contain aluminum as the predominant metal along with other alloying elements. There are two major forms of aluminum alloys: wrought and cast alloys.

    A cast aluminum alloy is an alloy that is melted in a furnace and poured into a mold to cool and solidify. Finished components have a low melting point, and the process creates cost-effective products. However, cast alloys generally have lower tensile strength than wrought alloys. Wrought aluminum alloys are alloys worked in solid form with the help of specialized tools. Aluminum stamping utilizes these alloys, which can be separated into two categories: wrought non-heat-treatable and wrought heat-treatable. 

    Cast and wrought aluminum have different identification systems. Cast aluminum alloys are identified by three digits followed by one decimal place. Wrought alloys follow a four-digit system, in which the first digit identifies the principal alloying element. The second digit, if not a 0, signifies a modification of the alloy, while the third and fourth digits identify the specific alloy. For non-heat-treatable alloys, a suffix is added to the number to indicate temper designation.

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    One of the major benefits of aluminum alloys is their excellent strength-to-weight ratio: they are strong without being heavy. Because they are light, they are often used in commercial projects and transportation applications, where reduced weight results in cost savings. 

    Since they are light and effective, aluminum alloy parts last longer and require less raw material to make. These and the following characteristics make aluminum alloys ideal for metal stamping operations:

    • Thermal and electrical conductivity
    • Flexibility and malleability
    • Shiny, smooth finish requires little maintenance
    • Corrosion resistance
    • Strength at low and high temperatures

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    There are three types of aluminum alloys:

    • Wrought non-heat-treatable
      • Made up of high-purity aluminum alloys (1xxx series), manganese alloys (3xxx series), and magnesium alloys (5xxx series), all of which are used for metal stamping
      • Hardened mainly through cold working
    • Wrought heat-treatable
      • Consists of copper, magnesium, or zinc as alloying elements
      • Includes 2xxx series, 6xxx series, and 7xxx series
      • Precipitation hardening enhances the alloy’s strength
    • Cast aluminum alloys
      • Includes non-heat-treatable and heat-treatable alloys
      • 2xxx, 3xxx, 4xxx, 7xxx, 8xxx series
      • Strength levels are not as high as those of wrought heat-treatable alloys

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    Aluminum is available in various alloys and tempers. The best product varies by project. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing an aluminum grade:

    • Level of workability or formability 
    • Level of corrosion resistance
    • Strength level
    • Typical applications
    • Weldability or machinability
    • Type of heat treatment

    These are the characteristics and applications of the common aluminum alloys used for metal stamping:

    Aluminum Alloy Alloying Elements Characteristics Common Applications
    1100 Commercially pure aluminum Ductile and soft

    Excellent corrosion resistance

    Useful for applications that require intricate forming because it hardens slower than other alloys

    Kitchenware, decorative trim, giftware
    3003 Commercially pure aluminum with manganese added Most frequently used aluminum alloy; inexpensive

    Manganese increases strength by about 20% over  1100 aluminum

    Corrosion resistance

    Good workability 

    Can be welded, deep drawn, spun, or brazed

    Cooking utensils, kitchen equipment, chemical equipment
    5052 Alloyed with magnesium Highest strength alloy of the common non-heat-treatable grades

    Fatigue strength is better than other alloys

    Excellent resistance to marine atmospheres and saltwater corrosion

    Optimal workability and good finishing characteristics

    Aircraft components, home appliances, heavy-duty cooking utensils

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    For the best turnaround time and price, Keats Manufacturing recommends selecting common gauge and common alloys. Since 1958, we have been crafting stamped metal parts for each client’s needs. We have a strict adherence to our quality control system, ensuring that your customer satisfaction and confidence are our top priority.

    Over the decades, unique projects and parts have come through our facility. Decisions for design details and custom tooling influence the performance of the parts, but the material used is always the most critical decision made in the manufacturing process.

    To learn more about how we can help with your next project, contact our team. For more information about the materials we use, check out our downloadable eBook, Choosing the Best Raw Materials.

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