In the context of metal forming, the process of metal stamping comprises of several different press forming operations such as punching, bending, flanging, coining, blanking etc. For a sheet or tube of metal to be made useful, it needs to be formed. These processes have been in use for several decades and have evolved with the emergence of newer techniques over the years. Despite this, there are certain drawbacks associated with stamping that tend to delay or adversely affect commercial or industrial projects.
For instance, the biggest challenge is investment in tooling systems. The entire set-up requires a significant capital investment, the cost of which is passed on directly to customers. Another aspect to consider would be production volume. Most companies that cater to industrial players often find it difficult to cater to small production volumes. Even if they do agree to deliver a limited batch, the cost per part is significantly high. In such a case, the lead times tend to be longer too.
With these drawbacks of stamping become more evident to industries, there is a growing inclination towards alternative methods such as sheet hydroforming and metal spinning. Interestingly, the tooling costs of these alternative methods could be up to 85% less than conventional stamping tooling costs. While there are several companies that offer such services, there are only a handful of companies that offer world-class metal forming and fabricating services.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of these alternative metal forming methods:
- Metal spinning: Also referred to as spin forming, this method allows a fabricator to use a metal disc or tube to turn it into an axially symmetric part. This is achieved by spinning the metal on a high-speed lathe. In some cases, the spinning process is carried out manually too. Different types of ductile metals can be formed using this particular method. The metal spinning technique is very cost-effective and is also suitable for high volume part production.
- Hydroforming: This technique involves the use of highly pressurized fluid for shaping and contouring a metal sheet. Whether it is a smooth contour or intricate angles, you can achieve a well-finished part using this method. This is one of the most cost-effective methods of shaping ductile metals like stainless steel, aluminum, and brass among others. The parts thus formed tend to be structurally strong, which explains why automobile industries are increasingly using this method.
Parts formed using these techniques are compliant with the prevailing industry specifications. The aerospace and defense sector, automobile industries, nuclear industry, furniture manufacturers, and the HVAC sector are increasingly opting for forming methods other than metal stamping. These methods are capable of producing just about any part or component that one might expect to achieve through metal stamping.