When Should a Sheet Metal Fabrication Be Transitioned Into a Metal Stamping?

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If your company is currently using sheet metal fabrications for production, there may be a cost advantage to transitioning them into metal stampings. Chirch Global® Manufacturing, LLC makes both sheet metal fabrications and metal stampings for global customers and shares key points to examine before considering a transition.

Just about any metal fabricated component can be turned into a metal stamping; building a die just depends on how quickly you need the pay back on investment.

Chrich Global Manufacturing is a manufacturer of both sheet metal fabrications and metal stampings based in Illinois, and they know every company has to be cost competitive in order to grow their top line. For companies that are fabricating sheet metal components, a large cost involved with manufacturing is the labor that goes into each and every one of their parts. Whether the fabrication needs to have holes tapped or features need to be formed, the labor adds up quickly across each and every production run.

One way to eliminate a large amount of labor cost is to transition a sheet metal fabrication into a metal stamping. On most long production runs, a stamping will generally be more cost effective, but it’s usually at a much larger up front cost. Tooling for even the most simple of parts is never easy to pass through, and more extensive tool builds can be major investments that customers might not be willing to take on.

So when does it make the most sense to transition a sheet metal fabrication into a metal stamping? Each and every part is different, but here is a list of general guidelines to consider before seeing if tooling up may be right for you:

Size of the Parts:

The larger the part, the larger the tooling costs. As the material thickness and size get larger, the raw material and tonnage requirements to make these parts can get exceedingly high. If your parts are small, like a precision metal stamping, tooling up for these may not be a very expensive undertaking. However, if your parts are much larger, like a heavy gauge metal stamping, you’re going to need a lot of volume to pay back the large tooling costs that will go into making a die for your parts.

Volume of Parts:

Low to Mid Volume runs are typically best suited for metal fabrication in punch turret or laser, as the tooling costs are low and the added manufacturing costs are tolerable. However, as volumes increase, the additional manufacturing costs of labor and overhead could be a significant cost, especially over the life of a part. Small parts you can hold in the palm of your hand could quickly pay back tooling over 10,000 pieces, where larger parts (e.g. brackets) may need volumes of 30,000 or more to justify switching. It’s fairly safe to say if you are using 50,000 or more of a part in a year, you should look into how tooling up can save money.

Complexity of Parts:

The complexity of a part can work both for you and against you when deciding if you should transition your sheet metal fabrication into a metal stamping. The more complex a part is, the more a die will save you. Building that die will just be much more expensive than if it were a simple part. Some secondary operations, such as a tapped hole, can be built right into a die.

Typically, more complex features are only built in if volumes are high enough to justify the expense. If you only have an annual volume of 10,000 pieces, it would save more to just stamp a flat blank, and manually add forms. Even if you had 20,000 pieces with a threaded hole, doing that as a secondary operation may still pay out compared to having to spend $25,000 to add an in-die tapping unit.

Material Type:

If you can run a part strip to width in a die, it will always have less scrap than if you had to nest it in a sheet, even with the best utilization process. If you are looking at stainless steel, or more expensive copper parts, the material savings can add up quickly if you can make your sheet metal fabricated part as a metal stamped part. Material pricing will always be a large cost of manufacturing, and this needs to be watched closely.

In conclusion, just about any metal fabricated component can be turned into a metal stamping; building a die just depends on how quickly you need the pay back on your investment. If you’re curious as to whether or not your part would be a good candidate for a die build, visit Chirch Global Manufacturing at http://www.ChirchMfg.com for more information.


About the Company:

Chirch Global® Manufacturing, LLC is one of fourteen companies that make up the Chirch Global Manufacturing Network. With a wide variety of manufacturing solutions available, this Network can be a single source service provider for just about any type of manufactured parts or assemblies you may need. Learn more at http://www.ChirchNetwork.com.

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Jeremy Hahn
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