To convert sheet metal into various shapes, sizes, and dimensions as per requirement, the stamping die plays a crucial role. At a generic level, sheet metal stamping dies are regarded as mere cutting or forming tools. But with the advent of progressive dies, transfer dies, and compound dies, their functionality has become complex and multi-faceted.
Any sheet metal dies manufacturer has to ensure that the dies are made with razor-sharp accuracy. Otherwise, it will hinder the stamping operations, yield unnecessary metal scrap, and adversely affect the quality of the final product.
Understanding the Sheet Metal Die Manufacturing Process
Precision dies that can perform both cutting and forming operations simultaneously are the most used variants today. When complex metallic components need to be produced in large quantities within a short deadline, precision die stamping is the right approach. For large metal parts with comparatively lesser finesse, the use of transfer dies is common. Here, a transfer press shifts the metal sheet from one operational stage to the next, till the final product is produced. Compound dies use multiple simple/single feature dies in an assembly line. Here is a sequence of the die manufacturing process followed by any leading sheet metal die manufacturer today: –
- Based on the type of die and its function, designing a relevant stamp for it is the prerequisite. Using CAD and other 3D designing software is the fastest and most efficient route to do this.
- Once the design is finalized, the casting process of the die begins. Die manufacturing machines are used in this process. The machine settings need to be attuned exactly as per the die specifications and thickness required.
- The die material has to be chosen based on its high tensile strength and non-reactivity. Dies are subjected to extreme wear and tear during the metal stamping operation. So, the material chosen needs to withstand this procedure.
- Nano-stamping and micro-stamping of dies are carried out, based on the detailed specifications of the metal component needed. Apart from stamping tolerance, stamping clearance is also an important consideration. This refers to the gap available between the metal part and the die during stamping.
Challenges dealt by a Sheet Metal Dies Manufacturer
In the sheet metal die manufacturing process described above, there can be several roadblocks such as: –
- Springback Effect– As the name suggests, this refers to the sheet metal springing back owing to the elastic release. This happens when the bending force subjected to the sheet metal during metal forming is halted. The resulting geometrical changes can affect the final product.
- Thinning/Thickening of Sheet Metal– Like the springback effect, the natural tendency of metal sheets to alter in thickness during forming is a major challenge.
- Die Surface Variation- When the die surface has to be reworked manually, it can prove to be a complicated exercise. Grinding out is both time-consuming and tedious.
- Die and Press Stiffness- Calculating the deflection and clearance between the die and the press have to be precision-based. Else, it will lead to die and press stiffness during the operation.
Ensuring Seamless Die Manufacturing
Thanks to AI and modern-day engineering prowess, most of the aforementioned challenges have practical solutions. Digitization has become the cornerstone for any competent sheet metal dies manufacturer today. Whether it is compensating for spring back, surface variation, stiffness, or thickening, digitization is the best way to prevent production outages. Even wear and tear or die breakages can be easily dealt with with the 3-D enabled die inserts. The painstaking manual process has become obsolete today. An amalgamation of mechanical engineering prowess with AI-led algorithms ensures fool-proof die manufacturing, ruling out all possible errors. Even during trial runs, virtual assembling comes in handy to apprehend any possible collisions and errors well in advance. So by the time you are commencing the actual project, you are well prepared.
If you are collaborating with a sheet metal dies manufacturer, don’t forget to ask them about their die manufacturing processes. Very often, in our quest for cost-effective metal parts, we don’t enquire enough about the quality and longevity of the parts. Certified and well-experienced die manufacturers follow the latest best practices for top-notch parts manufacturing. This in turn ensures optimal standards and durability of the required metal parts. Remember, the finesse and with which dies are manufactured is directly proportional to the accuracy of the final product.