There have been notable technological advancements in the metal stamping niche. Currently, more advancements are happening rapidly than in the past, bringing more complex processes. They include the following.
1. Hot Forming
It’s one of the best examples of technological advancements in the metal stamping niche. Now you can create some automotive parts using boron steel sheet metal at very high temperatures (about 900 degrees Celsius). It is done in a die that forms and quenches the stamping thus heat-treating the already formed part.
Compared to deep-drawing, hot forming is modern and completely different. There is no use of a blank holder. Instead, it is replaced with special clamping units often installed to hold the material in position and prevent wrinkles from forming.
To facilitate the quenching process, cooling lines are often placed close to the die surface. It involves the use of special die steels featuring high rates of heat transfer and a lot of strength. To facilitate part removal, strong ejector systems have been designed and built effectively.
These are some of the critical features that should be noted when designing and building hot forming dies. The process of hot forming is a great accomplishment, especially since most die engineers or makers were never trained in this type of technology.
2. Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS)
Notable advancements in steel technology have brought about high tensile strength materials such as AHSS. Besides hot-forming boron-based materials, these others are cold-formed using press lines and stamping dies at room temperature. They surpass the tensile strength of traditional high-strength low alloy steel by at least 2 or 3 times. They have brought about new demands in the tooling and older press lines.
Currently, there is a 3rd generation of AHSS materials still under development. Their tensile strength is similar to the hot-formed stampings. Also, their ductility is enough to allow cold-forming at room temperature. They are bound to push the existing press lines past their capacity.
3. Aluminium Alloys
Besides steel, there are other metals changing the metal stamping process considerably. In the last decade alone, aluminium alloys have been incorporated for use as sheet metal in the transportation industry.
If you are working with any unfamiliar alloys, you might have some troubles working with aluminium stampings. Note that new alloys are currently under development for hot-forming applications with ultra-high strength.
The existing alloys are being warm-formed while others are super-plastically deformed. Some of the common alloys have been refined to allow better cold-forming benefits. You need to know the notable differences and demerits between the available aluminum alloys and their tempers. That way, you can provide the die designer and process engineer with the best opportunities for success.
There are also notable advances in lubricants, their application methods and thickness measurement. With the presence of 3rd generation AHSS materials and the complete extinction of chlorinated paraffin in the near future, these advancements are exceptional.
Currently, the stamping dies go through a lot of temperatures, stresses, vibrations, shock and chemical attacks. There are bound to be some process failures. Engineered surface coatings, heat-treating methods and tooling chemistry are being improved to meet these demands coming from the stamping dies.
5. Carbide Materials
If there are long production runs, carbide materials are the best choices for metal stamping. They feature very high compressive strength, retain their hardness values at the highest temperatures and resist deflection.
These features play a huge role in high-speed cutting, forming and punching applications. Tungsten carbide punches are useful for processes such as creating small-diameter holes in tough and hard materials.
6. Double-Sided Incremental Sheet Metal Forming
It’s also a new and emerging metal forming process. It’s a new manufacturing process that relies on 2 generic tools for the manipulation of sheet metal. That way, it’s easy to create free-form parts without utilizing dies.
This new metal forming process will reduce the cycle time of creating a product from months or weeks to a few days or hours. It’s faster and more accurate. The digital world has also kept the same pace by providing the best and most precise sheet metal formability analysis.
There are also improvements in responses to the variations in the metal stamping process and spring-back prediction. Other notable changes include simulating programmable servo-press slides together with servo-driven transfer system to improve the strokes per minute.
Don’t forget about optical scanning technology involving blue light or white light scanners to digitize parts and dies produced to assess and modify the tooling appropriately. Finally, there is morphing of solutions to allow repeatable and rapid development of compensated die surfaces among many more.