Determining the right manufacturing process and planning out the target pricing of components for an assembly are critical steps in developing a successful and profitable product. Engineers and procurement managers working on high volume projects frequently ask “How much does metal stamping cost?” when they are considering the best way to make their component. This is not a simple question to answer. Metal Stamping pricing consists of the investment in the tooling die, the material required for the part, the overall complexity of the part design, QC and documentation requirements, estimated annual usage (EAU) or part volume, and shipping costs. All of these factors combine to provide the total price per part of your components.
The first influence on the price of metal stamping is the tooling or die to make the actual parts. Metal stamping is a process that uses a custom designed and manufactured die that is one of a kind for your parts. That die is loaded into a press and has material fed into it as it strikes the dies producing the features of your part. This process is used to produce a high volume of quality parts in a much shorter period of time than traditional machining or other fabrication processes. For this reason metal stamping should not be considered for prototype or low volume production runs. The investment in the tooling itself will far exceed the cost of traditional machining or fabricating the parts. However, when you reach the 10,000+ part per month threshold it becomes much more economical to invest in a die to produce these parts. Your estimated annual usage (EAU) and material selection will dictate the tool steel grade used in your die. The higher quality grade tool steel, the more expensive your die will be.
Dies are designed to cut and form material into a desired shape or profile with additional features as necessary. Design engineers must evaluate the geometry and features of your part to determine the best way to produce the desired piece. Sometimes all of the features of your component can be produced within a single die that only requires one strike to form the desired part. Other times the design may be too complex to create all of the different features in one strike – which means you need to develop multiple dies to create the features using progressive die stamping. Experienced tool and die designers specialize in determining the optimal order in which the features need to be produced for the most efficient process and highest quality parts.
When it comes to tooling and dies, you get what you pay for. Dies manufactured in the Far East tend to be made from lower quality steel and wear out or introduce defects or poor quality parts sooner in their lifecycle. Many North American metal stamping companies will not accept the transfer of tooling or dies from the Far East into their shops because they cannot be maintained to produce quality parts at the volume required. Tooling and dies are the most critical investment when it comes to metal stamping parts and the long term price per part. Investing in tooling and dies made in the USA provides the highest quality tool steel which delivers the most repeatable quality for your parts. Dies from Manor Tool are guaranteed to 1,000,000+ strikes before needing maintenance to continue delivering the same quality parts. Do not try to cut costs on tooling and die design and manufacturing. This will be your initial investment in scaling the production of your parts and it is the most critical. Invest appropriately for now and into the future.
Material selection is the second factor that will impact the cost of your metal stamped part. While you cannot control the price swings that your material may experience in the market, you can control your selection. Material composition, thickness and width will drive the price of your parts for as long as you stamp them. Do not over design your part by selecting a material or thickness of the strip that you may not need. Doing Finite Element Analysis of your part to determine the needs for your design allows you to virtually test the performance of your component with just a 3D model. Test different material grades as well as thicknesses to determine your optimal configuration. The design engineers at your metal stamping partner will also be able to advise you on different options for material and thickness that can work with your design. Leverage their expertise to impact the price of your parts in a positive way.
You designed your part to perform a job in your assembly – but there are probably multiple different ways for it to perform that job and still be successful. When designing parts for metal stamping it is important to think about the complexity of the tooling required and the wear each strike will put on the die. For this reason it is always best to work with the Design For Manufacturability (DFM) team at your metal stamping supplier. They can provide helpful tips to reduce the cost of the part and the wear on the die while still delivering the form fit and function you need from the component. Some tips for designing parts that will be metal stamped are:
Your part will be cut, bent, sheared, notched, punched, and even have holes tapped as it goes through the stamping process. Make sure you need every feature. While it might be aesthetically pleasing, it could cost a heck of a lot more if you kept the component functional. Each feature adds complexity and cost to the die, makes the die wear out faster and cost you more in maintenance. You have complete and total control over your design. Leverage this to control the cost of your metal stamped parts.
The primary advantages of metal stamping parts are high volume production, low cycle times, and repeatable precision quality.
Metal stamping lends itself to continuous or lights out manufacturing, meaning the process can run and be successful without human interaction. The only limitation on producing metal stamping parts in high volume in a single run, is the maximum size of the material coil feeding the press. Each run of your parts obviously costs money to produce, but the more parts you run through a high quality die, the lower your overall per part cost. Order your parts in the highest quantity possible to reduce your overall costs.
Factoring in the per part price impact of suppliers with different capacity capabilities and shipping options can be one of the most confusing parts of the overall metal stamping pricing equation. While international suppliers may offer what appear to be lower per part prices for metal stamping – the cost of troubleshooting production issues, low quality die maintenance, cost of shipping containers, delays at the ports, and geo-political impacts can cause havoc on your margin. The best way to control the pricing of your metal stamped parts is to find a domestic supplier and work out the costs for Just-In-Time and bulk orders. Reducing the risk in your supply chain by keeping it close to your assembly location can pay off over the life of your product.
While it is not easy to give a simple answer to the question of “How Much Does Metal Stamping Cost?”, the engineering and production team at Manor tool can help you design your tooling, select material, design your part, optimize for your EAU, and find the best shipping options to serve your needs. Contact our engineering team today to get started on your metal stamping project.
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