Today’s short-run metal stamping process, which we refer to as our Specialization and Standardization Process, uses a method of making tools and molds using inserts in master holders and fixtures instead of conventional hard die sets. This tooling process cuts down on both lead times and tooling costs. With the use of this method, lead times can usually be reduced from 5-10 weeks to 3-4 weeks. By using inserts instead of full dies, an increase in flexibility is realized for original and future design changes.
Knowing that there are processes in place to ensure that a stamped prototype can be completed in a 3-4 week period is reassuring; however, what other factors come into play in order to make certain that the 3-4 weeks is realistic?
The first and most important focus is to spend the proper time and due diligence prior to commencing work with a manufacturer. The decision to manufacture parts using either metal stamping or other fabrication techniques is an important decision. This decision ultimately affects the design, quality, timing and cost of the metal components to be produced.
Critical decisions on manufacturing parts through the use of short-run metal stamping must balance a complex set of priorities, which determine the level of efficiency for production. One must look at the design of the part, the prototyping and production planning, short- and long-term costs, and the service and complete product lifecycle into the manufacturing of the part from drawing to delivery. To do this, you must be fully prepared to discuss the critical design questions with the experts within the design process and at the manufacturing plant. If you are not prepared to do this and did not conduct your due diligence prior to initiating discussions, then you can expect delays and restarts to plague the entire process.
Consider working with companies that have experience and capabilities in both stamping and other types of fabrication. Stamping companies with abilities in advanced production techniques, as well as prototype design services or simulation software, have a great advantage. They can prove out complex designs and concepts before investing in dedicated tooling. These capabilities will prove to be an additional benefit. By choosing a company with these capabilities, ultimately you will have a partner that can not only deliver your requirements, but also shorten lead times, and manage costs.
To read more on this topic, download our free eBook, “The Pathway to Completing Your Metal Stamped Prototype in 3-4 Weeks.”