Need some steel pressed, bent, punched, or stretched? If you’re building anything mechanical with metal components, there’s a good chance you’ll need a metal stamping machine.

Metal stamping can be as simple as stamping letters for jewelry, or as complex as crafting parts for NASA space missions. Here is your quick guide to metal stamping machines and what they can do for you.

What is a Metal Stamping Machine?

In simple terms, a metal stamping machine presses sheet metal into shapes. A die determines the shapes that will form and mold blank sheets. Sometimes called pressing, it is typically a cheaper way to produce industrial components for either long or short production runs.

In its most basic form, pressed metal can be commonly found in metal stamped jewelry (think of those little letters for stamping jewelry). Industries like automobiles, aviation, and space travel, as well as power tools and HVAC use more complex parts. Stamping is often combined with other processes like bending, embossing, punching, and more.

Bending and Flanging

Bending is exactly what it sounds like. A piece of metal bends to the desired angle using an angled die. Meanwhile, flanging is a form of bending that creates a more complex curved or flared bend in the metal and requires a specialized die.

Blanking, Punching, and Stretching

Blanking creates blank sheets of metal used on projects. Punching punctures holes in the metal, similar to what you might find on grate or grill covers. Stretching stretches the metal to create ultra-smooth surfaces.

Coining, Embossing, and Engraving

Coining indents complex designs into metal like in coin making. Similar to coining, embossing makes simpler indentations to create a design. Meanwhile, engraving removes material by carving out patterns.

What Does it Do?

Metal stamping machines operate in one of three ways: hydraulic, mechanical, or servo powered. Hydraulic presses using the power of water pressure, while mechanical is motor-driven. Servo machines are also motor-driven but create more complex patterns by varying the pressure at different parts of the metal.

Before any parts can be tooled, the die designs must be engineered to exact specifications. Typically, an engineering firm uses 3D modeling software to create dies for your project.

Prototypes are then built to reduce the risk of manufacturing parts that don’t work.

Once your dyes are created and tested, they’re loaded into your metal stamping machine to begin the production of your product.

Aluminum, brass, copper, and steel can all be fed into the stamping machine either automatically, or by hand. An automatic feeder is usually a separate machine.

Do I Need My Own Machine?

Machines are large and take up a lot of space. If you are building your manufacturing process from the ground up, you might want to look into getting previously owned equipment.

One of the largest suppliers of used metal stamping machines, also has an excellent informative blog. It’s a good idea to learn as much ahead of time before deciding what kind of metal stamping machine your project needs. You might not want to open a factory if you’re only metal stamping jewelry.