Metal Pressing or Fabrication: Which Process is Best Suited to your Requirements?
Metals are highly versatile materials that can be shaped and processed using a wide range of different methods. Depending on what you want to do, your primary options are metal pressing and metal fabrication.
Metal pressing, also called metal stamping, primarily encompasses processes such as embossing, bending and blanking. We use a machine press, with electronically controlled pneumatic and mechanical systems. Each part is pressed into shape, often without the use of heat.
Metal fabrication, on the other hand, focuses on cutting, drilling, welding and other ways of producing metal components. Our plasma and laser cutting processes, for example, are a type of metal fabrication.
Winward Engineering offers both metal pressings and metal fabrication.
Metal pressing is a cost-effective choice for when you need to produce a medium to high volume of parts. For roll feed presswork, sheet metal or coil stock runs through the machine, where a pneumatic stamping system forms it into the desired shape.
Metal pressing also produces highly precise shapes through stamping, resulting in a uniform design throughout. It also minimises material wastage and produces less scrap than metal fabrication.
One of the disadvantages of metal pressing is that you will need to manufacture the tooling first before you can start fabricating items. This means that there will be some downtime before you go into production. It is also not ideal for producing small runs of an item.
Metal fabrication, such as our laser cutting processes, offers a greater degree of flexibility. Since the raw materials are cut instead of stamped, you can go into production as soon as you have a design available. You can also adjust the finished part with each subsequent production, making it ideal for prototyping and for producing smaller runs of components.
The disadvantage of metal fabrication, however, is that it is generally more labour intensive than pressing. This leads to a higher cost per piece. It may also be difficult to work with odd shaped or complex parts, which will still require the use of a pressing machine.
What Should You Use?
Both metal pressing and fabrication have their advantages and disadvantages. The process you choose will depend on a number of factors:
First off, you need to consider your lead times — how soon do you need a part? Will you be producing a prototype of it? Generally, metal fabrication is best for prototyping, especially if you need to test a great number of different parts before going into full production. Metal pressing requires custom tooling, so it is therefore not suited for rush jobs unless the design already exists.
Next, you have to consider the volume of parts that you plan to produce. If you have a high volume of parts that require a high degree of repeatability, you may be better off with metal pressing.
No matter what you choose, always pick the process that increases the efficiency of your project.
Still unsure of the process best suited to your needs? Contact Winward Engineering Ltd., and we will be happy to provide you with the best recommendation suited to your project.