Stamping dies are special precision tools that cut and form sheet metal into desired shapes for part production. The types of metal die stamping techniques have diversified over the years to meet the demands of ever-changing markets. If you’re considering purchasing precision stamped parts, it’s essential to understand the techniques available and which to choose for your project. Here, we’ll discuss transfer die vs. progressive die stamping and how to determine which method is best for specific applications.
Progressive Die Stamping
Progressive die stamping involves moving parts through a “progressive” series of stamping stations within a single machine. This is one of the most common means of part production due to its speed and relatively low cost of production.
In a progressive die stamping process, a coil of metal is fed into the machine. That metal strip moves through the machine and into a series of stamping stations. Each station alters the strip in a certain way before it moves on to the next station. This process continues until the part is complete. After the part is finished, it is finally separated from the strip.
Because each part is attached to the metal strip throughout the formation process, the precision of this strip is imperative. If the strip is offset by a fraction of an inch, all the parts will be ruined. Typically, this is avoided through the use of pre-pierced holes in the strip. Conical pilots in the machine are inserted into these holes to hold the strip in place as it progresses through the machine.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Progressive Die Stamping
Progressive die stamping offers several unique benefits, including:
- High speed: Products can be produced at high speed due to the automated nature of the process.
- Low labor: Progressive die stamping machines only require one operator for supervision.
- Minimal scrap: Progressive die stamping uses continuous metal strips, leaving behind minimal scrap waste.
- Repeatability: Progressive die stamping machines can produce massive quantities without degrading quality, meaning they offer excellent repeatability with tight tolerances.
- Cost per part: The speed, repeatability and reduced labor involved in progressive die stamping mean that parts can be produced at a low cost per part.
While these benefits present significant advantages to certain types of production, there are drawbacks to progressive die stamping. Some of the disadvantages of this method include:
- Limited operations: Certain types of operations can’t be performed with progressive die stamping. Adding certain features like cutouts, ribs or threading may require secondary manufacturing processes, which can add to production costs.
- Part limitations: Progressive die stamping requires that parts be run on a continuous feed. This means that parts cannot be manipulated freely or independently without additional manufacturing steps.
- Permanence: Progressive die stamping setups must be configured for each project, and reconfiguring the setup for new projects can take significant time. This makes it difficult to switch between projects quickly.
- Expense: Progressive die systems typically cost more than transfer die systems.
Transfer Die Stamping
Transfer die stamping is similar to progressive die stamping in that a part undergoes one or more processes in sequence until it is completed. There are several significant differences between the processes, however. First, in a transfer die stamping process, the part is free of a metal strip. Parts undergo the transfer die stamping process individually.
Additionally, transfer die stamping may occur across multiple presses or using a single press. In traditional processes, individual parts are transferred from one press to the next by hand or using an automated mechanical transport system. Newer automated presses switch out tools in sequence, allowing one press to perform multiple processes for a single stationary part.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Transfer Die Stamping
Transfer die stamping presents significant advantages for various types of projects. Some of these advantages of transfer die stamping include:
- Adjustable parts: Transfer die stamping requires a part to be free from a metal strip. This allows the part to be moved around in a free state, allowing it to be manipulated at various angles.
- Versatility: Transfer die stamping allows for a wider range of operations that can facilitate part features like cutouts, holes, ribs, threading and knurls.
- Large part production speed: Transfer die stamping systems allow large parts to be handled and formed at rapid speeds.
While more versatile and often more economical, transfer die stamping does have a few disadvantages. These include the following:
- Size costs: While transfer die stamping can be used to produce smaller parts, it is less cost-effective than progressive die stamping.
- Scalability: Transfer die stamping can be automated, but it is generally most cost-effective for short production runs.
Applications of Transfer Die vs. Progressive Die Stamping
Both progressive and transfer die stamping are applicable to a range of industries from automotive to consumer electronics. Progressive and transfer die stamping can be used on similar types of base materials. Common and specialized materials that can go through both processes include:
- Various grades and types of steel
- Noble metals
- Certain non-metallic materials
The primary difference in application between the two die stamping processes is in quantity and size. Progressive die stamping is ideal for applications that require large quantities of small parts. Transfer die stamping is best used for large parts that need to undergo multiple processes, such as shells, frames and structural components.
How to Choose a Die Stamping Process
Choosing between progressive die stamping and transfer die stamping comes down to the specific part at hand. This can be narrowed down to three specific factors:
- Part intricacy: Most basic part features can be achieved by either progressive die or transfer die stamping processes. However, certain traits, such as threading, cutouts or ribs, cannot be produced using progressive die stamping procedures. If you use a progressive die stamping procedure for these parts, you’ll need to add secondary manufacturing steps to create these features. In these situations, it is typically more cost-effective to use a transfer die stamping procedure since this process can achieve such details.
- Part size: Progressive die stamping is able to produce small to large size parts, though it is best suited to producing smaller parts. Transfer die stamping is best suited for the production of large parts.
- Part quantity: Progressive die stamping is an excellent choice for producing large quantities of product at high speed. Transfer die stamping is more suited for shorter runs and lower quantities of product.
If you’re unsure which type of stamping process will work best for your project, work with your manufacturing company to go over the details of your project. They’ll help you determine the best die stamping process to achieve your goals with the best cost-efficiency.
Choose Standard Die International for Your Die Stamping Needs
If you’re looking for transfer die or progressive die stamping services, look no further than Standard Die International. For over 50 years, we’ve been providing precision drawing and stamping services to customers across a range of industries, from automotive and aircraft to the electrical and medical industries. As a family-owned and operated company, our team puts our customers first and focuses on providing the best quality products possible.
Contact Standard Die International today to find out more about how we can help you with precision metal die stamping services.