Getting to know the sheet metal manufacturing industry can be a bit of a confusing process. There are a lot of terms and processes that come naturally to those of us who've been in the industry a long time. But, for those of you who are just getting started, this little glossary should help.
Basic Metal Manufacturing Terms
These terms will help you get familiar with the sheet metal manufacturing process in an easy, accessible way.
Metal Fabrication is a group of processes that uses various machines to add value to metal sheets and plates. The processes include: shearing, laser cutting, CNC turret punching, bending shapes using CNC controlled press brakes, and assembling. The assembly of different parts or components is completed by spot welding, MIG and TIG welding, and in some cases fastening with rivets and other pieces of hardware. Hardware is added to parts with a machine that presses various pieces of hardware into holes that were cut and punched during the laser cutting and turret punching stages.
The term "short-run stampings" is used to describe a process for making metal parts from a unique tooling method. A true short run metal stamping facility will normally use insert tooling that fit into master die sets and fixtures. This is a very economical way to build hard tooling. Most of the times it is used for parts that have or short product life and/or the quantity per year cannot justify a long run stamping tool.
Long-run stamping, also known as progressive stamping, is a faster, more efficient method of manufacturing metal components. With progressive stamping, all of those separate steps and single-hits are combined into a single die set and press. These dies are built with the intention of producing large amount of parts over a long product life cycle. With long-run stamping, a component will have a custom-made tool which takes raw material to a completed part over a series of progressions
Computer-aided design, CAD for short, is the software that's used by engineers, drafters, artists, and others to create 2D and 3D drawings. The software makes it possible to create precision drawings and technical illustrations.
Blanking is the process of preparing a metal workpiece for manufacturing. Metal product typically arrives in large stock pieces which are cut or punched into workable metal pieces. Workable metal pieces are known as "blanks."
Stamping is a broad term within sheet metal manufacturing. Basically, anytime a tool or die is used to transform sheet metal into a new shape it has been stamped.
Put simply, a 3D model of a metal component would be drawn using CAD software.