How Much Does Sheet Metal Stamping Cost?
When looking for a manufacturer to do your sheet metal stamping, we know one of the first things you will wonder about is how much it’s going to cost. As far as Intran is concerned, the best way to know what sheet metal stamping will cost is to contact us for a quote. We’ll make it easy (we promise).
However, if you’re not ready to quote things out, this article highlights five factors that largely determine the cost of sheet metal stamping. And if you’re really a beginner and are unfamiliar with sheet stamping altogether, this Intran article may be a better place to begin.
What type of metal?
Steel is available in numerous thicknesses, with a large variety of stock options. Selecting a stock option may reduce your costs, even if the material isn’t quite what your design team spec’d out. Also, when considering material costs, a good rule of the thumb is the brighter the finish, the more expensive the metal.
The more common steel grades are also more readily available. They come in a variety of gauge thicknesses and tolerances, so they’re applicable to many sheet stamping procedures. Steel mills can do made-to-order shipments to your manufacturer, but they often have a minimum order. Shopping steel warehouses is more economical option if you aren’t producing something that requires a truckload of steel rolls. You increase the chances of finding the best grade in an amount suited to your project.
What are corrosion considerations?
Steel can rust, so if your product will be exposed to water, you need to protect it. There are corrosion protection procedures, such as galvanizing, that will offer protection but add to your overall cost. Another option is choosing a different metal.
Steel is usually the most economical choice, but your project may be a good match for aluminum or another metal. Depending on the project, nickel silver, copper, and other metals might be a better choice.
If you already have a design engineering team, you may want your chosen manufacturer’s engineering experts to meet with them prior to production. It’s a great opportunity to discuss possible alternate materials and other ways to reduce costs.
2. Part Tolerances
Because stamping involves extreme pressure on metal to produce formations of any shape and size, tolerances are extremely important. The tighter the tolerance, the higher the cost. But just like with material selection, there are some tricks that can reduce stamping costs.
Here are some to consider:
- To prevent breakage and waste, your manufacturer may suggest tumbling or deburring before forming
- Hole diameters should be equal to or greater than the metal stock’s thickness. Smaller holes require drilling and removing the burr, which adds to expense
- If your part will have bends, determine the inside height (H) compared to the material thickness (T) plus the required bend radius (R) for economical tooling and production. (This is different than tube bending. You can find info about that here.
3. Quality Control
It costs money to have your manufacturing company conduct quality assurance (QA), and it costs money to do QA internally. These costs should be considered when you’re reviewing manufacturing bids, as some manufacturers offer limited QA to reduce their bid…but all this does is transfer QA costs from the manufacturer to your company.
Likewise, poor quality control and assurance can lead to increased warranty and service costs later. If saving a few pennies today increases warranty and service costs by a multiple, it’s a bad trade. Some more items to consider:
- Choose a manufacturer with on-site engineers and a stringent quality control process in place
- Make sure quality inspections begin with the material and continue through each step of production
- If stamped products are subject to automated inspections as well as human inspections, your company’s future costs will be greatly reduced
- Press and assembly audits during the manufacturing process prevents future warranty and service charges for your company
Packaging and shipping finished parts is surprisingly expensive, especially if the part is going to make a transoceanic voyage after production.
Consider the following statistics from U.S Department of Commerce:
- The average travel time for a container vessel from Asia to the U.S. is between two weeks and a month.
- Documentation, customs clearance, handling, and inland shipping can add 17 to 33 days to the total shipping time from most emerging market regions, and another 6 days of transit time once goods reach the United States.
But the true cost of shipping and packaging doesn’t just include the price to get one part from point A to point B. There are also cash flow costs to consider, especially if you’ve got a container full of stamped metal parts in transit for 8 weeks after you pay for it.
Cash flow is also a consideration when talking about order size. When orders are produced overseas, the minimum order size is usually a standard cargo container, so this another factor to think about if your run will be lower volume.
Shipping from a Mexican plant to the US or Canada can be done as quickly as one day and there’s no problem with shipping large quantities or just one pallet. This reduces costs substantially – there’s less money tied up in transit, increasing efficiencies dramatically.
Last but not least, we come to the biggest determining factor in sheet metal part cost: volume. While higher volumes always have lower costs, there are situations where low volume stamped sheet metal makes sense.
When shopping for bids, talk with the manufacturer about any alternative processes used to reduce costs for lower volume runs. Laser cutting with secondary operations or water jet cutters may be more economic options. The right manufacturing partner will offer you options to suit the volume needed.
Again, the best way to get an estimate of your sheet metal stamping costs is to contact us. However, these five factors should help anyone in the early stages of estimating.
What’s more, when comparing bids, it’s important to pay attention to each of these considerations…there’s nothing more expensive than a ‘cheap’ bid that doesn’t include all your requirements.