Two qualities of automotive parts have stood the test of time. The lighter and stronger the materials used for making a part, the better. Considering the integrity of the automobile as a whole, the quest for the right mix of metals for each particular component is ongoing. The process most relied upon for the manufacture of parts nowadays is die stamping because of its mass production advantage. Also known as pressing, this is the process of stamping shapes from sheets of metal.
High Strength Steels
Towards the end of the 1900s, increasing awareness of the human impact on our planet sped up the search for ways to reduce our energy use. This was most apparent in the automotive parts industry. Safety regulations became stricter. People increasingly want cars that are more environmentally friendly and that operate more cost effectively. Advanced high strength steels developed for the automotive industry are changing the way cars are made.
Steel versus Aluminum
There is constant debate in the automotive industry about whether to use aluminum or steel in the production of automotive parts. Essentially this is a quest for finding material strong enough to be safe for use in automobiles that is formable and cost effective. Most of the top car manufacturers are opting for decisions of which material to be used being made on a part by part basis.
History of Die Stamping
Dating back to 2000BC, with stone-age man beating iron with a hammer to make tools with heated metal resting on a bed or bolster, the idea of stamping metals is not new. Die stamping was first used to produce bicycle parts in the 1890s. Although die stamping produced parts with less durability than traditional forging, there was advantage in using machines to manufacture automotive parts more quickly. As demand for motor vehicles grew, faster production methods were welcomed.
A variety of metalworking methods are incorporated into the die stamping manufacture of automotive parts. Beginning with simple methods like bending the metal along straight lines, there are nine other ways machines are working with metal during the stamping process. Flanging, embossing, blanking, coining, deep drawing, stretching, ironing, curling and hemming each allow progressively more detailed parts to be made.
Improving Automotive Parts Manufacturing
Along with developing steel sheets for die stamping that are thinner and more lightweight than ever while having increased strength, machining is becoming more technologically advanced. Modern control systems and computer aided design and machining along with improved mechanisms for spot-welding, riveting and door-latch making are transforming the automotive parts manufacturing process.
Computers are an integral part of numerical control at play in today's component design and machining systems. Along with advances in automation using computer aided manufacturing, automotive parts can be more productively and cost-effectively produced than ever before. The precision possible through die stamping methods used in automotive part manufacturing going to this millennium is improving productivity and lowering environmental impact.