Deep Drawn Sheet Metal: The Intricate Process Of Creating Complex Metal Shapes

deep drawing technology

Metal is one of the most flexible materials in the world at the moment. And, the material’s versatility in operation makes that point pretty clear. However, for it to also be as flexible as you need, it is important for you to be able to shape it as you want. 

Amongst the many shaping processes available, the deep drawing process is one of the most popular. The process’s application can be complex, but it provides a great deal of benefits across the board. Let’s take a look at deep draw stamping and what you need to know about it. 

Deep Drawing: A Spotlight On The Metal Forming Process

stampings

To begin with, let’s take a look at the general overview of the deep drawn process. 

In general, deep drawing operates as a process of metal forming where the end goal is to create intricate parts with fine details. These could be boxes, cylinders, or more – however, the objective is to create materials with greater depths than their width or diameter. 

Over the years, deep drawn metal stamping has been used to create different materials – from vehicle parts to consumer goods and more. We’ll look into that later. However, the objective here is to make sure that every deep drawn breath is lower than the material’s depth itself. 

With deep drawing, you take a metal sheet piece and place it over a cavity-included die. Of course, it is worth noting that this metal could be any variant – so, just as there is the aluminum deep drawing process, it can also be applied to things like steel and copper. At the end of the day, deep drawn stainless steel and deep drawn aluminum will seem quite similar; but, the material differences between the metal variants themselves should see them easily distinguished. 

Most metallurgists call this process “deep drawing” because the sheet is directly drawn into the die. This process creates a component that is much deeper than its initial shape – which is flat. You should note that the achieved depth levels will depend on factors such as the material’s initial ductility, the sheet’s thickness, and the punch and the die’s characteristics. 

Types Of Deep Drawn

Like many other industrial processes, deep drawing comes in different parts and variations. And, understanding them will help you understand which might work for you in a specific situation. 

Each of the deep forming techniques come with their benefits and drawbacks, as well as suitable material options. You want to choose the appropriate option for you based on the part complexity, production volume, and even the cost considerations. 

Nevertheless, some of the most prominent deep draw stamping types include: 

  • Conventional Deep Drawing: Also known as simple deep drawing, this process involves the placement of a flat metal sheet over a die that has a cavity. The die will already be shaped like the desired final part shape, and a punch will be used to push the sheet into it, causing a seamless metal flow that eventually causes it to take the shape of the die. 
  • Progressive Deep Drawing: In this variant, you have different dies that are used to gradually form the desired part. The blank goes through different stations, with each of them performing a particulate forming operation. This technique is especially adequate when it comes to making complex shapes that need different firming steps. 
  • Tandem Deep Drawing: This variant is quite similar to the progressive step. However, instead of using one blank, you essentially get different blanks and use them at the same time. With each blank moving through its set of dies in a parallel fashion, you can essentially produce more materials at the same time. 
  • Reverse Deep Drawing: Also known as negative drawing, this metal forming process deviates from the traditional step of taking a blank and forming a part. Instead, you get a pre-formed shell or cup, drawing it into a die to create a deeper component with a smaller opening. Reverse deep drawing is especially great when you need to create components like containers, cups, and other product housings.
  • Compound Deep Drawing: With compound deep drawing, you take different dies and punches simultaneously and use them to create parts with intricate designs. 
  • Hydroforming: With hydroforming, we’re going into specialized methods of making deep formed metal stampings and more. The method works best when you need to create parts with unconventional shapes, such as you have in structural and automotive applications. 

The Basic Principles Of Deep Drawing 

Now that we know the deep drawn meaning, let’s look into what makes it work.

At the end of the day, the entire purpose of deep drawing is to ensure that you can transform a material from being a flat sheet into being a three-dimensional object. This is why we have deep drawn cans and other materials. 

However, for the process to work without a hitch, it is important to ensure that you can operate with some of the following functional principles: 

  • Material Selection: One of the most important parts of the entire draw press and deep drawing process is ensuring that you get the right material. In general, experts recommend materials with high ductility levels – copper, aluminum, etc. 
  • Blank Size & Shape: You also need to consider the initial shape and size of the blank material itself. It should have the right diameter or length-to-weight ratio, which in itself will depend on what you’re looking to achieve. Nevertheless, with proper blank preparation, you should be able to achieve the right level of material flow.
  • Die Design: Whether you’re looking to create a deep wave double drawn or any other design, you need to consider the die itself. This  component defines the final shape you get from the drawn part, so be sure to keep an eye on factors like blank holding, material flow, and the ease of extracting parts. 
  • Lubrication: As expected, the presence of lubrication will help take out friction between the metal sheet and the die. This will reduce the risk of wear and ensure the right levels of material flow. 
  • Blank Holder Force: For some deep drawing operations, you can use a blank holder to keep the blank in steady place as the forming process is being undertaken. This ensures that you can control material flow and prevent issues like buckling or wrinkles. 
  • Punch Speed and Pressure: You want to properly control the pressure  and speed at which the punch descends. Keeping these at appropriate  levels will ensure that the deep drawn parts have uniform material flow, and you can cut out the risk of defects.
  • Drawing Ratios: In general, the drawing ratio is used to calculate how much deformation is achieved during the deep drawing process.essentially, you take the diameter of the final part and divide it by that of the initial part. 
  • Springback: This principle examines the elastic recovery of the deep drawn box or other material after you release the punch.
  • Redrawing: For a deep drawn formed part with high depth or a complex geometry, you might need to embark on different drawing operations – or redrawing, if you will – to achieve the desired shape. 

Your Complete Guide To The Deep Drawing Process 

deep drawing process

Now that we understand how things like deep drawn aluminum cans work, let’s look into the process that goes into making these materials – and other deep drawn enclosures. 

Material checklist: Everything You Need To Conduct Deep Drawing

For you to optimize your deep drawn process, it is important for you to incorporate different tools and components into your process. Some of these include: 

  • Blank: This is essentially the starting material for your deep drawing process. It is usually made of material such as aluminum, brass, copper and its alloys, nickel, and more. 
  • Die: Generally, the die is one of the most critical parts of this entire process. If you’re looking to make a deep drawn aluminum can, for instance, you need the die – which comes with a hollow cavity that already has the desired shape of the deep drawn part. At the end of the day, your material sheet is formed into the die, thus allowing it to take the required shape. 
  • Punch: The punch is another essential tool used in deep drawing. It is a tool with a shape similar to the desired part, but it is slightly smaller in size than the die cavity. The punch descends onto the blank and applies force, pushing the blank into the die cavity to form the part.
  • Blank Holder: In most cases, you might not actually need this. However, there are deep drawing operations where it might be useful. For instance, if you’re making deep drawn cold rolled steel, then you might need a blank holder to hold the blank in place as it forms. The component essentially holds pressure on the blank’s edges, thus preventing the rise of issues like wrinkles during the forming process of your deep drawn boxes. 
  • Lubricant: It is important for you to ensure that your entire process involves lubrication. This ensures that you can cut out friction between the die and the blank, optimizing the smoothness of the material flow across the board.
  • Press Machine: Usually, you conduct the deep drawing process with a mechanical or hydraulic press machine. When making deep drawn pressings, you need the press machine to provide the force needed to drive the punch right into the blank. This action will cause material deformation and speed up the process of holding the shape of the entire die cavity. 
  • Trimming Tool: Another optional component, the trimming tool ensures that you can remove excess flash from the edges of the deep drawn formed part. 
  • Finishing Tools: In some cases, you might also need additional finishing tools to help refine the deep-drawn metal parts and ensure that they adhere to your final specifications. 

It is worth noting that all of these materials will have their functionalities – and, you might not even need every material at every point. With our experts at Tuolian Metal, you can rest assured that we will be able to provide the right counsel for you as you begin this process in earnest. 

Examining The Deep Drawing Process

So, we know what you need to make the deep drawn process as simple and reliable as possible. Now, let’s examine how the process actually works: 

Blank Preparation

You want to begin the deep drawing process by preparing the blank – or, if you will, the flat metal sheet. We all know what the blank is usually made of, so all you have to do is cut it into a rectangular or circular shape. As long as it fits into what you’re trying to achieve, you don’t have much of an issue. 

Lubrication 

This is another step that we have determined how important it is. Friction Is a huge issue that needs to be considered if you’re looking to make a deep drawn tube or any other material. So, you want to make sure that lubrication is optimized across the board to prevent this problem as much as possible. 

Blank Placement

Next, you take the lubricated blank and position it over the die cavity. For this step, it is important to ensure optimal alignment and centering. 

Drawing Process

The major process of deep drawing starts with the descent of the punch itself. Once it makes contact with the blank’s center, the punch applies enough pressure, pushing it directly into the die cavity.

With the descent of the punch, the material itself is made to go through proper plastic deformation, flowing radially outward. And, eventually, this movement will lead to the material taking the cavity’s shape. 

Material Flow and Thickness Reduction

With the material flowing into the die cavity’s void, it is able to thin and stretch at will in order to conform to the shape of the die. As part of this process, the blank’s thickness is cut significantly, meaning that you get a deeper component with less refined walls. 

Springback

Following the release of the punch, it is possible for you to notice the material returning to its original shape – a process known as springback. This is a direct consequence of the material’s elasticity. If springback does happen, you could see effects on the overall dimensions of the deep drawn products. So, you might need to make adjustments to make up for it.

With the completion of the deep drawing process, you can go ahead to take the formed part from the die cavity. 

Trimming and Finishing

In general, these steps aren’t compulsory. However, you might find yourself needing to remove excess material from the edges of the formed part by trimming it. And, you could also incorporate additional finishing steps like deburring or surface treatment to ensure that you get the proper finished product. 

Inspection and Quality Control

Final quality control and inspection will be done to ensure that your products meet the required standards and specifications. And, you also get to identify any possible defects or irregularities in the product, address them, and ensure optimal quality across the board. 

The Working Functions Of Deep Drawn Components 

Deep Drawn Sheet Metal

 

Deep drawing is a versatile process that helps in the creation of different components and products. Whether it’s deep drawn stampings or deep drawn housings, here are some of the functionalities of this process:

  • Automotive Industry: You can find deep drawing in the automotive industry, where it is used to create components like engine parts, fuel tank caps, deep drawn brackets, and much more.
  • Aerospace Industry: Just as well, deep drawing finds application in the aerospace industry, where manufacturers use it to make fuselage components, engine parts, etc.
  • Household Appliances: Whether it is the creation of kitchenware, a deep drawn sink, pans, or even appliances like fridge liners and washing machine drums, you can see the fingerprints of deep drawing everywhere in the household space.
  • Packaging Industry: You can see the use of deep drawn aluminum cans, deep drawn boxes, and more – all of which help to aid packaging. 
  • Electronics: The use of deep drawn aluminum enclosures and more that are used in making devices and gadgets show the application of this process in the electronics industry.
  • Medical Industry: We can also use this process to make deep drawn medical cases, trays, and other sensitive equipment in the medical field. 
  • Plumbing and Sanitary Ware: Deep drawing is applied in the production of bathroom fixtures, sinks, showerheads, and pipe fittings.
  • Lighting Industry: The process is used to create reflectors and lampshades that help with housing different lighting fixtures.
  • Renewable Energy: Manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels rely heavily on deep drawing to optimize their operations. 

All of these are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to deep drawing. So, if you’re in any of these fields – and more – don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Tuolian Metal and let us talk about how we can use our deep drawing process to help you. 

Advantages and Limitations of Deep Drawing 

As you would expect, deep drawing comes with different aspects to it. Let’s look into what makes it so great, as well as a few areas where it might fall short

Advantages of Deep Drawing:

  • Cost-Effective: For manufacturers looking to save money, deep drawing is ideal. Plus, the process generally allows you to engage in mass component production. 
  • High Production Rates: There are different automation processes that can be engaged with the deep drawing process to optimize its production volume and improve production efficiency.
  • Complex Shapes: With deep process, you can also create intricate shapes with smooth surfaces. This means that the process is ideal for different applications. 
  • Material Savings: When done right, you will find that the process makes use of the entire sheet to create cold rolled steel deep drawn enclosures and more. This means that you get to cut down on wastage and material costs.
  • Consistency: The result of deep drawing is usually a product with uniform, consistent parts. So, you can optimize product quality and reduce the need for any post processing. Of course, note that this isn’t always the case.
  • Strength and Durability: When you work with deep drawn components manufacturers like Tuolian Metal, you can rest assured that your products will be strong and durable, with material flow being optimized. 

As you would expect, deep drawing comes with different aspects to it. Let’s look into what makes it so great, as well as a few areas where it might fall short

Limitations of Deep Drawing:

Material Limitations: As we explained earlier, this process isn’t ideal for every material. 

  • Springback: Although it doesn’t happen every time, the presence of springback means that the material’s final dimensions could be affected. This is why you need to ensure optimal compensation and tooling to mitigate this risk. 
  • Thickness Variation: Material thinning is another risk of deep drawing, and it could lead to inconsistencies in wall thickness for certain component areas. 
  • Wrinkling and Tearing: The risk of wear and tear is always present when creating deep drawn copper stampings and more. This is why you need to ensure that your process parameters are as accurate and consistent as possible. 

Conquering these limitations can be challenging. However, with the experts at Tuolian Metal, you can rest assured that you won’t have any problems whatsoever. 

Deep Drawing vs. Stamping 

Deep drawing and stamping are quite similar. They are both metal forming processes, and they help in creating similar components as well. However, they also differ on several levels, which we should look into: 

Operation:

As we explained, deep forming involves transforming sheet metal into a three-dimensional shape using a die cavity. With stamping, however, you use punches and dies to manipulate metal through bending, cutting, and more to create the desired shapes. 

Forming Complexity:

In most cases, deep drawing helps in creating box-like or cylindrical components where depth is comparatively larger to width. However, you will find that deep-drawn stampings are more versatile, with the material being able to create anything from flat shapes to irregular components. 

Material Thickness:

In most cases, you will find that deep drawing is ideal for materials with thin or medium-thick bodies. As long as the thickness is less than part depth, you can optimize the process as much as possible. 

However, stamping is more versatile, being able to work with materials of different thickness ratings.

Part Size:

While deep drawing is adept at creating small and medium-sized parts, stamping can create anything from small to larger products. 

The Complexity of Dies:

The dies used in deep drawing are mostly simple since they focus on material shaping into a single cavity without the need for complex cutting operations. But, with stamping dies, you have higher complexity levels – especially for parts that need more than one forming step.

Design Considerations for Deep Drawn Parts 

drawing stamping

When designing deep-drawn parts, it is important to carefully consider different factors to ensure success with your project. It should go without saying that these factors will depend on what you’re manufacturing in the first palace – so, the considerations for a deep-drawn tube might not be the same for deep-drawn shells. 

Nevertheless, here are some important things to keep in mind: 

  • Material Selection: First off, remember to select a material with optimal formability and ductility. Deep drawn copper, aluminum, and specific variations of stainless steel work best for this process. 
  • Blank Shape and Size: You also want to make sure that the blank has a proper shape and size to match your required part dimensions. Specifically, look into ensuring that its thickness and diameter can accommodate material flow and cut out the risk of thinning.
  • Drawing Ratios: We recommend avoiding overly high drawing ratios as they could also cause operational defects and material thinning. 
  • Corner Radii: To avoid the buildup of stress at sharp corners, provide enough corner radii
  • Material Thickness: Consistent material thickness should be ensured and maintained across the entire part to ensure uniform deformation. 
  • Tolerances and Dimensional Accuracy: You’d need to specify dimensional accuracy and tight tolerances to meet the required part specifications. 
  • Fillets and Blend Radii: At Tuolian MEtal, we recommend the inclusion of blend radii and fillets in the design to optimize smoothness in material flow and prevent any wrinkling. 
  • Part Symmetry: Symmetrical designs often facilitate uniform material flow and reduce the risk of defects.
  • Flange Design: All through the blank holding process, you want to design flanges that offer enough material. 
  • Springback Compensation: Although it doesn’t always happen, it is still advisable that you accommodate springback when looking to achieve the right material dimensions. 
  • Stiffening Ribs: Add stiffening ribs in the design to optimize part rigidity and prevent buckling. 

Deep Drawn Forming: Other Factors That Can Influence Cost Efficiency 

At the end of the day, everyone wants to save money while they work. And, with deep drawing, you want to make sure that you get a proper bang for your buck across the board. By optimizing some of these factors, it will be possible for you to cut down on production costs while not giving any place for quality deterioration: 

  • Material Selection: It is critical to select the right material for your deep drawn part. Easily incorporate those with high formability and low cost, and you should be able to significantly reduce expenses on materials. 
  • Part Direction: Essentially, you want to make sure that the blank is placed properly on the die before the process begins. This way, the deep drawing process is able to move quickly and adequately without any downtime.
  • Blank Size and Material Utilization: Adequate sizing for your blank, as well as an optimization of the metal sheet’s layout, will help reduce overall material waste and increase its use. 
  • Tooling Design: Well-designed tooling will go a long way to improve the efficiency of the overall deep drawing process. Precise tooling can optimize setup time, ensure consistent part quality, and lay out any scrap material. 
  • Lubrication and Wear: With proper lubrication, you can reduce the friction levels between the die and the blank, thus prolonging the overall tool life and minimizing any possible maintenance expenses.
  • Cycle Time: By optimizing the press speed and reducing downtime, you can achieve the lowest possible cycle time, thus increasing general output.
  • Batch Size and Production Volume: Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to production volume and batch sizes based on demand. This will help you to reduce production costs and properly manage your inventory. 
  • Operator Training: You can also get massive benefits from properly-trained operators. They can minimize errors, avoid unplanned downtime, and generally reduce the likelihood of inefficiency.  

Conclusion 

The process of deep drawing is very significant to several fields. However, handling it properly requires an understanding of how the process works and how to optimize efficiency. 

This is why we at Tuolian Metal are in the perfect position to help you out. Contact us today, and let’s see how we can be of help to you.

 

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