Deep drawn and progressive stamping has long been valued because it can form shapes impossible with any other kind of metalworking. It has also been valued as an economical, labor-saving alternative to machining and assembly.

Cartilage Cutter Internal Sleeve
The serrated internal rotating sleeve of this cartilage cutter is drawn of Nitronic alloy.

Design engineers have in recent years also come to rely on deep drawn and progressive stamping because of its effectiveness in forming refractive metals such as titanium, Kovar, molybdenum, niobium, tantalum and zirconium. Each of these metals has unique qualities of heat resistance, biocompatibility and performance in hostile conditions.

Deep drawing’s capability to form these and other exotic metals gives the design engineer the opportunity to create designs previously available only in common metals. Where 10 years ago a design or process engineer could never work with extremely ductile metals in acidic environments, he or she can now create multifaceted niobium devices economically, to very close tolerances.

Just as these metals bring different qualities to a product, they bring different challenges to manufacturing it. Elongation, elasticity and tensile strength vary in every metal. Understanding the metals is critical when dealing in O.D.s as small as 0.045” and wall thicknesses as small as 0.004”, ±0.0001”. A shop’s climate has to be strictly controlled if it is to produce hundreds of thousands of intricate parts that will meet the strictest specifications.

Of equal importance, the shop’s personnel — tooling, production and QC — must be trained in how these metals work. The knowledge and eventual expertise of these professionals becomes a critical asset to a manufacturer of deep drawn stampings.

By utilizing this combination of manufacturing components — knowledgeable metalworking design assistance, hi-tech facility infrastructure and experienced personnel — design engineers have a fascinating opportunity to create new, more efficient and more economical twenty-first century parts.

Pete Evans is president of the Evans Company in East Providence, RI. Evans manufactures not only deep drawn but flat stamped parts, offering engineered solutions to technological challenges.