Success with Short-Run Stampings and Assemblies
For this Wisconsin-based company, high-quality stamped parts begin with custom dies featuring close-tolerance components
Buyers of stampings should not have to lower their expectations for quality when their needs call for a small quantity of parts. Dynamic Stampings, Inc., based in Sussex (metro Milwaukee), Wisconsin, has recognized the market for high-quality, short run stampings since Curtis Windsor, Jr., started the company in 1976. Traditional stamping dies often cost thousands of dollars, necessitating high-volume production to justify the tooling. Yet, stampings are used in virtually every product, especially in short run manufacturing.
"Some of our customers are inventors who want to bring a particular product to market," says Gary Rauch, sales manager. "They may need stampings beyond the prototype stage, and tooling that will provide them with unlimited production down the road. One of the myths of our industry is that no short-run die will last very long. This is simply not the case. Every tool we build comes with a lifetime guarantee. We also take care of all maintenance, and if the tool ever breaks or wears out, we replace it at our own cost."
Dynamic Stampings has two production plants: the 38,000-sq-ft Sussex shop, and a second, 15,000-sq-ft shop in Charlotte, North Carolina. Staffed by some 40 employees, the shops generate annual combined sales of over $5 million. Traditional craftsmanship works hand-in-hand with high technology of CAD-CAM, CNC machining centers, and wire EDM to build high-quality, lifetime tooling at a cost of hundreds, not thousands, of dollars. This extraordinary advantage has placed the company well ahead of other short-run competitors and made it a leader in the short-run metal stamping marketplace.
"We have a state-of-the-art die room," Rauch says. "Through the years, we've been more successful than anyone else in the industry in developing high-quality, short run stamping dies."
Rauch went on to explain that complete dies are made on computer-controlled equipment. "The high-tech equipment we have in the die room allows us to produce high-quality tooling for as little as $200 per die, which, for this marketplace, is extraordinarily competitive. It's a basic principle: High-quality parts are produced from high-quality dies. Our commitment to our customers is to sell them high-quality parts."
Dynamic's $200 die charges compare to charges as high as $3000 to $5000 for traditional dies. How does Dynamic do it? According to Rauch, the secret is automation combined with a high degree of competence.
"Basically, we made a huge investment in equipment, which bought us the ability to produce a high-quality tool very inexpensively," he adds. "In a nutshell, we looked at all the factors that made it so expensive to produce a die, and subtracted those things from the equation."
The firm's die production is enhanced by seven Mitsubishi wire EDM machines, which are used to make specialty, close-tolerance die components, and three Mazak machining centers, which produce all the common areas of the dies.
When a customer transmits a print to Dynamic's CAD system, it creates a program that will run on the wire EDM machines. Standardized plates are used as die and punch holders for the components that come off the EDMs. Die makers finally come into the picture to assemble the completed die components.
Each part has its own dedicated tooling. No interchangeable components are used in the manufacturing process; each job is an entity unto itself. The completed dies are not temporarily retired after the job is over, and then dragged out of mothballs to make something else down the road. In effect, every die that that Dynamic builds is customized to meet the requirements of the customer. Every tool is an original production.
Dynamic's material capabilities range from 0.020-in.- to 0.250-in.-thick cold rolled steel, hot rolled steel, stainless steel, and aluminum, as well as copper, brass, and other metals. Standard tolerances for all production are +/- 0.005 in. on lineal dimensions and +/- 0.0015 in. on hole diameters. Dynamic has a press capacity of 150 tons and maximum die capacity of 28 inches to 40 inches. The firm's press facilities include 84 Bliss OBI punch presses, ranging from 10-ton up to 150-ton. Dynamic has developed techniques and procedures to accommodate runs of up to 50,000 pieces.
The company can full blank and pierce parts up to 16 inches square. All tooling is designed to full blank the complete contour of each part, and pierce all holes in a single operation. Any forming required on a production part is done using dedicated form tools, built specifically for that part. No press brakes or common tooling are used. Secondary machining operations include tapping, reaming, countersinking, and milling, all accomplished though the use of CNC machining centers.
Dynamic also performs subassemblies, each of them subject to the same exacting standards applied in the stamping department. Every aspect of the company's production, Rauch explains, is aimed at achieving the most efficient prototype and short run workflow. Process control is achieved through use of statistical methods employed by the company's comprehensive quality system.
"We have consistently experienced a 15% to 20% growth increase, and this has been true from the very beginning," Rauch says. "Our promise to our customers has always been the same-to make affordable, high-quality stampings in the quantities they desire. We've built our reputation and our business living up to that promise. We're very proud of what we do here, because we do it very well.""We have consistently experienced a 15% to 20% growth increase, and this has been true from the very beginning," Rauch says. "Our promise to our customers has always been the same-to make affordable, high-quality stampings in the quantities they desire. We've built our reputation and our business living up to that promise. We're very proud of what we do here, because we do it very well."
In one recent case, a top engineer at a manufacturer of laboratory equipment wanted to redesign an existing part to eliminate quality problems from his current supplier. Dynamic suggested that the problem was not in the design but in the production. The engineer sent an order to Dynamic and later reported that every part he received was produced exactly to print, and the parts were the finest that his inspector had ever seen.
On another occasion, Dynamic was hired to reengineer a series of machine parts for a tool manufacturer whose products were exposed to rough daily use in auto repair facilities. Dynamic redesigned the part into a laminated stamping, rendering the tool virtually indestructible.
Laminating is an inexpensive method that can greatly enhance the strength of a part, Rauch noted. Using laminated assemblies, Dynamic can take machined parts that would otherwise cost as much as $8 per piece and stamp, laminate, and copper braze them for $2 each. For door hardware manufacturers, for example, Dynamic makes laminated stampings to replace parts that would normally be cast or machined. The result is a much stronger part that costs far less to produce.
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