Control Forming by Understanding Material Properties

Learn the Science of Materials
Understand your Tooling and Technologies
Form Better Components

Forming sheet metal blanks into components requires energy and tooling to stretch, bend, draw, and shear the blank into the desired geometry. Much of the science of sheet metal forming focuses on defining how much energy and deformation a piece of sheet metal can withstand before thinning excessively and splitting. Other issues we must know about include maintaining the quality of sheared edges, managing strain to prevent wrinkling, and managing springback.

There are thousands of available types and grades of materials available. Each material has its own set of properties and behaviors when placed under the stress of deformation. Within each grade, materials will have varying levels of variability introduced during manufacture and milling. The science behind materials helps you select the correct material for your application and better manage your manufacturing process for reliable and consistent results.

Designers, artisans, engineers, and metallurgists work together to form product components from flat sheet metal blanks. These components may provide strength and structure, enable utility, and often define the product's style for your customers. The market and recent legislation asks for lighter, more efficient, and more reliable products. This demands that materials and forming technologies evolve to support market and regulatory requirements. Likewise, evolution requires innovation, knowledge, and fresh minds.

  • How do we attract creative new minds to the sheet metal forming industry? Make it personal. We must do a good job of promoting:
  • The exciting challenges and opportunities of making components lighter, stronger, more corrosion resistant, easier to form, and greener.
  • The opportunity for dedicated professionals to become industry leaders.
  • The rewards available in developing and forming new materials and technologies.

Most importantly, we must demonstrate our commitment to develop and support smart young talent and experienced professionals in building better products and a better world.
Building products to meet modern demands requires materials with greater strength and ductility, corrosion resistance, lighter weight, joinability, and reduced environmental impact. Often, a change in one property can change the characteristics of another. This opens challenges to sheet metal manufacturers, metalforming organizations, and equipment suppliers. Meeting these challenges requires professionals who understand material properties and forming applications. Both experienced professionals and young minds are necessary to generate the type of innovation our industry needs to support advancement.

Forming sheet metal requires a series of violent activities between the blank, the punch, and the die. The strains required to accomplish your desired geometry cause the metal in your material to flow, stretch, bend, harden, and thin. The more you understand about the properties of your material, the greater your chance of choosing the best material, lubrication, and tooling to form your component.

The mechanical properties of your material determine how it will react under the strains applied during forming. Hardness, ductility, and plasticity define how easily your material will deform. The right material selection will best be able to meet your geometry requirements without splitting or wrinkling. The material's properties also drive forming decisions, including:

  • Springback management,
  • Draw bead requirements,
  • Press technologies and tonnage,
  • Tooling materials,
  • Forming processes, and
  • Lubrication to control heat and friction.

Surface and hardness properties define how the final product will look and behave under the normal use.

Supporting well-trained and skilled employees is among your most valuable investments to ensure efficiency, quality, and sustainability. As generations rotate through your business, it is important to maintain a solid foundation of knowledge and shared experience to maintain continuity in operational results.