For many stamping projects, engineers are increasingly moving away from metal materials in favor of non-metallic options like fibres, laminates, and thermoplastics.
Exploring material options outside of metals can lead to enhanced performance and cost savings when creating stamped parts for particular applications.
A laminated plastic composed of cellulose, vulcanized fibre offers great electrical and mechanical properties. Lighter than aluminum, vulcanized fibre is stiffer than many thermoplastics and more resilient than leather. It’s almost 100 percent free of artificial binders, resins, or glues.
Offering resistance against impact, abrasion, organic solvent, petroleum derivative, and oil penetration, the material is light yet extremely strong. When used in a thinner format, vulcanized fibre offers flexibility with high tear and tensile strength, while thicker vulcanized fibre can be molded into distinct shapes using pressure and steam.
Vulcanized fibre is ideal for stamped parts used in the following applications:
- Automotive parts
- Electrical insulation
- Trunk fibre
- Bone fibre
- Wood laminating
An unclad material made of varying resin systems, some laminates utilize woven glass weave while others incorporate non-woven or none at all. Each type of laminate offers distinct electrical, chemical, and mechanical properties and is differentiated by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) into four grades: mechanical, electrical, machinable, and general purpose. Certain laminate grades are fire retardant.
Laminates are often employed for the creation of stamped parts for use in the petroleum, aerospace, electronics, and automotive industries.
Thermoplastics can be composed of various materials, including nylon 6, 6/6, acetal copolymer, polyethylene copolymer and homopolymer, and MDS. The use of thermoplastics allows for the creation of stamped parts in differing thicknesses with a high degree of accuracy as well as a uniform appearance. Thermoplastic stamped parts offer resistance from corrosion, wear, friction, and temperature.
Thermoplastics are often used for stamped parts in consumer products or across the aeronautics and aerospace industries.
The Importance of Material Selection
Skilled design engineers must consider factors such as heat, lubricant absorption, vibration dampening, and other performance impacts when selecting materials.
As examples, commodity thermoplastics perform poorly in electric motor applications as they are likely to melt on the armatures, and thermosets often crack or break when used in the wrong conditions. This doesn’t indicate ineffectiveness of plastics or mean that they are a risky material choice, but instead highlights the importance of material selection performance requirements to design engineers when developing parts and components.
Depending on your application, choosing the right non-metallic materials for your stamped parts offers significantly enhanced component performance. Download our eBook, Material Selection Guide, for a more in-depth look at the various materials available and the benefits of each in specific use cases.