By projection, the fine blanking industry will rise with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% between 2022 – 2032, owing to the rapid adoption of the technology in various industries. Fine blanking is an ingenious metal fabrication technique relevant in various industries like aviation, aerospace engineering, construction, oil and gas, automotive, or electronics.
This article will explore the fine blanking process while examining the factors that impact its success. You will also get useful tips on achieving mastery in this field. Whether you are a metalwork expert or just starting, this guide will be a valuable resource for enhancing your knowledge and skills in fine blanking.
Fundamentals of Fine Blanking
Shaping metal parts involves many intricate steps that require attention to detail and proper awareness. Fine blanking also has its fair share of complexities; a dive into the course will give you a proper understanding. So let’s start with the basics!
What Is Fine Blanking?
Fine blanking is a metal stamping procedure with high accuracy to produce sophisticated parts with exceptional surface finish and tight tolerances. It involves a combination of shearing and punching operations, typically using a specialized fine blanking press and custom tooling.
Unlike conventional stamping techniques, fine blanking produces parts with a uniform, burr-free edge that requires little or no further finishing. The process is in use in various industries, where the quality and precision of the parts are critical to their performance and functionality.
Due to its detail-intensive nature, fine blanking is a specialized and demanding process requiring substantial knowledge, experience, and equipment to produce the highest precision and quality parts.
Advantages of Fine Blanking
Fine blanking has many advantages. Take a look at some of its benefits:
- Flexibility: Regardless of the size and shape, you can produce a wide range of materials with fine blanking. Many industries can easily adopt fine blanking.
- Precision: Unlike other blanking methods, fine blanking offers great precision. The process can dish out complex parts with minimal variation and tight tolerances. With fine blanking, you will enjoy accuracy in your production.
- Cost-effectiveness: Fine blanking is cost-effective. Many argue that it costs more than other blanking methods; this is, however, untrue. With fine blanking, you can produce complex parts in a single operation without needing any extra manufacturing process.
- Material efficiency: Fine blanking reduces the amount of scrap material after production. The shearing action it uses makes it more cost-efficient.
- Many material options: Fine blanking is useful for various metals, including steel, copper, aluminum, and brass. The density of the metal may not be a barrier as it can work on metal up to 0.625 inches thick.
Disadvantages of Fine Blanking
As much as fine blanking offers many benefits, it also has disadvantages. Some disadvantages are
- Complexity: Fine blanking requires great expertise and professionalism, making it complex. Anything less can be disastrous.
- Cost: Fine blanking can be quite expensive as it requires only the finest equipment to complete the process.
- Time-consuming: Great things take time, and so dies fine blanking! If you are in haste to produce complex parts, the fine blanking process may frustrate you as it requires longer to produce parts with accurate dimensions.
- Restriction to simple parts: Fine blanking is best suited for producing flat parts with simple geometry. Using the technique to produce parts with complex geometries will take a lot of work.
- Environmental pollution: Fine blanking is a noisy process that can cause great inconvenience to anyone around. The complex machines also give off a great deal of vibration.
How Does Fine Blanking Work?
The fine blanking process starts with feeding a piece of metal into the blanking press. The process also involves a die and stripper that works together to make the part. While the stripper holds the metal in place, the press and die clamp together and hold the metal down till the part forms, ensuring the finished part maintains accurate dimensions.
In the end, the stripper releases the part and reveals a part with a smooth, burr-free finish.
Comparison Between Traditional and Fine Blanking Methods
Traditional blanking and fine blanking are both processes for stamping and cutting metal into different shapes. Though they are similar, they have some significant distinctions.
- Traditional blanking requires simple tools that are cheaper. On the other hand, fine blanking requires specialized tools like precision die sets.
- Traditional blanking produces parts with simple shapes; any special feature will require an additional process. In a single operation, fine blanking can produce parts with special features like holes, ridges, etc.
- Traditional blanking uses local tools and can handle materials with wider thicknesses. Fine blanking can only handle materials about 6mm thick.
- With traditional blanking, you will produce parts with rough or burr edges, while fine blanking produces parts with smooth, burr-free edges.
- Traditional blanking produces parts with looser tolerances due to the lack of precision. Fine blanking, on the other hand, will produce parts with tight dimensional tolerances.
|S/N||Traditional Blanking||Fine blanking|
|1.||Less precision and scary.||More precision and accuracy.|
|2.||Produces simple shapes.||Produces shapes with multiple features.|
|3.||Uses simple localized tools.||Requires complex specialized tools.|
|4.||Produces parts with rough edges.||Produces parts with burr-free edges.|
|5.||It can handle a wider range of thicknesses.||Suitable for most thin materials.|
Materials for Fine blanking
Fine blanking is a specialized process that requires a specified set of materials. Types of fine blanking material include:
- Steel: one of the most common materials for fine blanking is steel. If it is a tool that requires great durability and wear- resistance, tempered steel is a good fit.
- Stainless Steel: Apart from its aesthetic appeal, stainless steel is a regular choice for fine blanking because of its strength and corrosion resistance. Parts for the medical, aerospace and automotive industries come from stainless steel.
- Aluminum: aluminum sheets are malleable, lightweight, and often have great corrosion resistance, making them suitable for fine blanking. It is a good fit for parts for the aerospace and automotive industry.
- Copper and Brass: these materials are malleable, soft, and possess good electrical conductivity. Parts made from these materials are mainly for the telecommunications and electronics industries.
Factors To Consider When Selecting Fine Blanking Materials
While there are various materials to choose from, here are the top factors to consider before making a choice:
- Production volume: If you have plans to produce in large quantities, you would want to choose a cost-effective option. If you are producing in smaller quantities, you can afford a splurge.
- Material properties: The purpose of creating the part will determine the properties to consider. You can look out for corrosion resistance, strength, etc.
- Density: The thickness of the material can affect its cutting and final output. When choosing materials for fine blanking, choose those with a density of 6mm or less.
- The complexity of the part: If the part you want to produce will have a lot of ridges, slots, and holes, you should opt for a durable material.
- Cost: Materials with the most desirable properties are often more costly than others, and you should count the cost of the material before you commence production.
Fine Blanking Tools
The fine blanking process would be nothing without all the right tools. There are different tools for fine blanking; design tools and manufacturing tools. Have a look:
These are software programs used to design tools for the fine blanking process. Some fine blanking design tools include:
- Computer-Aided Manufacturing Software (CAM) for generating tool paths and programming CNC machines.
- Computer-Aided Design Software (CAD) to create 3D models of the product and to spot any design issues.
- Simulation software to imitate the fine blanking process and identify potential glitches.
- Tool design software to optimize the fine blanking process, choose the best materials, etc.
Tools and equipment used In the actual manufacturing process. They include
- Punch and die sets to cut and shape the metal in the fine blanking press.
- Fine blanking press, a hydraulic press that uses great force to create the finished product.
- Feeder to hold the metal in place for fine blanking.
- Lubrication system to prevent wear and friction on the tool.
- Inspection equipment for quality control.
Maintaining Fine Blanking Tools
Proper maintenance will ensure that your fine blanking tools remain in optimum condition for longer. Some practices you can adopt to maintain your fine blanking tools include
- Storing them in a clean, dry area when not in use.
- Using the correct type and amount of lubricant for the tools.
- Cleaning it regularly to remove any debris or buildup on them.
- Regular inspection of the tools to spot any damage or signs of wear and tear.
- Repair any faulty parts to avoid greater damage.
Fine Blanking Die Design
Die design involves designing and producing custom tools for each fine blanking process. Since each fine blanking process is unique, you must create a custom punch and die set to fit each part design.
Factors Affecting Die Design
Before proceeding with the die design process, consider the following:
- Material properties. The material’s flexibility will determine the punch and die clearance and final part design.
- The volume of production, higher production volume will require a durable die design. On the other hand, a smaller volume can accommodate a specialized and less durable design.
- Component geometry, the geometry of the final product you wish to produce, can determine your desired die design.
- Manufacturing process, the tools you use in producing your die set can affect its design. The machine can affect the complexity and tolerance of the design.
Several components have to work together to get your desired part, including
- Punch, the upper component that applies force to the material during fine blanking.
- Die is the lower component that supports the material and produces the desired shape.
- Holder plate, which holds the punch and dies together during the fine blanking process.
- Ejector pins remove the finished part from the die at the end of the fine blanking process.
- Stripper, which removes the finished part from the punch at the end of the fine blanking process.
- Guide pins and bushings; to align the punch and die during the fine blanking process.
- Wear plates; to protect the punch and die from wear and tear during fine blanking.
For optimum performance, you need to adopt proper maintenance culture. You should do the following:
- Store your die components in a clean and dry place when unused.
- Lubricate the parts to reduce wear and tear.
- Clean the components to remove any buildup of dirt.
- Inspect the die components for any damage and replace any damaged parts.
Fine Blanking Machine Selection
When selecting the fine blanking machine you will use, there are several things you should consider; the machine type and parameters. The different types of fine blanking machines are
- Hydraulic fine blanking machine; this is the most common type and uses hydraulic pressure to form the desired part. It is slower than other types and requires high maintenance.
- Mechanical fine blanking machine; uses mechanical force to form the desired part. They are faster than hydraulic machines and require less maintenance. However, they are not as precise as their hydraulic counterparts.
- Transfer fine blanking machine; they transfer the part being formed from one stage to another through transfer stations. They are suitable for high-volume production but are more complex and expensive.
- Servo-driven fine blanking machine; uses servo motors to apply force to the part you are producing. They are more energy efficient and offer greater precision. They, however, require specialized training to be able to operate them.
The parameters to look out for in a fine blanking machine include:
- Speed is the rate at which the punch moves during fine blanking. A faster machine will produce a higher volume and vice versa.
- Tonnage is the amount of force the machine can exert on the material during fine blanking. A machine with a higher tonnage will work well with denser materials.
- Automation: machines with higher levels of automation are more efficient than their less automated counterparts.
- Bed size is the working surface where you place the material during fine blanking. The bed size can affect your level of productivity.
- Stroke length is the length the punch can travel during fine blanking. This will also affect the length of the component you will produce.
The maintenance requirements can determine your fine-blanking machine selection process; here’s why:
- The maintenance history can give you insight into the maintenance requirement.
- Easy access to the machine components can make the maintenance process easier.
- A machine with a simple design will be easier to maintain.
- A machine with a well-structured lubrication system will make the maintenance process seamless.
Fine Blanking Parts
When choosing fine blanking parts, they should meet these technical requirements:
- Strength and ductility; the material used in making the parts must be of high quality.
- Precision; the parts should have accurate dimensions and high tolerances.
- High pressure; to produce only the best parts.
- Lubrication; to reduce friction and wear and tear.
Fine Blanking Micro Parts
Micro parts produced from fine blanking are small and precise. They are the pins, gears, and other parts used in various industries. They require high skill, precision, and specialized machinery for their production.
Fine blanking can also produce some blanking mini parts. They can be the delicate parts of many bigger machines used in various industries.
Fine Blanking Lubrication
Fine blanking produces various parts through a specialized process. Due to the type of machines and materials used, you need lubrication. Lubrication reduces friction and prevents the material from sticking to the machine during production.
It also dissipates heat during production, thus increasing the life span of the tool and reducing tool wear. Overall, fine blanking lubrication will ensure that the fine blanking process remains reliable and consistent.
Types of Lubricants
You can use the following lubricants for fine blanking machines:
- Mineral oil-based lubricants: these lubricants are made from refined mineral oil and are suitable for general-purpose lubrication. They are inexpensive and provide cooling properties.
- Synthetic lubricants: made from synthetic base oils and provide superior performance in high-stress applications. They provide temperature stability, reduce tool wear, and offer excellent lubrication and cooling properties.
- Water-soluble lubricants: mixed with water to form an emulsion. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of the fine blanking process, then use this as they are easy to clean up.
- Dry lubricants: applied as a coating or powder and used where you do not want any lubricant residue. They are effective but require frequent application.
- Grease lubricants are thick and commonly used where high-pressure lubrication is required. They are resistant to high temperatures and pressures.
- Flood lubrication; apply a good amount of lubricant in the cutting area. This method is suitable for high-volume production.
- Spray lubrication; a small amount of lubricant is sprayed on the metal to control the amount of lubricant used.
- Roller lubrication; applying lubricant to a roller that will transfer it to the metal.
- Mist lubrication; the lubricant is applied using compressed air. This method will allow very small quantities at each application.
- Brush lubrication; this involves using a brush to apply lubricant directly to the metal.
Quality Control in Fine Blanking
Quality control is important in fine blanking as it will help you maintain a proper production standard. It will also help you save costs by avoiding any mistakes you may need to rectify.
With quality control, you will also enjoy customer satisfaction as your customers will enjoy using the parts you produce. Finally, it helps you stay in line with regulatory requirements.
Quality Control Methods
- Material testing: you can test the physical and mechanical properties to ensure they meet the desired specifications.
- Visual inspection: you can look out for any deformities that could affect the quality of the part.
- Dimension Inspection: this involves measuring the edges of the parts you have produced to ensure they meet the requirements.
- Statistical process control (SPC): you can follow the production process to help you identify and correct any deviations from your specifications. You can collect data at various points in the production process through statistical analysis to identify trends or patterns that may indicate a problem.
- Non-destructive testing (NDT): with this quality control method, you can test the interior of the part you have produced with an ultrasonic tester.
Applications of Fine Blanking
Fine blanking is useful for producing parts for the following industries:
- Automotive industry: fine blanking produce electrical components, suspension parts, brake and steering parts, engine parts, transmission parts, and seat belt components.
- Aerospace industry: fine blanking helps produce specialized airplane parts.
- Construction: with fine blanking, you can get parts for many construction many tools and machines.
- Medical industry: the process helps produce machines for stethoscopes and various medical tools.
Fine blanking is a specialized process that requires great expertise and tools to be effective. If you plan to venture into the process, you must be well prepared. Hence the reason we have put this article together.
Take note of all the information above, and you will have a seamless fine blanking process. Better still, you can contact us to handle your fine blanking needs.