Author Archives: johnatmetalproducts

What is Metal Stamping?

Metal Stamping:

Now that we’ve reviewed materials, and are familiar with the basics of steel, copper, aluminum, and brass, what is it exactly that we do with these materials? Depending on the material, we’ll either machine them or stamp them. Aluminum and brass are typically machined at our facility, while copper clad and steel are stamped. We’ve also covered different machining options, so what is metal stamping?

A simple way to explain metal stamping is to say that metal is fed into a die, where punches pierce, form, and cut material into a finished part. A more step-by-step explanation of metal stamping is the process of feeding coiled material from an un-coiler, through a material straightening device, into a die that is being ran by a punch press of varying speeds and tonnage. Is your head spinning yet?

We’ll be taking the next couple of weeks to breakdown the process of what is happening, and the key concepts of a metal stamping operation deals with on a day-to-day basis.

Minster straight side punch press

This is a Minster straight side style punch press. We’ll get into general information, and anatomy of a punch press next week.

Breakdown of the Coming Weeks:

There’s a lot to cover in the process of metal stamping. There are a lot of engineering concepts, and different machines that put together just one part. We’ll start out by focusing on the big machines that go together to ensure material is properly fed. Some of the machines we’ll be focusing on include:

  • Punch Presses
  • Un-Coilers
  • Feeders
  • Straighteners

Once we’ve got a hold of all of the big machinery that goes into making parts, we’ll take an in depth look at dies. Dies are the intricate tools that fit inside the punch press, and where the material is fed. Dies are what actually make the part, by piercing, forming, and cutting the material. Some of the topics we’ll cover regarding dies are:

  • Different Types of Dies (coining, single hit, progressive, fine blank, etc.)
  • Key Concepts in Die Function
  • General Anatomy of a Die

We’ve got a lot of topics to cover over the next couple of months, so check in here every Wednesday for a new topic on metal stamping.

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up: February 3rd, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up:

As the second month of 2014 begins, a new champion in the NFL has been crowned (and an entire city didn’t sleep for a night), and we move forward into the thick of things with disappointing numbers in public construction. Manufacturing stocks are on a bit of a downward slope as well, while some car manufacturers are seeing better numbers than expected. On to the links:

  • January was not a great month for manufacturing in the US. Reuters is reporting, that the ISM index is showing its lowest ratings since May 2013. A decrease in public construction hasn’t helped, however private construction has stayed steady through the month.
  • While January may have been a little more tough than what was hoped for, Housing Wire has a break down of where the construction industry has struggled, and flourished. Even though there was a slight increase in overall business in December, the levels of building spending is equivalent to the levels that we saw in March of 2009.
  • If you’re looking to increase the value of your home, while lowering your electricity bill, installing solar panels is one way to achieve both goals. However, some older houses have some limitations as to what kind of additions you can make. Renewable Energy World has a list of guidelines to consider when thinking about making solar panel additions to your home.
  • The one industry that has outpaced others in our economic recovery, the automotive industry, has companies with mixed reviews. Chrysler’s sales numbers grew in January, while GM and Ford took a slight decrease.
  • And finally, has a story of a local brewery fighting to use drones to deliver beer to fisherman on Minnesota lakes. That is customer service at its finest.

As always, a happy and productive Monday to you all, and congratulations Seattle!

Met Life Stadium, Home of Super Bowl 48

This upcoming Sunday is considered to be an unofficial holiday for American sports fanatics across the county, as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos face off in Super Bowl 48. As this game has been played for almost half of a century, it has garnered certain reputations over the years: it has the best (and most expensive) commercials of the year, it’s the longest game of the year (due to all of those commercials), wacky prop bets, a Gatorade shower for the winning coach, and a sunny local to play the game.

However, for the first time in the game’s history, it will be played in New Jersey. Right across the Hudson River from downtown New York city, the anticipated coldest Super Bowl in history will be held. The reason for the NFL to buck the usual mild climates of Florida and California mostly has to do with the recent construction of Met Life Stadium.

Stadium Features

Met Life Stadium has a lot technological features, along with having the second highest seating capacity in the league. Here’s a list of some of the more impressive features the stadium boasts:

  • 2.1 million square feet in venue size
  • 82,500 capacity for football games
  • Four 30 foot by 118 foot HD video display boards in each end zone
  • Over 2,100 HD monitors throughout the stadium, capable of receiving 70 different channels
  • Free wi-fi through out the stadium

On top of all of these features, Met Life is also the only stadium that hosts two teams, which requires an impressive amount of re-configuring from week to week.

Home of the Giants and the Jets

One of the biggest design challenges for creating a stadium that will host two teams, is the ability to create a home feeling for both squads. There are a couple of cool features that Met Life has to accommodate this requirement.
The stadium is designed with mostly neutral colors. The seats are grey, and the outside is covered in aluminum louvers so that high powered lights with blue and green filters can be changed out, making the outside of the stadium team specific depending on who’s playing that night.

Source: Stadiums of Pro Football Met Life Stadium when the Jets are at home.

Source: Stadiums of Pro Football
Met Life Stadium when the Jets are at home.

Source: Stadium Journey Photo Credit: Sean MacDonald Met Life Stadium for a Giants game.

Source: Stadium Journey Photo Credit: Sean MacDonald
Met Life Stadium for a Giants game.

As for the field, the only section of the actual turf that requires replacing is the end zones. The fifty yard line is covered with the NFL logo, while the end zones will be changed with a specialized turf square moving machine, to read either, “Giants” or “Jets” depending on which team is playing that day.

Add in all of the signage and merchanise stores that need to be changed, the whole process only takes about two, eight-hour working days. A pretty impressive feat considering the size of the stadium. The Met Life Stadium Website has a cool video that breaks down the change over process.

So while you’re holding your breath, hoping that your bet that the National Anthem will go over the mark of 2 minutes 23 seconds (yes, there are casinos that are actually posting that), take a second to admire the ever-continuous construction project that is Met Life Stadium.

Materials Focus: Copper

The world of metals is a wide-ranging, complicated place. With our “Materials Focus” series, we aim to shed some light on different materials that we commonly use. Some of the topics we’ll be covering in our “Materials Focus” series include general elemental components of popular alloys, strengths and weaknesses, common uses, and photographs of parts we’ve made.

This week’s material is, Copper.


Copper is a material that has been used by many different societies across the world, for centuries. It is a natural metal that traces of can be found in a native form, (actual chunks of pure copper) but is most commonly found mixed with other elements. Original uses of copper can be traced all the way back to ancient China, and parts of the Middle East.

However, what makes copper such a common commodity today is its malleability, and its high conductibility for heat and electricity, making it a widely used material in the HVAC and building industries. Pure copper is very expensive, and is unfortunately a common target in HVAC related thefts, that are turned around and sold to unknowing scrap companies. There are numerous amounts of copper alloys, and even some secondary processes that aim at making copper products more affordable and usable.

Copper Alloys

The list of copper alloys is quite extensive. So much so that common metal names such as bronze, and brass are actually both copper alloys. Thus, all bronze and brass alloys are still really alloys of copper. Adding the alloys that are made with combining precious metals gold and silver, the list is too long to go into great detail for this blog.

To keep things relatively simple, yet informative, the main difference in brass and bronze is what is mixed in with the copper. Brass is primarily a mix of copper and zinc, whereas bronze is a mix of copper and typically tin, but can also be aluminum or silicon. As you get into the alloys of each respective material, there are additional metals that enter the mix, but the zinc and tin/aluminum/silicon are the commonly present mixtures that make each alloy.

While the alloys have different contents and uses, the price of each doesn’t necessarily drop dramatically and they still have a high malleability compared to steel. So how does one go about making mass quantities of copper parts without breaking the bank, and getting the rigidness of steel? This is where a process referred to as “copper clad” comes into play.

Copper Clad Material

Copper clad material is a bi-metal product that is made primarily of regular steel, with a coating of copper on top and at the bottom of the steel. Copper clad material has greatly benefited the wire, electrical, and plumbing industries because of its capability to posses the conductivity of copper, yet at the same time still have the tensile strength of steel. While copper clad material does come with a lower price tag of a similar, pure copper product would, it is still significantly higher than regular steel.

Copper Clad Pipe Strap

Here’s an example of a Copper Clad Pipe Strap. The right side of the photo shows the copper material on top, whereas the left side of the picture shows the bit of steel showing through where the material is cut. The steel allows for the standard rigidity of our pipe straps, but the copper clad allows them to be used with copper piping.

In our world, copper clad pipe straps are required when copper piping comes into play. Regular steel pipe straps would eventually erode copper piping, however with copper clad products, plumbers and electricians are capable of keeping the rigidity of steel for the main body and putting copper to copper eliminating any material issues that would arise.

We hope this month long series on materials has been helpful for you to understand the different uses of the materials we commonly use. Feel free to leave any unanswered questions below in the comments section. Next week, we’ll start to dive into the world of production dies. We’ll discuss the different styles of dies, along with different components that are required to run dies as efficiently as possible.

Monday Manufacturing Round-UP: January 27th, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up:

Our last Monday of the month brings us stories from all across the country ranging from housing numbers, to Millennial housing traits, to a story of cabinet makers finding a way to be more productive. Most places across the country are still pretty cold, and some (especially out here in Oregon) are a lot less rainy than usual (not that we’re complaining about it). On to the links:

  • Bloomberg Business Week is reporting that individual housing sales numbers were less than expected for December. A decrease in sales isn’t out of the usual for that time of year, as general inventory isn’t as high as other parts of the year due to bad weather, so no need to hit the panic button.
  • The Millennial generation gets pegged with a lot of tags, but Housing Wire is saying that blaming them for stalling the housing market is one that is unfounded. Those in the 30-34 age range have the lowest home owner percentages in recorded history. But, put your pitch forks and flaming brooms away, the 30-34 year olds were heavily affected by the housing collapse.
  • Michigan is looking to make some changes to the scrap metals industry in attempts to lower the copper theft rates. Some say that the changes are needed, some say that the proposed waiting periods will dramatically hinder scrap companies ability’s to do business.
  • Paul Downs writes an account of a cabinet maker taking time to become more efficient. An interesting read focuses the importance of taking time to talk things out with your sales and production crews, and to write ideas down to keep them fresh in your mind.
  • Lastly, farmers across the country are trying to get a head start in taking advantage of potential future bans on trans fats. Canola is being planted across the country, as a potential replacement for the trans fat oils that may soon be kicked out the door.

As always, a happy, productive Monday to you all!

CSX National Gateway

CSX National Gateway: Efficiency in Supplying the USA

Efficiency is a constant buzz word in the world of manufacturing. It helps businesses create product at its lowest price, allowing the business to be competitive and successful. While manufacturers across the country focus and attempt to be as efficient as possible, there isn’t always a reliable efficiency when it comes to supplying the necessary materials to do business. That’s where the CSX National Gateway wants to help out.

The North-West Ohio Terminal

The North-West Ohio Terminal is equipped with some of the most up to date, high-efficiency and automated equipment in the logistics field today. The most impressive tools being the Hans Kuenz GmbH Cranes. These cranes are massive in size (302′ long, 100′ high, 95′ wide, and weigh over 1,000,000 pounds), and are capable of picking containers off of incoming trains, and placing them on double stack trains or trucks as if they were blocks of legos. These cranes are operated by one person, and run off of electric motors while also generating electricity with their movement. The electric motor running/charging function allows these cranes to be highly energy efficient, roughly 80% more efficient than a similarly functioning diesel engine.

Kuenz GmbH Crane

Here is one of the massive Kuenz GmbH Cranes in operation.
Source: Blog for the Akron Railroad Club

With the ability to move large containers almost effortlessly, the National Gateway also tries to double up the containers leaving the depot.

Taking The Goods Out, Two at a Time

One of the biggest time savers the National Gateway makes, is in stacking one container on top of the other, on specialized double stack trains. Just one of these double stacked trains carries the equivalent of 280 freight trucks. This not only increases the amount of product that comes with each train, but it also lessens the amount of trucks on highways, making traffic through that travel path a little less.

Kuenz GmbH Cranes

One can see not only the massive size of these cranes, but also a double stacked train being loaded to the right.

These cranes are not only an impressive feat of manufacturing by Kuenz, but also help move goods faster than what was previously thought as possible. If you’d like to read more about the National Gateway project, and other terminals, visit their website here. You can also see the cranes in action on this video, on the CSX Vimeo site.

Fridays are not known for their productivity and efficiency as we are all looking forward to the weekend, so if you have any good tricks to keep yourself focused and efficient, leave it in the comments down below.

Materials Focus: Brass

The world of metals is a wide-ranging, complicated place. With our “Materials Focus” series, we aim to shed some light on different materials that we commonly use. Some of the topics we’ll be covering in our “Materials Focus” series include general elemental components of popular alloys, strengths and weaknesses, common uses, and photographs of parts we’ve made.

This week’s material is, brass.


General Information

Brass is one of the softer, and visibly speaking, visually pleasing metals a machine shop can work with. Brass is used for a wide variety of purposes ranging from musical instruments, to nautical products. While it is not the toughest of metals, brass has many uses and different forms. Brass itself is actually a copper alloy, as depending on the type of brass, the copper content ranges from 53.5% to 86%. While copper is the majority element that makes up brass, the change in zinc and lead levels significantly vary the properties of brass and how it is used.

Lead and Zinc levels in Brass

Zinc and lead additions are what typically make the biggest difference between the brass alloys. Higher levels of zinc make brass a harder material, and also helps protect it against corrosion. 464 brass, also known as naval brass, is an example of a high zinc leveled brass at roughly 37-39% zinc. A small amount of tin is also mixed in to help fight corrosion.

Lead is a naturally soft metal, and when it’s mixed with alloys it helps create softer, and more machinable metals. 360 brass, or machining brass, has the highest amount of lead of all the brass alloys. 360 brass is great for machining purposes, however using it as a forming piece does not bode well, as it is the most malleable of the brass alloys.

360 brass pieces

Three pieces of 360 brass, awaiting their final machining.

360 Brass

The most common brass you’ll see in a machine shop is 360 brass. This version of brass is high in zinc levels, but also contains the most lead levels of all the brass types (keep in mind that while 360 brass may have highest amount of lead content of all versions of brass, lead only accounts for roughly 2% to 3.5%). 360 brass is used for many different purposes, including decorative pieces and even functional pieces such as the hammer in the picture below. 360 brass is great for tool and die working hammers as it allows for the regular function of a hammer, yet does not dent or damage the harder tool steel.

Brass hammer

Brass hammers are widely used in the tool and die industry to be able to fit tight tolerance pieces, without damaging the tool steel. The brass hammer gets the brunt of the damage, but it’s much cheaper to replace brass pieces to a hammer than a progressive die.

While brass is more expensive than standard steel, it still is a widely used, and very important material. Whether it be sidings on a boat, decorative pieces to lighting fixtures, or die shop hammers, brass is found in every corner of the world in many different functions.

Monday Manufacturing Round-Up: January 20th, 2014

Monday Manufacturing Round Up:

As we get into the third week of January, some would say that the New Year is really official, as we now have the Super Bowl match up set. All joking aside, our Manufacturing Round-Up mixes in a bit of numbers from last year and attempts to see what this year has in store for us. Hopefully you’re all staying warm and out of the fog, but luckily, the evenings seem to have a little more light every day getting us closer to summer, and construction season! On to the links:

  • Architect Magazine takes a look back towards a disappointing December for job growth. The one sector that had solid job growth numbers for December was residential construction. With the consistency of job growth, maybe the housing market is really back?
  • While jobs seem to continue to be available in construction, Intel has announced, unfortunately, plans to cut 5,000 jobs in 2014. With the influx of sales and usage of mobile devices, sales of processing chips have been down, really hurting Intel.
  • Keeping with the tech industry, is 2014 finally the year of the 3-D printer? That’s the question the New York Times is asking. With Adobe announcing the integration of 3-D printing in their newest version of Photo Shop, we may very well see a large spike in consumer usage of 3-D printing.
  • California is seeing a decline in housing sales. With prices increasing, and the number of short-sales and foreclosures diminishing, the housing sales numbers to our Southern neighbors were down from 2012.
  • This past weekend, the Disciples of Dirt, a local mountain biking club dedicated to community out reach and preservation of trails had their annual All-Comers Meet. Gear-heads from all across Lane county met just south of Eugene to enjoy a gathering of trail riding, and appreciation for the trail and general maintenance of former logging areas the club performs.

As always, a happy Monday morning to you, and here’s to the start of a productive week.

Beautiful Construction Projects of 2013

The widely known tech/design blog Gizmodo unveiled their top 11 construction projects of 2013. Included in the list are construction projects all across the US and some in Canada. The different buildings range from the airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to a boathouse for a boat club in Boston.

My personal favorite was the new visitor’s center for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, in New York City. The way that the garden is incorporated into the roof of the building is very seamless, and creative. You can check out the rest of the projects here. You’ll definitely notice common themes of earth tones, simplicity, and streamlining with nature.

Locally speaking, we had some major construction projects finish this year as well. Most notably the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex was completed in 2013, and is considered one of the top athletic facilities across the country, including professional and collegiate settings. The local school paper, The Daily Emerald, has a thorough photo diary here, that includes shots of meeting rooms, lockers, and the main weight room.

Any construction projects you know of that we missed, or you just think are really cool? Leave them down in the comments section.

Materials Focus: Aluminum

The world of metals is a wide-ranging, complicated place. With our “Materials Focus” series, we aim to shed some light on different materials that we commonly use. Some of the topics we’ll be covering in our “Materials Focus” series include general elemental components of popular alloys, strengths and weaknesses, common uses, and photographs of parts we’ve made.

This week’s material is, aluminum.


General Information

Aluminum is a highly flexible and commonly used material for machining purposes. There are many great characteristics of aluminum that make it one of the more commonly used materials in manufacturing, across many different sectors of business. Aluminum is a relatively soft and light metal, making it a highly form-able and weldable material. Along with its ease of use, aluminum is also highly resistant to corrosion.

These positive attributes aluminum possess are main reasons as to why aluminum is found through out all industries. Common places you will see aluminum being used vary from the food processing, marine applications, railroad, furniture bracketing, and outdoor construction projects.

While there are many positives about aluminum, just like anything in life, there are some draw backs as well. Due to its soft nature, aluminum is not a great option when there will be a high amount of potential stress to the product. Aluminum also has a naturally high reflective rate, which can make laser cutting aluminum difficult and add extra wear to the laser cutter.

An aluminum part, cut by a CNC machining center

This is a finished 6061 aluminum part that was made with a CNC machining center.

6061 Aluminum

There are over thirty-five aluminum alloys that are used to manufacture parts, however, there are ten common alloys most used. You may find a list of the ten common alloys here.

The alloy we find ourselves using the most is the 6061 alloy. The 6061 alloy is highly machinable, and keeps to form well when heat treated is necessary. 6061 is 97.9 % aluminum, while the rest is made up of 1% magnesium, .6% silicon, .25% copper, and .25% chromium.

6061 aluminum pieces ready to be machined.

A stack of 6061 aluminum pieces ready to be machined.

With the mixes of other materials, 6061 aluminum is a harder material than 1100 aluminum, also known as “commercially pure aluminum.” Here are some of the strength differences of the two materials:

Strength Measurement (value) 1100 Commercially Pure Aluminum 6061 Alloy Aluminum
Tensile Strength (psi) 13,000 18,000
Yield Strength (psi) 5,000 8,000
Hardness (Rockwell) 35 to 55 60 to 75
Shear Strength (psi) 9,000 12,000
Fatigue Limit (psi) 5,000 9,000

The information in this table was derived from, “Metals Handbook, 8th Edition” published by The American Society for Metals, pages 936-946.