Generally, a metal stamping machine is available for forming, trimming, embossing, or flanging blank metal surfaces. It can even pierce, or restrike a metal blank. But our point of interest is the seemingly small but otherwise significant dot peen marking segment of the industry. From metal hand stamps to fully automated machines, a wide range of tools are available to service the industry. None-the-less, the marking industry has immense significance and relevance in today’s world.
If you are wondering what a metal stamping machine is and want to understand the nuts and bolts of dot pin marking, read on.
Pin Stamping Machines:
Pin stamping machines use metal pins that permanently indent a series of dots onto the surface of a material by rapid actuation.
This process can be done manually using stamp press machines or by using specifically designed equipment. For automatic stamping machines, the stylus or pin can be programmed to move around the surface in x and y directions. This results in a succession of dots that create the required graphics. They can be digits, text, logos, and 2D Data Matrix codes. The method is fast and accurate. Moreover, the markings do not induce any major stresses on the material. Hand-Held Dot Pin Engraving Machines are also available. This reduces the requirement of a large pneumatic power source setup.
Due to size and cost issues, electrically operated stamping equipment is feasible for light-weight work. For instance, if the markings are not too deep or if the material indents easily. For heavier workloads, pneumatic stamping machines are the appropriate choice. They can handle tough materials and allow for deeper marking.
The force needed to shape and cut a metal depends upon the type of metal used. The most common categories dealt with are:
- Ferrous Metals: Iron-based metals, such as stainless steel.
- Non-Ferrous Metals: Nickel, bronze, brass.
- Non-Standard Alloys
- Precious Metals: Gold, silver, and platinum
One does not have to look far to see applications of a metal stamping machine. At our homes, we can see them on plumbing pipes and other household equipment. They might even be around the necks of our pets. Shiny pieces of metal with their names on them. When you sit in your car, you can see part-numbers of the doors and the engine neatly visible in the metal surfaces. These markings are done using VIN plate stamping machines.
The industry relies on metal stamping for many reasons. Number stamping machines and letter stamping machines are most commonly in use. Industrial setups rely heavily on data. Knowing which part is installed where and whether it went through its proper maintenance can become a matter of life and death. Part numbers and serial numbers installed are critical information. These need to be on record in a manner that the data is available even in extreme temperatures and rigorous usage conditions. If any of these fail, one can trace them and prevent the recurrence of fault. Hence, they are engraved on the metallic surfaces of instruments or have separate metallic ID plates. The automotive and aviation industries are rife with examples where the availability of such data saves lives.
How to choose the right metal stamping machine:
Artisans and low volume workers can find steel hand stamps to fulfill their requirements. These are mostly used on soft materials, for instance, leather. The industry requires fast and accurate solutions that can be automated. Hence selecting the right machine relies on multiple factors. Some critical points for consideration are listed below.
The primary point for consideration is the material on which engraving is to be done. For brittle materials, the dot peen marking may not be the best-suited option altogether. For ductile materials, such as metals, they are ideal. The harder the material, the shallower the depth of the mark will be. Hence, knowing what material you want to mark is critical. This will also define the life of the pin. This can also be handled by selecting between hydraulic or electric machines. If the material is too hard, a hydraulic or pneumatic system will be better at task execution.
A side note on materials
Pieces that are well finished and smooth are easier to mark. Also, a bad finish implies a deeper mark will have to be made to make it readable. Similarly, for painted workpieces, the paint may chip. The pin angle can be angled to reduce the probability of chipping.
Irregular surfaces can be marked by machines but the depth of the mark will vary across it. For dot marking, the depth of the mark will increase as the gap between the pin tip and the workpiece surface increases. For a difference in the gap of only 1 to 2 mm, the mark produced may be acceptable.
When marking a heavily contoured surface, such as a cylindrical workpiece, there are several things that should be considered:
- The aim should be to use as large a gap as possible. If there is an initial gap of 5mm then a change of 1mm will have less effect than the same change with an initial gap of 2mm.
- A line of text can be split into multiple sections. One can adjust the force requirements for the markings accordingly. This is to compensate for the change in the gap.
- Making the whole mark shorter is also an option. One can achieve this by reducing the size of the fonts or graphics.
Machine Design Parameters:
Having a current model makes life easier. Recent software and hardware mean greater reliability. Integration with external parameters also becomes convenient. For instance, linking a machine to a computer using USB will be easier than using an RS232 connector. Similarly, software integration becomes easier with new computer operating systems.
High-quality marking needs high-quality parts. It is imperative that internal components, such as linear guides and stepper motors, need to be high grade. Structural parts also need to be sturdy. This also means better durability.
The requirements of the marking in need are to be thoroughly understood. Deeper markings need a thicker marking needle. A stable structural setup is also important. This is necessary to withstand the impact the pin will make with the metal surface.
This consideration has multiple implications. For instance, if the object that needs stamping is too large, a portable solution is better. Similarly, locations with no electricity can be efficiently dealt with machines that run on batteries. However, smaller workpieces can get better markings by machines with a bed. The small parts can be rigidly fixed to get cleaner results.
For high-resolution requirements, dot peen marking is not the best contender for the job. This is a task up the alley of fiber laser machines. Creating intricate patterns is beyond the scope of dot peen markers. Their limitations are inherent in their design. For instance, the carbide tip that marks the surface is not capable of making a design that requires detail. Then comes the to and fro motion of the actuator. A micro-stepping actuator would increase the cost of the machine significantly.
Laser on the other hand is a different story. Machines with galvo control systems carefully drive the lasers to their intended location. Consequently, a crisp and clean resolution graphic is made. But precisely for this reason, they become expensive. The laser system has a cost in itself. Combining it with a high-quality galvo system puts a much heavier price tag.
Stamping Machine Price:
As discussed above, the cost is a primary motivator when selecting the right machine. Inkjet markers are the cheapest. Inkjet marking machines are essentially like conventional printers. With special ink, they can print on the surfaces of metals. They are the fastest at the marking process and with the smallest learning curve. But their permanence is easily put in to question.
A dot peen metal stamping machine lies in the next tier. More expensive than an inkjet but cheaper than laser. However, there is a continuous expensive recurring cost associated with dot peen markers. Firstly, comprising primarily of mechanical parts, they tend to wear out easily. Which means maintenance costs at every break-down which will be comparatively frequent. The recurring cost factor applies to inkjet as well when considering the ink needs replenishment. However, ink will always be cheaper than a machined mechanical part.
At the top of the line comes Laser. Laser engraver and markers are efficient and precise. They make cleaner markings and can be much more diverse in usage. All of this, however, comes at a hefty price. Laser markers cost roughly five times the price of a dot peen marker.
Factories and manufacturing plants can churn out a few hundred to several thousand parts a day. If these products need marking, slow speed will introduce a bottleneck before the parts can be shipped out. Here, laser leads the race. High-intensity lasers are able to move and transfer the required marking energy to the work surface in a short time. Inkjets are also a speedier option. Comparatively, an actuator’s motion in steel stamping machines, using the dot peen method, is more time-consuming.
Pneumatic Marking Machine
This is a common machine available on amazon. You can find them in different bed sizes with varying parameters. This one is the LYRA CNC dot peen marking machine. It has a bed size of 140mm by 40mm. The marking thickness can be from .1mm to 1mm. It is a pneumatic machine that requires an air compressor. The small box on the left in the image above is precisely that.
You can come across multiple machines like the one above. However, if you were to go into their documentation or look for support, you will probably be disappointed. Such units are usually disposable and are not worth it if you are looking for a long-term machine. Despite being very low on cost, it is difficult to identify the brand behind the machine. This means customers do not know who actually is behind it and hence an element of lack of trust. But there are other players in the market that do bring with them quality and customer confidence.
This is one of their portable machines. It operates completely electrically. This means no bulky baggage on the side, such as air compressors. Moreover, its design caters to uneven surfaces as well. It can easily manage height differences of up to 3mm. It has .05 to 1mm marking depth and a speed of 40 to 50mm. The latter also depends on the size of the lettering or numbering.
A slightly heavier price tag brings with it a much higher standard of quality. Another important element concerning quality is that of safety. This equipment can cause serious damage or injury. So having a good quality machine is not only about durability. It is also about reliability. Also, a higher investment upfront means lesser breakdowns and lower maintenance costs.
Conclusion: Metal Stamping Machine
Here is a brief run-down of what we have learned above. A metal stamping machine is marking equipment that uses to and fro actuation. An actuating arm has a pin or stylus at the end. This indents the surface and traces the required data in a dot-matrix type format. Their applications vary and spread across multiple industries. Selecting the right machine depends upon the material, marking resolution, and the job parameters. There are other technologies available, such as laser and inkjet. But each has its own pros and cons. In the end, it is critical to invest in a machine that offers value. Brands, such as HeatSign, make a difference. They make the task convenient and safer. its all on you now that if you want to benefit from the experience and skill of HeatSign, then we are here for you.
For further detail of HeatSign products, drop by the website for a visit. And you will worth the time you spend here.