What Is Metal Stamping?

If you’re under the impression that stamping is a craft in which ink is applied to an image made of metal or rubber and then transferred to a piece of paper, then you’re not alone. That is a definition of stamping, but certainly not the only one. The art of metal forming is another type of stamping. Tools used to bend, cut, stretch and ply metal into a desired shape is also called stamping. Up and until a few weeks ago we at Workman’s Friend thought there was only one type of stamping, that involving cute little heart stamps on paper. But a question from a loyal customer showed us there’s another whole world of stamping. This time exclusively involving metal and producing many essential items.

What is Metal Stamping?

Stamping is the process of molding, manipulating and shaping metal. The goal of the entire process is to get the piece of sheet metal into the correct shape and size for its intended purpose.      

The tool or fixture that is capable of sculpting such as strong material is a die or precision fixture. The die is mounted into a machine called a press. If you think of the metal as dough, you can just imagine the variety of shapes and objects you can create. The dies themselves come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  There are small and complex dies used to make the electrical components in your cell phone.  By comparison there are others that weigh hundreds of tons and measure 15-20ft wide. Which die you select all depends on what you’re creating

When Did Metal Stamping Begin?

Stamping got its commercial start in Germany in the 1890s. That country began exporting stamped bike parts to the U.S. Shortly thereafter, American tool makers developed their own machines to build bike parts and were no longer dependent on other countries.  Soon, car manufacturers began stamping parts for their vehicles. Ford was initially hesitate to use stamping, but quickly learned they could not meet demand using their old manufacturing ways.

Where is Metal Stamping Used?

Stampings for door locks and window blinds in the home, seatbelts and engine parts in commercial airplanes to entire automobile sides are just a few of the examples where this type of metal manipulation is used. Take a look around your home, office or even in your garage and you’ll be hard pressed to find an object that doesn’t contain some sort of metal stamping.

What is the Metal Stamping Process?

There are many types of dies however almost all of them perform two major processes either cutting, forming or both. Cutting is the most popular operation performed by a stamping die. By placing the piece of metal between two bypassing tool-steel sections, it is cut in half. There are several different types of cutting that can be done including trimming, notching, lancing and piercing.

A Stamp of Approval

Stamped metal is essential to our everyday lives. Yet the traditional belief is metal stamping is performed by a set of unskilled workers. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Professional stampers are skilled artisans who require a great deal of training to produce a quality product.  Indeed the finest metal stampers require some creativity but above all they build practical items that require practical experience and a professional skill set to produce. So the next time you sit in your car, or hand someone some change, think about all the skill required to produce those objects, big or small.


Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is a light-weight and odorless hand cream perfect for anybody who works in the metal stamping industry. A simple application of our moisturizing, light, and non-greasy formula means your hands will be protected while at work.


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