Is a pressing the right choice for your business? Part 1


In this three part series we look at how pressings may or may not work for your business. We appreciate that while some businesses are very knowledgeable about the stamping industry, some companies especially start-up companies and smaller companies may be new to metal forming and may wish to seek some guidance on a new design or product they are considering having pressed. The aim of this series to help companies and individuals just like that. 

The pressing and stamping industry is an old industry dating back to the 18th century when a Scottish inventor James Watt described the first “Steam Hammer” for drop stamping. It wasn’t until 1840 when the first working steam hammer was built to cater for the growing steel and iron industry. A dispute between a Francois Bourdon and James Nasmyth over who originally invented the machine however form that time the stamping, forging industry was born*.

In the 1890’s Bicycle manufacture started to use stamped parts to mass manufacture as demand grew for two wheeled transport. Henry Ford was originally against the idea of using stamped parts as recommended to him by his Engineers however he was forced to use the technology to keep up with demand of the Ford motor car.*

Our history at Bracebridge Engineering (BBE) dates back to the 1920’s where is parent company Trevelyans began life in Digbeth, Birmingham where the company were producing light fittings for the growing number of households converting to electric lights at that time.

Trevelyan’s: 1930’s Press shop.

As manufacturing grew through the 30’s and 40’s, Technology moved forward which allowed parts to become more accurate and produced at much higher rates. In the 1950’s Treveylans moved to general presswork as certain industries slowed down and changed technology. Bracebridge as we know it today was formed in 1978 in Aston, Birmingham and was a large producer of copper tap and household fittings. Today on its current side in Perry Barr since 1995, Bracebridge produce a wide range of pressed metal parts for many different industries including, Automotive, Industrial, Military and Aerospace. But how does this help you decide on what method of production is right for you and your company?

Pressed part advantages:

Pressings offer many advantages over other methods of manufacture. If your design or product involves sheet metal, then consider having these parts pressed. Some of the advantages are listed here and may help you decide on what method to choose:

  • 1.Pressed parts are often the cheapest method of manufacture
  • 2.Provided the shape is not too complex, the part could probably be pressed.
  • 3.The forming process work hardens the material and provides inherent strength in the component as opposed to cutting and welding for instance.
  • 4.If you have a high volume of parts to produce, then a pressing is worth the investment in tooling as production rates can be many 1000’s per hour in certain circumstances.
  • 5.Very high tolerances can be achieved on most parts.
  • 6.Many Pressings companies like Bracebridge Engineering offer further services such as vibro deburring, welding and assembly to further add value to your product.
  • 7.If weight is a consideration, then pressings offer the best approach to weight saving.
  • 8.Many metals can be pressed right from mild steel to more exotic materials like Duplex stainless steel and Titanium.

Pressed part disadvantages:

  • 1.In most cases some form of tooling is required as an upfront cost to make your parts, this can be expensive if you only require a low volume of parts. More on this later…..
  • 2.Parts with sharp radiuses are costly to achieve, again more on this later and how to overcome it.
  • 3.Not idea for 1 off parts or sub 100 parts per year projects. Prototyping companies are usually ideal for this especially if you have future volume work to consider.

In the next blog we'll look at the various common shapes of products and how they can be made using the forming and stamping process. In the mean time if you have an enquiry about a product that you wish to discuss our team will only be too happy to guide you through the process and help you decide how to go about it. Contact us at [email protected], also follow us on twitter @bbepressings for updates and news on the industry and British Manufacturing in general.