Metal Forming Versus Plastic Forming

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Pros and Cons Metal Forming vs Plastic Forming

Metal Forming Versus Plastic Forming 

A trend we have seen in the metal stamping industry in recent years is that some companies have implemented the manufacture of plastic parts  into their product lines. Metal forming and plastic forming methods have their own set of pros and cons, and it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Metal Fabrication

There is a long history of metal forming in the manufacturing industry. The manufacturing of metal offers strength, conductivity, and resistance to heat and UV rays, Metal forming methods can depend on the series or grade of metal used in production. Some of the more commonly used metals include various steels, aluminum, brass, copper and nickel.

Different metals can offer certain benefits. For example, aluminum is strong but lightweight as well as affordable. Stainless Steel is corrosion resistant, non-magnetic and offers excellent wear resistance. Carbon steels are a cost-effective solution to your metal stamping needs and yield high strength properties. Brass or Copper are ductile, corrosion resistant and are suitable for applications requiring conductivity.

Learn more about choosing the right metal for your next project in our recent blog.

Some benefits of metal forming include:

  • Heat resistance: Metals typically have a higher melting-point and are less likely to deteriorate under higher temperatures.
  • Increased strength: Metal grades tend to be stronger, harder, and more durable than plastic.
  • Versatility: Metal can be formed through a wider range of processes, including deep drawing, roll forming, extrusion, press braking, roll forming, stamping, forging, and casting.
  • Competitive costs: Metal is usually a cost-efficient option, particularly in high-volume or long-term production runs.

Drawbacks of metal forming:

  • Secondary operations: Metal forming is more likely to require secondary processes, such as surface finishing or deburring, which takes additional time and money.
  • Design limitations: The forming behavior of some metals are not suited for manufacturing highly complex geometries or shapes.
  • High initial tooling charges: metal tooling costs are typically more expensive when compared to plastic production tooling.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Plastic Fabrication

Though the results of plastic forming greatly depend on the unique characteristics of the kind of  plastic used and the process. The most common methods of plastic forming are plastic extrusion, injection molding, rotational molding, plastic extrusion & injection blow molding, vacuum casting, thermoforming & vacuum forming, and compression molding.

Advantages of plastic fabrication include:

  • Ease of forming: Due to its low melting point and high ductility compared to other materials, plastic can be formed into basic and complex geometries with ease.
  • Reduced finishing: Unlike most metals, plastic can be colored prior to fabrication, reducing the need for certain secondary processes.
  • Faster production: Plastic forming often involves quick cycle times and fast turnover rates.
  • Lighter weight: Plastics typically weigh less than metals of comparable dimensions.
  • Chemical resistance: Plastics are generally less susceptible to damage from chemicals or chemical reactions, such as oxidation or rusting.

Drawbacks of plastic fabrication are:

  • Limited wear resistance: Plastic has a low resistance to elevated temperatures, acidity, and other corrosive environments.
  • Structural weaknesses: Most plastics are not suitable for applications requiring high mechanical strength, such as heavy equipment parts and most construction materials.

Reasons to Consider Metal Stamping

PMP has been producing deep draw metal stampings since 1950. Our dedicated staff is exceedingly skilled with the machines and processes deep draw metal stamping requires. Our parts have withstood the test of time because of their high quality. The parts we produce are durable, reliable, and manufactured out of different kinds of metals such as aluminum, brass, steel, copper and stainless steel.

Get in Touch.

Not sure what material would be best for your next project? Start a conversation or book a meeting with our deep draw specialists at PMP today!