What are the differences between Sheet Metal Stamping vs. Metal Fabrication?

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In the realm of metalworking and manufacturing, two processes stand out for their versatility and widespread use – sheet metal stamping and metal fabrication. Both procedures are integral to industries such as automotive, electronics, appliances, aerospace, and construction. These techniques serve the need for custom parts, components, and structures that vary significantly in terms of design, durability, and application. However, it is vital to distinguish between these two processes as their process,cost, suitability,limitations,material pptions,precision and tolerances and lead time can vastly differ.

As Chengli Hardware, a leader in precision metal stamping and sheet metal fabrication, we aim to clarify these differences. With years of experience and our commitment to quality, we strive to enlighten our clientele about the processes we employ to bring their custom designs to life.

sheet metal stamping VS metal fabrication

Understanding the Basics

What is Sheet Metal Stamping?

Sheet metal stamping, often referred to as just ‘stamping,’ is a metalworking process where sheet metal is placed in a press, and a tool or die surfaces to raise, sink, or cut out portions of the metal to create a desired design. Stamping can produce components with impressive precision, enabling mass production of parts with high consistency. It includes methods such as custom metal stamping and progressive die stamping, with custom metal stamping dies used to create unique designs. It’s no surprise that many of our clients often seek sheet metal stamping near them for their high-quality, efficient production needs.

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Sheet Metal Stamping

What is Metal Fabrication Called?

Metal fabrication is a broader term that encompasses several processes used to manipulate metal into a desired product or part. It involves procedures like cutting, bending, shaping, welding, and assembling to create everything from small components to large structures. Metal fabrication is a backbone in industries such as automotive, aerospace, construction, and many more, allowing for the customization of parts to precise specifications.

Metal fabrication includes processes such as laser cutting, plasma cutting, and waterjet cutting, each with its unique advantages. At Chengli Hardware, we offer a range of metal fabrication services, including custom sheet metal fabrication, steel fabrication, and aluminium fabrication, tailored to the unique needs of our clients.

sheet metal fabrication

What Industry is Metal Stamping?

Metal stamping finds its application in a multitude of industries that require the manufacturing of high-precision parts in large volumes. The automotive industry heavily relies on sheet metal stamping for the production of numerous vehicle components. Other sectors include electronics, aerospace, appliances, medical, energy, and music industries. Essentially, any industry that needs custom, high-precision parts can benefit from metal stamping.

Read more about the metal stamping industry

Types of Metal Fabrication and Stamping

To further understand the depth and versatility of these processes, let’s dive into the various types of metal fabrication and stamping.

Three Types of Metal Fabrication

There are numerous techniques involved in metal fabrication, but the three main types include:

Forming: This is the process of changing the shape of a piece of metal without removing any material. It can involve techniques like bending, forging, and extrusion. Forming is used in various industries, from architectural metalwork to custom aluminum fabrication.

Cutting: As the name suggests, this involves cutting a metal workpiece into smaller pieces or altering its shape. Techniques can include sawing, shearing, or even more advanced methods like laser cutting, plasma cutting, or waterjet cutting.

Joining: This involves combining two or more metal pieces. Common methods include welding, brazing, and adhesive bonding. Our welding and metal fabrication services at Chengli Hardware offer robust solutions in this regard.

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Four Types of Metal Stamping

There are several different methods used in metal stamping, each suited to different applications. The four main types include:

Progressive Die Stamping: This method involves feeding a metal strip through a series of operations performed in a single die, resulting in a completed part at the end of the press. Explore more on our progressive die stamping page.

progressive die stamping

Compound Die Stamping: In this process, a single stroke of the press produces the desired shape from the raw material.

Deep Draw Stamping: This process transforms a flat sheet of metal into a cylindrical or box-shaped part, using a punch and die. It is often used for parts that need a significant amount of depth. Read more about our deep draw stamping services.

Fourslide Stamping: Also known as multi-slide or four-way stamping, this process is best suited for intricate designs involving bending and forming. Discover our fourslide stamping solutions.

Comparing Metal Stamping and Fabrication

Despite the commonalities, there are significant differences between metal stamping and fabrication, particularly in terms of their processes, costs, suitability, and limitations.


Metal Stamping, whether it’s sheet metal stamping, stamped copper sheets, or stamped aluminum panels, involves the use of high-tonnage presses and specific tooling to produce high-volume, consistent parts. A sheet or coil of metal is fed into a press, where dies in the shape of the desired parts are then applied at high pressure. Stamping is highly suitable for large-scale production because once the dies are made, parts can be produced at high speed with consistent quality.

On the other hand, Metal Fabrication covers a broad range of processes that cut, shape, join, and finish metal parts. These processes can include cutting with plasma, waterjets, or lasers, as well as welding, bending, and forming. It’s worth noting that some forms of metal fabrication, such as sheet metal shearing or duct fabrication, can also involve the use of presses and dies, similar to stamping.


Metal stamping generally has higher upfront costs due to the creation of custom metal stamping dies, but the cost per part decreases significantly with larger volumes. This makes stamping a cost-effective solution for high-volume production.

Metal fabrication, on the other hand, can often be more cost-effective for low-volume or prototype production since it doesn’t always require expensive tooling. However, for higher volumes, the cost per part can be higher due to the slower, often more labor-intensive processes.


Metal Stamping is suitable for high-volume production of parts with simple to moderate complexity. This is often used in the automotive industry, where thousands or even millions of identical parts are required.

Metal Fabrication is highly versatile and can handle parts with a wide range of complexities, from simple brackets to complex machinery. It is ideal for one-off prototypes, custom work, and low- to medium-volume production. It is commonly used in industries such as aerospace, construction, and industrial manufacturing.

sheet metal blanking


Like any manufacturing process, both metal stamping and fabrication have their limitations. Metal Stamping can be less flexible once the tooling is produced; making changes to the part design can be expensive and time-consuming. Also, it might not be cost-effective for low-volume runs or complex parts.

Metal Fabrication can be slower and more labor-intensive, making it less suitable for high-volume runs. The quality and consistency of fabricated parts can also be less predictable, especially when manual processes are used.

Material Options

In metal stamping, the use of materials can be somewhat restricted. Not all metals are suited for the high pressure exerted by stamping presses, especially brittle or extremely hard metals. Commonly stamped materials include steel, copper, brass, and aluminum. You can learn more about different stamping materials on our dedicated page.

Metal fabrication, on the other hand, is known for its versatility when it comes to material usage. Nearly any metal can be cut, bent, welded, or otherwise fabricated. This includes but is not limited to steel, aluminum, stainless steel, bronze, brass, and copper. In addition, fabricators can work with a variety of metal thicknesses and grades.

Precision and Tolerances

Metal stamping can achieve high precision and tight tolerances because the same die is used to produce each part. In high-volume runs, this results in a high degree of consistency and accuracy across parts, making metal stamping popular in industries like automotive, aerospace, and electronics, where precision is paramount.

In contrast, the precision of metal fabrication can vary based on the specific process used and the skill of the operator. Processes such as laser cutting or CNC machining can achieve high precision, while manual processes such as welding or hand forming may have looser tolerances.

Lead Time

For metal stamping, the initial lead time can be longer due to the need for custom tool and die making. However, once the setup is complete, parts can be produced at a high speed, significantly reducing the time per part for large volume orders.

With metal fabrication, lead times can be shorter for initial prototype production since custom tooling is not always required. However, the fabrication processes themselves can be more time-consuming, especially for complex parts or large quantities.

Metal Stamping vs. Metal Forming

When discussing sheet metal fabrication, it’s important to differentiate between metal stamping and metal forming. While both processes are used to alter the shape of metal, they do so in different ways and are better suited to different applications.

Understanding Metal Stamping

As we’ve already discussed, metal stamping is a process that uses dies and punches to create high volume, high precision parts with consistent quality. Stamping can involve a range of specific techniques, including punching, embossing, bending, flanging, and coining. It’s typically used for mass production due to the high initial cost of creating custom dies, but once these are made, they can produce parts quickly and efficiently. For more detailed insights on metal stamping, feel free to visit our dedicated metal stamping page.

Defining Metal Forming

Metal Forming

On the other hand, metal forming is a broader term that encompasses a variety of techniques used to deform metal without removing material. This includes bending, rolling, forging, extrusion, and more. Metal forming can be performed either hot (where the metal is heated to make it more malleable) or cold (which maintains the metal’s initial properties).

Key Differences

Here are a few key differences between these two processes:

Flexibility vs. Efficiency: Metal forming is often used when a high degree of flexibility is required, as it can accommodate complex shapes and intricate designs. Metal stamping, meanwhile, is most efficient for high-volume production runs where a large number of identical parts are needed.

Material Usage: Both processes can work with a variety of metals, but the specific techniques used in metal forming can sometimes handle materials that are too brittle or hard for stamping.

Cost: Metal stamping has a higher initial cost due to the need for custom dies, but these costs can be amortized over large production runs, making the cost per part very low. Metal forming can have lower startup costs, especially for more straightforward parts, but the cost per part can be higher, especially for complex or low-volume parts.

Forging vs. Stamping

Both forging and stamping are fundamental techniques in the manufacturing industry, shaping metal into desired forms. However, they each possess unique characteristics that make them ideal for different applications.

Understanding Forging

precision forging

Forging is a metalworking process that involves the application of compressive forces to shape metal. It is often used for pieces that require extreme strength and durability, such as engine components or tools. There are several types of forging, including open-die forging, closed-die forging, and roll forging. 

Key Differences

Here are the key differences between these two processes:

Production Volume: Forging is typically used for lower volume production due to the high energy and labor costs involved in the process. In contrast, stamping is ideal for high-volume production due to its ability to quickly produce identical parts once the initial die has been created.

Material Strength: Forging tends to create parts with superior strength and durability. The compressive forces involved in the forging process align the grain structure of the metal, improving its mechanical properties. Stamping, on the other hand, does not significantly alter the metal’s grain structure.

Complexity of Shapes: Stamping can achieve more complex shapes and finer details compared to forging, thanks to the use of custom dies that can be precisely machined to create any desired shape.

Cost: Forging has high startup costs and is more labor-intensive, making it more expensive for small quantities. Stamping has higher initial costs due to the need for custom dies, but it becomes cost-effective in large production runs.

Pitfalls of Stamping Process

While the stamping process has its advantages, it is not without its pitfalls. Understanding these can help us devise strategies to mitigate them and ensure the quality and efficiency of the process. 

Die and Tool Wear

In stamping, dies and tools are subjected to significant stress due to the high pressures involved. Over time, this can lead to wear and tear, affecting the quality of the stamped components. Regular maintenance and using high-quality custom metal stamping dies are essential to counter this issue.

Material Waste

When producing stamped parts, especially complex ones, there can be a substantial amount of material waste. The challenge lies in designing the process to minimize this waste, known as ‘scrap,’ as much as possible.

Dimensional Accuracy

Ensuring dimensional accuracy in stamped parts can be a challenge. Factors like material properties, die design, and stamping press conditions can influence the final part’s accuracy. Adopting precision sheet metal stamping practices and using custom sheet metal stamping dies can help maintain tight tolerances.


Springback is a phenomenon where the metal sheet ‘springs back’ to its original shape after the stamping force is removed. It can affect the final part’s dimensional accuracy, particularly when working with high-strength materials. To mitigate springback, factors such as die design, stamping force, and material properties must be carefully controlled.

Surface Defects

Stamping processes can sometimes cause surface defects on the metal parts, such as scratches, marks, or dents. These defects not only affect the part’s aesthetics but can also impact its function. Regular die maintenance and the use of appropriate lubricants can help prevent these defects.


As we’ve explored, both metal stamping and metal fabrication play vital roles in the manufacturing industry. Each process offers unique advantages and is best suited for specific applications. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial for making informed decisions based on your project requirements. 

At Chengli Hardware, we’re experts in both sheet metal stamping and metal fabrication, offering customized solutions tailored to our client’s needs. If you’re looking for high-quality, precision metal components, we invite you to explore our services and get in touch with our team today. We’re ready to make your project a success!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is metal stamping and fabrication?

Metal stamping is a manufacturing process used to convert flat metal sheets into specific shapes. Metal fabrication is a broader term that encompasses various processes including stamping, used to build metal structures or components.

2. Is stamping a fabrication?

Yes, stamping is considered a type of metal fabrication process. It’s used to produce high volumes of identical metal components.

3. Is sheet metal a fabrication?

Sheet metal can be used in fabrication processes to create components and structures. Therefore, it’s accurate to say sheet metal is involved in fabrication, but it is not fabrication itself.

4. What is metal fabrication called?

Metal fabrication is often referred to as metalworking. It involves processes like welding, cutting, forming, and machining to create metal parts and structures from raw materials.

5. What are the disadvantages of stamping?

Some disadvantages of stamping include the high initial cost of the stamping dies and the limitations on part depth and complexity. It also might not be cost-effective for low-volume productions.

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