Prototyping Materials. How do you decide what metal to use?

Prototyping materials like aluminum, stainless steel, beryllium copper, cold-rolled steel, phosphor bronze, titanium, 17-7 Ph, inconel, and monel are just some of the common choices stocked at metal service centers. So which is best for the application ?

Now you have to decide what temper you need. Soft, 1/4 hard, half hard, hard, spring temper – what to pick ???
Does it need to be heat treated for strength? Does it need to be anodized or chem-filmed ? Tin, nickel, cad, black oxided, gold or silver plated ? These are all questions you should ask when deciding what prototyping materials to use for your project.

What about the thickness ? .020″, 025″, .032″. Metals can be sourced in thicknesses as thin as .0005″ and up to a foot thick.

The bottom line is your application. An engineer must look at all of the requirements for the proper functioning in the device or product – strength, spring ability, the environment, the length of service and probably even the cost and decide through experience, trial and error and prototyping or maybe seek out good advice.

With over 40 years of metals, secondary processing and design experience, we’re here to help you in what ever way possible. Our tool and die makers have seen and designed thousands of different parts with punching, extruding, lancing and unique forming tools.

And, if this isn’t enough, we now have to deal with issues like ITAR and REACH . Prototyping materials such as grades of stainless steels and and specialty alloys like Inconels, Hastelloys and Titanium must come from countries on the US approved list of countries. In many cases, customers will specify in quality clauses or in the PO a statement saying that their parts must be made from ITAR material or even just domestic sources.

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