Stamping Parts is a metal plate. It is thinner than a metal plate (0.25 inches or thicker) but thicker than a metal foil (.006 inches or thinner). The most common are steel and aluminum of various specifications (thicknesses). It is available with various coatings to improve corrosion resistance or surface finish. Sheet metal is made by taking a large ingot and rolling it into a long strip of desired thickness. This long, flat piece of metal is then rolled into a roll, sent directly or sliced, and then sent to the machine shop.
At a very high level, sheet metal punching is similar to using a hole punch on paper. The top tool clamps the material on a properly shaped bottom tool and pushes through it to form a hole (or other feature). But for sheet metal, your material can reach a quarter of an inch of steel, and a punch is a multi-million dollar, many ton high-precision mechanical part. Modern industrial sheet metal punches are CNC-operated with an accuracy of 0.005 inches or more, and can handle hundreds or thousands of punches per minute. They can usually hold hundreds of tools and automatically feed into the bill of materials.
Stamping requires the use of different tool sets (top and bottom dies) for each unique feature-each diameter of the hole, square or rectangular cuts, or special features require their own tool (or multiple tools). The good news is that the tools are relatively cheap (most tools are $ 100- $ 1000), and most vendors will provide a tool library with a large number of standard vulnerabilities and features to help you get started. If you work closely with suppliers, ask for their punch list and design parts to use their stock punchers. This will save you a lot of money, and it will also save them the hassle (and delivery time) of ordering new tools.
Stamped parts are priced by operation. Every operation is cheap-only a few cents per hit, but a large part can easily require hundreds of hits, and they add up. You also need to pay for any custom tools you need, and if you're not careful, the cost of each set is hundreds of dollars, which can easily exceed the cost of parts.
Due to the nature of laser cutting, you can only cut straight holes into parts. This means that the laser can't achieve many of the cool 3D functions on stamped parts (extrusion holes, blinds, point bends, bumps, etc.). On the plus side, lasers don't require any tools. Since there are no tools to break off, the minimum hole size is limited only by the laser beam size, not the material thickness. It should be noted that there are many materials that are dangerous to cut on the laser-the coated galvanized metal can produce gaseous cyanide or chlorine gas, which needs to be properly treated and vented. Lasers are usually more expensive than punching, which makes them a great way to produce small, high-detail parts, but not for large ones.