Norstan is a prominent provider of top quality precision electrical contacts and stampings for a variety of OEMs in industries around the world. Our ISO 9001 facility includes a fleet of state-of-the art equipment for metal stamping, cold heading, brazing, and metallurgy. For more than 50 years, our highly knowledgeable experts have offered engineering and manufacturing services to create highly specialized electrical components, such as switches, relays, and controls for automotive equipment, elevator operations, aerospace systems, and household appliances.
Since 1966, Norstan has been dedicated to creating complex custom electrical contacts, rivets, and stampings using cold forming techniques on a variety of materials, including silver, copper, gold, platinum, palladium, and brass. We carefully select component materials based on their conductivity, corrosion resistance, hardness, current load, cycle life, and component size. Cold forming, also known as cold heading, is a highly versatile process that allows components to be manufactured to highly detailed specifications without heating the base material. This allows the base metal to retain its tensile strength and durability during and after the forming process, for more robust and reliable components.
How the Process Works
Cold forming uses high speeds and pressures to forge parts from raw materials at room temperature. The material is not heated above its recrystallization temperature, and very little material is wasted, which makes cold forming more cost effective than other metal manufacturing methods, particularly for large production runs. Benefits of cold forming include:
- Improved production output
- Reduced waste
- Enhanced product strength and durability
- Superior surface quality
The cold forming process begins with unshaped metal stock or sheet metal. The stock is shaped against pre-cut dies through the use of powerful hammers, which exert sufficient pressure to displace the metal into the required shape. The amount of pressure exerted on the metal is carefully calibrated to be below the metal’s tensile strength, to ensure the metal does not crack during the forming process. Since the final product uses the full volume of metal stock inserted into the machine, rather than cutting away from it as in other machining techniques, cold forming produces little to no scrap. The final product retains the crystalline structure of the metal, resulting in a stronger component with a continuous surface finish.
Cold Forming vs. Machining Your Parts
When compared with standard machining processes, such as milling, cutting, and shearing, cold forming has multiple benefits.
As previously discussed, cold forming efficiently uses the entire metal stock, without waste. Because the component is not cut or sheared, the crystalline structure is not disrupted during the forming process, which allows the metal to retain high tensile strength and resiliency. Cold formed components are also at less risk of material contamination than machined parts.
Cold forming also can be used for a wide variety of part shapes and sizes with accuracy and repeatability. The process is highly automated, which allows for the production of parts that are prohibitively small for machining processes, quickly. Greater automation improves process reliability, while saving on labor and production costs.
What’s more, cold forming is highly accurate, with tolerances within +/- 0.002 in., without the need for additional manufacturing processes. Machining often requires additional tooling after the initial components is produced to meet the part specifications.
Overall, cold heading offers superior accuracy and greater economic returns than more traditional machining processes, and is ideal for high production runs of detailed components.
Superior Cold Formed Contacts and Stampings From Norstan
At Norstan, we are committed to providing the highest quality electrical contact and precision stampings for our customers worldwide. Our highly knowledgeable and dedicated engineers are capable of designing and producing cold-formed components for everything from aerospace components to residential appliances. We specialize in producing custom metal components quickly and efficiently with minimal waste; we continuously seek and apply the most recent technological advances to ensure that our customers receive the best quality components in the industry.
To learn more about our cold form contacts and stampings or our extensive portfolio of metal forming services, contact our professionals today.