Little work has been done on quantifying the environmental impacts and costs of sheet metal stamping. In this work we present models that can be used to predict the energy requirements, global warming potential, human health impacts, and costs of making drawn parts using zinc (kirksite) die-sets and hydraulic or mechanical presses. The methodology presented can also be used to produce models of stamping using other die materials, such as iron, for which casting data already exists.

An unprecedented study on the environmental impacts and costs of zinc die-set production was conducted at a leading Michigan die-maker. This analysis was used in conjunction with electrical energy measurements on forming presses to complete cradle-to-gate impact and cost analyses on producing small batch size hood and tailgate parts. These case studies were used to inform a generalized model that allows engineers to predict the impacts and costs of forming based on as little information as the final part material, surface area, thickness and batch size (number of units produced).

The case studies show that press electricity is an insignificant contributor to the overall impacts and costs. The generalized models highlight that while costs for small batch production are dominated by the die-set, the environmental impacts are often dominated by the sheet metal. These findings explain the motivation behind research into die-less forming processes such as incremental sheet forming, and emphasize the need to minimize sheet metal scrap generation in order to reduce environmental impacts.

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