Self Assessment is Critical During Challenging Times

I began researching articles on self-assessment. I find that I am unable to express the value and need for self-assessment any better than this article:

Whether personal or organizational, an honest self assessment helps you define a path for production and business growth.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Build Confidence and Skill for better Production and Business Results

The two fundamental needs for growth in any business operation are confidence and ability. You must have the talent and technology to form components from the materials you choose to support. Confidence comes from a strong knowledge base to try new materials and technologies and know that you can recover and learn from failures. Both confidence and ability go together. Confidence without ability is just arrogance. Ability without confidence leads to inertia.

The pace of change in sheet metal forming over the past 25 years was swift for an industry that was relatively stable for over a century.

  • Steel suppliers introduced over 2,500 new grades.
  • Aluminum demand grew by over 4% per year from 2011 to 2019, in part because of increased use of aluminum components in transportation.
  • Mass reduction and sustainable manufacturing continues to change how we use resources.
  • New materials led to new technologies in forming.
  • Virtual simulation changed how we design and test forming processes and tooling.

We find that many forming organizations, large and small, struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

Our original goal for 4M is to provide training to forming industry professionals. We realize that just training isn’t enough to support the deeper needs of the industry. The volume of changes across most of the aspects of the industry are overwhelming for many professionals. Even much of the available training is complex and ambiguous. Much of the importance of tensile properties for those who actually form falls in knowing Yield Strength, Ultimate Tensile Strength, and the effect of variables on springback. So much additional meaning is attached, that we lose focus on what is important to those who stamp metal.

Our new program at 4M focuses on our client’s capabilities and goals. We guide clients through a self-assessment to define abilities, issues, production targets, and business goals. Once understood, we support a review of the organization’s skills, tools, and processes focused on meeting current forming challenges. The result of this review is a set of recommendations to meet current targets along with activities to move toward meeting business goals. We will then work with the client to assess any improvement projects and to support execution and measurement of the project.

Beyond teaching, our goal is to support formed component suppliers to manage their pace of change in materials and technologies, optimize production and business performance, and build better supply chains.

We hope you will follow us as we continue to develop and improve our program. We are here for you should you need help moving forward in these exciting and dynamic times.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Automation Adoption Implications on the Workforce

The latest study from the Center for Automotive Research focuses on Automation in the Manufacturing Environment.  Consistent with other surveys, finding skilled workers is the most significant challenge facing manufacturing companies.  But another key finding is that for all the information that we can gather from Industry 4.0/IIOT/new equipment investment, fewer than 8% of the surveyed companies are fully utilizing the sensor capabilities.  One respondent said that their company is using its new equipment in much the same way as it used the old machines.

Which makes me think:  Of course we want new employees to be well-versed in the technology we are using.  But shouldn’t we expect the same from our current workforce? Shouldn’t we train them the skills needed to best use currently available  equipment/ practices/ materials?

Read the full report at

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New to Hot Stamping?

Mike Austin of Diversified Tooling Group writes about Hot Stamping in the latest issue of the Stamping Journal, He highlights the many ways that hot forming is so much more complex than conventional cold stamping. Just one: Problems from friction appear differently in hot stamping- because there is a different root cause, there is a different corrective action. Free flow of metal into the cavity minimizes friction, but the critical cooling rate is difficult to achieve uniformly across the part without intimate contact with water cooled dies.

Read more about the complexities of hot stamping at 

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Manufacturing Process, Materials, Metal Forming | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Combat Risk of Job Loss with Training

By 2022, the World Economic Forum forecasts 75 million manufacturing-related job losses globally, but there will be 133 million new jobs available to those with proper skills. 54% of employees at large companies need significant re-training and up-skilling for these jobs. Urgent challenges for businesses and policymakers include providing reskilling opportunities, enabling remote work and building safety nets to protect at-risk workers and communities.

Read more from the World Economic Forum.

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Industry Outlook | Leave a comment

​Aluminium Alloy Differences and Designations

​Sheet aluminium producers have created proprietary alloys that fall into the 5XXX and 6XXX families. Each family shares similar characteristics, but each alloy retains unique features. For example, AA6022 has the strength of AA6111 and the formability of AA6016A, but may be more costly since the low copper and low iron requirements make it difficult to produce from recycled stock. Certain alloys may be available only from specific companies, which may be marketed under trademarked names – such as Advanz (Novelis), Superlite (Aleris), or Surfalex (Constellium).

Read more about Aluminum Alloys at Aluminium Insider.

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Materials | Leave a comment

​Body Structure Part Strength on the 2019 Chevy Silverado

​An article containing information about advanced high strength steel content in 2019/2020 vehicles also has photos taken at I-CAR’s booth at SEMA 2018. These photos highlight sections of the 2019 Silverado body, with several of the parts labeled with strength levels and grade. You can see that GMs strategy on their new truck is to use 6XXX aluminum on the door skin paired with 5XXX for the inner.  You can also see some of the parts where they use up to 1500 MPa steel.

See the slideshow at the bottom of article from Repairer Driven News .

-Danny Schaeffler, and

2019 Silverado Body Structure

2019 Silverado Body Structure Materials


Posted in Manufacturing Process, Materials | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

​​iPhones will be Assembl​ed​ in the US​? Unlikely​.

​​High volume low margin production goes to low cost countries. Equipment and skills available in US transition to higher margin value-added production. Even if manufacturers want to move production back to the US, investment in automation and appropriate talent is needed – and that’s not necessarily quick to pull off.

Read more about the prospects of Apple manufacturing in the US in an article from the NY Times.

Image credit:

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Industry Outlook, Manufacturing Process | Leave a comment

​Mazda Uses 1300 MPa (190 ksi) Cold Stamped Steel

​The 2019 Mazda 3 uses 1300 MPa (190,000 psi) steel for the front pillar and roof rail inners; the hinge pillar, roof rail, and side sill inner reinforcements, and the No. 2 crossmember. This cold-stampable steel was jointly developed by NSSMC (Nippon-Sumitomo) and JFE Steel, and will be used throughout Mazda’s lineup. Joining and repair techniques need to be adjusted to account for this ultra high strength achieved by an engineered microstructure.​

​​Details from Mazda are in their Press Release.
Details on the crash load path and expanding AHSS use at Mazda are shown at Repairer Driven News.

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Materials, Metal Forming | Tagged , | Leave a comment

​SpaceX Starship/BFR Rocket Materials

​​SpaceX will use 3XX stainless steel for their Starship and Super Heavy rocket booster due to better performance compared with carbon fiber over the spectrum of operating temperatures and conditions encountered. @ElonMusk shows he has more than just a passing awareness of materials and manufacturing in his recent interview with @PopMech. In it, Musk describes how material selection affects stiffness, fracture toughness, and of course cost. He talks about a novel approach to cooling the metal surface by transpiration, where cryogenic fuel evaporates after seeping through micro-pores in the outer layer of a double-walled shell. Novel in aerospace, that is. The evaporation of water from plant leaves is another example of transpiration.
The interview is in Popular Mechanics.
The feasibility of transpiration is covered in Teslarati.

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Manufacturing Process, Materials, Metal Forming | Leave a comment

​​Thinner​ is not always better

​​In the case of electrical steels, thinner sheets improves motor efficiency – crucial to meet the needs of hybrid/electric vehicles. But more laminations need to be stamped from this thinner metal to get to the same stator height. An article from steelmaker voestalpine says that at least 60 additional high-precision stamping lines/presses will be needed by 2025 for production of 25 million drive motors with a lamination thickness of 0.25 mm rather than the current 0.35 mm. Not highlighted in the article is the likelihood of a greater cost per ton to produce this value added product at a thinner gauge.

​​Read more from voestalpine here.

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Manufacturing Process, Materials | Leave a comment

20,000 to be hired by 2023 at POSCO as part of US$40 billion investment

Automating a 3.52 million ton Gwangyang Steel Mill blast furnace, expanding production capability of their “Giga Steel” and establishing power generation facilities using byproduct gases will use almost 60% of the investment. Other funds will be devoted to secondary battery materials and upgrading lithium-extracting technologies, with a similar amount going to their energy and infrastructure businesses.

Read more about Posco’s plan.

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Servo Press Technology Articles at Metalforming Magazine

Servo press selection and usage articles are curated into a Top 10 list at Metal Forming Magazine. These articles will take you through the justification process by highlighting their benefits and what these presses offer above and beyond flywheel-driven presses. In addition to the potential for increased throughput, optimizing forming velocity during the press stroke helps reduce heat build-up, lube burn-off, and minimize die wear.

Read more about servo presses at MetalForming Magazine.

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Manufacturing Process, Metal Forming | Leave a comment

4M and EQS: 4Q 2018 Sheet Metal Industry News

In the 4th Quarter of 2018, we at 4M and EQS sent out a newsletter covering info related to the sheet metal forming industries. Topics in this recent newsletter included material selection strategies at automakers, friction stir welding, servo presses, Tesla build quality, and laser blanking.  If you want to get on the distribution list of future issues, please sign up on the EQS website.

Here’s a reprint of that newsletter from late 2018:

—- 2018 Newsletter Reprint —-

This is Danny Schaeffler, and I want to welcome you to the (re)inaugural Newsletter from Engineering Quality Solutions and 4M Partners!

In these mailings, I’ll be highlighting the latest news that I think that sheet metal users and producers will find interesting and informative. We do want to hear from you – if there are topics you want to know more about, just let me know. I’ll see what I can find and report back to everyone in a future issue. I might even include the information in the “Knowledge Base” section of!

Know anyone who might enjoy this newsletter? Please do forward this on to them! They can get on the mailing list here. It’s our intention to send out a newsletter around 4 to 6 times a year.

Finally, if you’d prefer these newsletters to go to a different email address (or you’d prefer not to receive it at all), please let me know.

—- Sheet Forming Industry News —-

Automakers need to consider strength, stiffness, manufacturing, weight, and cost – and many more characteristics – when choosing between sheet steel and aluminum alloys for their body structure. Steelmakers and aluminum producers are eager to help: 2 tons of sheetmetal are purchased for 17 million vehicles sold each year in the US – there is no other industry with such high-volume sales opportunities. Read my article in the May 2018 issue of MetalForming Magazine!


Friction Stir Dovetailing developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory joins thick plates of aluminum to steel through a combination of mechanical interlocking and metallurgical bonding formed during a single process. See the article here and see a video of the process here.


SET-Chicago to start laser blanking in 2019: SET Enterprises orders laser blanking line from Schuler Group for exposed/unexposed automotive stampings. 3 laser heads to cut blank shapes with straight line cutting speeds >100 m/min from a 60 m/min moving coil. Press release.


XL Specialized Trailers switched to HSLA steel and saved 1100 pounds (20%) from their frame on their heavy-haul trailer. No design changes needed, just steel grade substitution. Article.


Great article on aluminum lubrication by Chris Fletcher of Tower Metalworking Fluids @TowerMWF! You should consider corrosion, cleaning, and characteristics of metal alloy in lube selection. Article

Chris is also speaking at the MetalForming Magazine “Lubrication Technology for Metalformers” conference in February. He’ll highlight the importance of selecting the right lube for each type of sheet metal. Conference.


183 new North American automotive vehicle launches from 2016-2018 is forecast to decrease to 155 new vehicles between 2019-2021 [from Harbour Results]. Considering each new launch comes with a price tag of close to $1BB to the automaker, there is still significant spending going on, However, with 10 fewer launches per year, and $150MM or so in stamping tools per launch, that’s roughly $1.5BB fewer dollars being spent in the tooling industry each year.


There are only 35 high end Schuler servo stamping presses in auto manufacturing worldwide and the one at Tesla is the first one in the US. The equipment has allowed Tesla to form unique parts, like the Model 3 front fender, which engineers say has greater depth in a single piece of stamped steel than any other fender in production. Tesla chose to build a factory to handle all of its seat production, making it unique in an industry where its competitors all outsource seats. This is a good article highlighting manufacturing of the Model 3..


Speaking of Tesla, they are taking steps to improve their build quality. There is a recently issued patent describing a new type of clamping assembly method that allows some flexibility between panels during manufacturing. Article.


Want to learn more about the metal you are using? See the online classes offered from 4M:
What Goes on Mill Certs
Tensile Testing
Steel Manufacturing
Thinning Strain Analysis

———— ———— ————

This newsletter is distributed by Danny Schaeffler, Ph.D., President – Engineering Quality Solutions and Chief Content Officer – 4M Partners

Danny Schaeffler supports automotive and non-automotive OEMs and their stamping supply chain, as well as steel and aluminum producers and their service centers. His 30-year career has focused on materials selection and optimization, tooling buyoff, field formability analyses, manufacturing process improvement, and cost savings/cost avoidance projects. Whether you need problem solving, hands-on analysis, or materials guidance through EQS or training and professional development through 4M, be sure to contact Danny with your sheet metal forming challenges!

Posted in Industry Outlook, Lubricants, Materials, Metal Forming | Leave a comment

Total Elongation in a Tensile Test May Not Be The Best Formability Indicator​ for AHSS

​Tensile test elongation is not the best way to assess formability of AHSS steel. ​In a tensile test, you are averaging deformation over a ​2 inch (or more) gauge length. ​SSAB just published a good article on this, and coincidentally, I’ve written about this ​topic ​in an article to be published in​ an upcoming issue of MetalForming Magazine. ​​

Read more from SSAB in their article, The Forming Myth

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

​Made it to the “Top 5 in 365” list at!

The “Top 5 in 365” list of the five most-popular stamping related articles on is out, and 4M is on it!

From Bill Frahm’s article, Statistics and Probability for Better Decisions in Manufacturing,

“If you manage the manufacture of high-volume products, you also generate large volumes of data. Buried in that data are pieces of information that can direct you to make better decisions and improve your manufacturing efficiency. The key to reading your data lies in the mathematics of statistics.”

Bill makes the analogy that baseball statistics like batting average against lefties in night games is simply measuring performance under a set of certain conditions. Collecting meaningful data in a stamping plant, like scrap rates as a function of tensile properties, tonnage, and lubricant, can be similarly enlightening and allow you to estimate your success under specific conditions. This will result in fewer expensive die tryouts and improve productivity. He concludes:

” There is no real magic to it. Statistical analysis can provide you with a greater level of awareness of your operations and anticipate events and performance for better results.”

Read more at:

-Danny Schaeffler, and

Posted in Industry Outlook, Management, Manufacturing Reliability | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment