Many metal stamping processes use a metal strip as a raw material. Stamping operations get performed along the strip, and each component is cut from the metal strip upon completion.

With continuous reel stamping, also known as reel-to-reel metal stamping, the stamped pieces remain connected in their strip form and get spooled onto reels. These reels provide convenient transportation and simplify additional processing by secondary machinery and automated assembly equipment. 

Continuous reels have become essential for automating production lines as more original equipment manufacturers turn to robotic and automated assembly systems. At Excel Spring & Stamping, our extensive stamping portfolio includes continuous reel stamping and winding. An existing customer approached us to call on our expertise and reliability for a new continuous reel stamping project.

 

Continuous Reel Stamping

 

The Challenges

This project came with a few challenges for our team to solve. First, we needed to identify a reel material that would be strong enough to hold the wound parts without driving up costs. We also needed to ensure that the parts would not get distorted or damaged during handling and transit. The Excel team also had to find the best way to plate the reeled material, as well as identify the best orientation for the terminals to ensure compatibility with our customer’s downstream processes.

 

The Solution

While our stamping team began with wood reels, this material drove up the weight and transport costs for our customers. We designed and fabricated reels in-house to find a better solution, and ultimately landed on corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard reels solved the weight issue and were also returnable and reusable, which made them very eco-friendly. This offered cost savings that Excel was able to pass on to the customer.

Protecting parts during handling and transportation came down to very careful part winding. We added paper separators between each layer to mitigate the risk of interaction between layers that might result in surface distortion and abrasion. 

Initially, we used an outside vendor for plating operations. As a result, our team had to wrap each reel of parts and deliver it to the plating provider, who had to unwrap it, plate it, and re-reel it for transportation back to us. We tried multiple plating shops, though we quickly discovered that the process itself significantly increased the risk of part distortion. Instead of sending out reels for plating, we began using pre-plated materials to completely remove this problematic cycle. This resulted in much shorter production time, higher-quality parts, and exponentially lower incidences of defects.

Finally, we found that we needed to wrap each part reel in a specific direction to facilitate automated assembly at our client’s plant. Failing to do this would require the client to unwrap and rewrap the reel to face the terminals in the appropriate direction. 

 

The Results

Our customer was extremely pleased with the outcome of this project. Excel Spring & Stamping has worked on multiple projects for this client spanning several years and continues to enjoy a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with them. Our client had this to say about our work together:

“With the guidance and experience of the Excel team, we have been able to proceed through an intricate design process. The requirements set forth by national and international agencies demand the precision and repeatability offered by Excel’s manufacturing capability. They have the ability to offer parts on a reel that is orientated in such a manner as to allow downstream applications to assemble without human interaction.”

 

About Excel Spring & Stamping

Excel Spring & Stamping can produce continuous reels using a highly refined internal process that makes us an ideal provider for your continuous reel stamping needs. We strive to be innovative and eco-friendly in our operations, which is why we utilize corrugated reels that make our continuous reel processes sustainable and cost-effective. The experts at Excel Spring & Stamping will offer solutions that support your automated assembly equipment and processes.

If you have questions or would like to get started on your next project, please contact us today