Connecticut Spring & Stamping

Connecticut Spring & Stamping (6)

Firearm manufacturing has come a long way from the days when a room full of gunsmiths was needed to ensure accurate, quality weapons. Nonetheless, manufacturing firearm parts still requires a deep understanding of how the many small parts work together to create a successful weapon.

With the rapid growth in the firearm market, together with trends that are moving toward smaller weapons and those made out of polymer, it is more important than ever that firearm part manufacturing make use of design development, prototyping expertise, and manufacturing innovations.

Firearm springs and stamped parts

Springs and stamped parts make up a large percentage of today’s firearms. There can be as many as 20 springs in a typical weapon, which may include compression springs used to resist applied compression forces or to store energy in the push mode, helical extension springs that store energy and exert a pulling force, and torsion springs with coils that are twisted rather than pulled to store energy. From as small as a compression spring with a .050 outside diameter  to as large as a spring made from .062 wire or a recoil spring that is 2.5 feet long.  The springs are essential to the proper operation of such components as the ejector, magazine, and recoil assemblies. Springs have to perform properly in the extremely limited space available in most firearms, and must be durable enough to sustain repeated use.

Firearms springs can be made with music wire, high tensile rocket wire or stranded wire, and can be made of many materials, depending upon the application. Chrome silicon, stainless steel, 17-7 PH and 17-4 PH are the most frequently used material because of their strength, durability, and corrosion resistance.

Stamped firearms parts include trigger bars and assemblies, slide stops with springs, and safety assemblies. Similar to springs, the stamped parts also have to operate within a very constrained space. Trigger bars must fit within the envelope of the gun and not interfere with the spring. The link from the trigger to the sear (the part of the trigger mechanism that holds the hammer back until the correct amount of pressure has been applied to the trigger) has an extremely narrow profile to operate properly without getting in the way of the trigger bar components.

Process starts with development and prototyping

The key to manufacturing quality firearm springs and stamped parts is engineering and support services, including making recommendations to improve manufacturability throughout the design and development process.

A good design process depends on good communication. At Connecticut Spring & Stamping, after an initial phone or other contact, the customer sends a drawing or CAD and experts offer feedback about the design and the need for secondary operations or machining. There may be several meetings or conference calls, when everyone can look at the screen and make necessary changes. Working through all these changes may take numerous online meetings or face-to-face visits. Prototyping is then used to assist the customer accomplish the right design. During prototyping, two or three variations may be tested at one time.

Many initial firearm spring designs are overstressed, approaching the limit of the spring design capability because designers want to do more than is theoretically possible with the extremely small amount of space assigned for the spring. With an overstressed design, the spring will take a permanent set, losing its length and load. To guard against this, significant development and prototyping is necessary.

For example, one major firearms manufacturer began its design process for a 40 millimeter (mm) pistol recoil spring using standard music wire. Standard music wire often just does not have high enough tensile strength to support load requirements and testing indicated the spring could not take the shock.

During the spring consultation and prototyping phases of the design process, Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS), which has a 70-year history and diverse expertise in developing stranded wire and shaped wire springs, recommended the use of chrome silicon flat wire. The chrome silicon material, widely used in the manufacturing of pistons in the automobile industry, can withstand higher heat and shock than music wire. The design process included several rounds of prototypes. The firearms manufacturer adopted the recommendation and the spring made from the chrome silicon flat wire was successful.

A successful development process is also helped by knowledge of the gun industry and experience with the interaction of parts in a weapon. Knowing the variations in how a similar part works across many different models of firearms will lend itself to the next one.

This type of knowledge is important in dealing with the many changes resulting from an important industry trend – the move towards slimmer profile, smaller weapons that are meant to be concealed. Calling on knowledge gained from designing medical and surgical tools, where there is also little room to work, CSS steers firearms customers towards design directions that can be successfully manufactured. Options include using secondary machine operations to make small features.

Another growing trend is the use of polymer in pistols for both cost and weight reasons. In this case, CSS recommended stamped front and rear struts to provide the reinforcement needed for a lighter weight firearm with no steel frame. Stamping the front and rear struts strengthen the polymer frame without the need to machine the entire front of the frame.

Manufacturing processes play an important role in part quality and consistency

It takes a great deal of technical, engineering expertise to get consistency in firearm springs and stamped parts. The 127,000th part must be just like the first, and a firearm must still work if a replacement part is inserted. CSS uses a Cpk (process capability index) to demonstrate that tolerances meet specifications for the parts critical to gun functioning. This involves taking about 30 measurements and inputting them into a software program; some dimensions are monitored directly with probes and lasers. An operator controls the system with lasers and probes, and if the process hits a point where the Cpk is outside of specifications, it shuts down until corrected.

One of the most important manufacturing processes used in developing springs and stamped parts for firearms is heat treating, which is frequently used to alter the parts’ physical properties to make the part shape and size meet specifications. Firearm manufacturers must have an excellent working knowledge of heat treating and processing to ensure that parts end up in the correct shape.

Every part has different requirements and different processes can be used for firearm part heat treating, including atmosphere heat treating in bulk or racks, and non-atmosphere heat treating. The non-atmosphere method is cheaper but it can leave scales that can be unsightly; these can be removed by a post process. The customer may choose to use a less expensive heat treat process, but later pay to clean the parts. Heat treating option selection is frequently price driven.

Heat treating can correct distortion that can occur in a spring due to the extreme stress placed on wire when forming a spring. When magazine springs are formed, they are often intentionally distorted and may not meet the print specification. To correct this, spring manufacturers can intentionally introduce stress into the springs when formed in a distorted fashion, then process the springs in an inline oven to stress relieve them. After they are batch heat-treated, they take on the correct shape.

For example, one customer wanted to use 302 stainless steel for a new gun’s magazine spring. The new weapon was to be made of all stainless steel components so it would be completely corrosion-resistant. CSS engineers determined that the original design was not acceptable for the overall requirements and that they needed more load on the spring. Engineers suggested the use of 17-7PH material, heat treated at 900° to get the required spring properties to take the higher load.

Over a six-month period, numerous prototypes were developed and tested; the design was modified and improved to get the load and compression the customer wanted. Deflection and travel tests were conducted and a short run of parts was made out of both materials to see which would work better. The customer eventually selected the 17-7PH spring; although the ultimate solution did involve a material increase, the gun was released recently to great acclaim.

Heat treating is also used for stamped parts. For example, a trigger bar may be stamped flat but can distort when heat treated; the correct heat treat process must be used to ensure the part will be the correct thickness.

An accumulation of knowledge is definitely important in the firearms industry. Manufacturing quality parts depends upon working towards a solution rather than just giving customers what is on an initial drawing.

Dale Pereira & Pete Marut are at Connecticut Spring and Stamping, a Farmington, CT company with more than 160 firearms industry customers. The company makes every manner of firearm spring, as well as slide-stop assemblies, interceptor latches, magazine tube assemblies, saddle rings, speed latches, action bars, sights and trigger bars for many different hand guns and rifles, including the AR15/M16 rifle platform.

For more information, visit: www.ctspring.com

Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS), a manufacturer of precision parts for the medical, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide, announces that it will showcase its expertise in producing precision medical product components for medical device OEMs, including springs and progressive stampings, at MD&M Minneapolis from October 31 – November 1, 2012, to be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

CSS has a large and expanding business supplying medical device OEMs with tight tolerance springs and metal stampings used in minimally invasive handheld surgical devices, endoscopic clip appliers, suturing devices, and staple removers. They offer prototyping and complete new product development services, specializing in collaborating with customers to optimize their design objectives.

The company offers low volume, short-run spring manufacturing, as well as higher volume production and warehousing. Springs are produced according to customer specifications, and are manufactured from a wide range of flat stock and round wires, ranging from 002-inch to .350-inch in diameter. With an expertise in part and tooling design, CSS develops sophisticated tooling to produce extremely tight stack tolerances, less than a thousandth of an inch. Critical CNC machined features may also be added to complicated stampings in the company’s CNC department.

CSS will also showcase their metal stamping expertise in the medical device arena. Drive channels, jaws, surgical staples, and titanium clips are just of few of the many components CSS has produced for assemblies used in handheld devices. CSS capabilities include prototyping and high speed progressive die stamping from 30-300 tons, in-die tapping, reel to reel processes, modular die options, and short run stamping.

Headquartered in Farmington, CT, Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) is a manufacturer of all varieties of close tolerance precision parts for the medical, electronics, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide. They provide springs, metal stampings, machined stampings & sub-assemblies for OEM’s worldwide. In business since 1939, CSS prides itself in design and engineering involvement that starts with product development, and moves through prototyping, manufacturing, and assembly to warehousing and point of use. Headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut, CSS has warehousing facilities in Puerto Rico, Mexico, China, and Singapore that allow our customers to build products with just in time (JIT) inventory.

For more information, visit: www.ctspring.com



Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS), a manufacturer of precision parts for the medical, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide, announces that it helped Aragon Surgical, a Palo Alto, CA-based startup medical device firm, to significantly reduce its costs by converting a fully machined jaw housing for a laparoscopic surgical device to a stamped part with machined features.

CSS uses its metal stamping expertise in the medical device arena, which includes prototyping and high speed progressive die stamping from 30-300 tons, in-die tapping, reel to reel processes, modular die options and short run stamping. The company has supplied stampings for hand held surgical devices, endoscopic clip appliers, suturing devices, and staple removers.   Drive channels, jaws, surgical staples, and titanium clips are some of the components produced for these assemblies.

According to Brandon Loudermilk, Aragon Surgical’s senior research and development engineer, the company was looking to reduce the overall cost of the firm’s previously released laparoscopic surgical device by decreasing costs on as many parts as possible. The jaw housing was one of the higher priced parts, making it a good candidate for alternatives. In addition, there were problems getting sufficient parts from the existing supplier.

At the initial contact with Aragon Surgical, engineers at Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) began the process by looking at the part and discussing ways it might be stamped instead of machined from a solid tube.  At first Aragon did not believe it would be possible to stamp the part to be perfectly round and still function properly. Engineers at CSS hosted several conversations and went through numerous steps to arrive at the most important features on the part and figure out how it could be stamped within the necessary tolerances. In just a few short weeks, they came to an agreement and were able to begin working on production tooling.

CSS engineers showed Aragon another piece they make, a lock barrel for a high end commercial door lock that was similar in many ways to the jaw housing. CSS engineers went over the Aragon part print with a fine-toothed comb, adjusting the 3-dimensional CAD model and marking up the original drawing with their initial ideas. The groups discussed the tight dimensions, stepping through each feature to see if they could hold the tolerances, looking at the mating parts to see what the critical features were and how the mating parts interacted, discussing which features were critical and agreeing on which other features could be machined out, and how the part would have to be aligned.  

The Aragon Surgical part requires a unique rotary head used on milling the portion of the part that gets machined after it is stamped. After the part is formed, it goes into the milling operation to finish mill certain surfaces that need a particular surface finish and accuracy. The tooling costs were significant, but the high per part savings made the investment worth it.  

When the part was made as part of a tube, it was held to a tolerance of plus or minus 1/1000th of an inch. The stamped part is capable of plus or minus 2/1000th of an inch.  Even though the tolerance is 1/1000th more, the part is fully functional in the design, at a significant savings. The startup firm is conservative with its capital, and went through numerous discussions to arrive at an agreement, which included amortizing the tool costs used to stamp the part. Loudermilk estimates that the initial run was 20-30 percent cheaper; when the tooling costs come out the new stamped jaw housing is 50-60 percent cheaper than the machined version, while still meeting all the design specifications.

Headquartered in Farmington, CT, Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) is a manufacturer of all varieties of close tolerance precision parts for the medical, electronics, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide. They provide springs, metal stampings & sub-assemblies for OEM’s worldwide.  In business since 1939, CSS prides itself in design and engineering involvement that starts with product development, and moves through prototyping, manufacturing, and assembly to warehousing and point of use. Headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut, CSS has warehousing facilities in Puerto Rico, Mexico, China, and Singapore that allow our customers to build products with just in time (JIT) inventory.

For more information visit: www.ctspring.com or www.aragonsurgical.com

Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS), a manufacturer of precision parts for the medical, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide, announces that it will be showcasing its broad technical expertise in developing and manufacturing precision medical product components, including springs and progressive stampings, at BIOMEDevice Boston from April 6-7, 2011. The trade show, featuring the latest products and innovations from the medical device and biopharma design and manufacturing industries, will be held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. CSS will be located at booth 918.

CSS will be displaying their tight tolerance springs, which are used in minimally invasive handheld surgical devices. They offer spring prototyping and complete new product development services. Low volume, short-run manufacturing is available, as well as higher volume production and warehousing. Springs are manufactured from a wide range of flat stock and round wires ranging from 002” to .350” in diameter and are produced according to customer specifications.

CSS will also showcase their metal stamping expertise in the medical device arena, which includes prototyping and high speed progressive die stamping from 30-300 tons, in-die tapping, reel to reel processes, modular die options and short run stamping. The company has supplied stampings for handheld surgical devices, endoscopic clip appliers, suturing devices, and staple removers. Drive channels, jaws, surgical staples, and titanium clips are some of the components produced for these assemblies.

“CSS has an expertise in assisting with part and tooling design, ultimately developing sophisticated tooling to produce extremely tight stack tolerances, less than a thousandth of an inch,” said Steve Dicke, vice president of sales and marketing at CSS. “We specialize in collaborating with customers to optimize their design objectives.”

Headquartered in Farmington, CT, Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) is a manufacturer of all varieties of close tolerance precision parts for the medical, electronics, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide. They provide springs, metal stampings & sub-assemblies for OEM’s worldwide. In business since 1939, CSS prides itself in design and engineering involvement that starts with product development, and moves through prototyping, manufacturing, and assembly to warehousing and point of use. Headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut, CSS has warehousing facilities in Puerto Rico, Mexico, China, and Singapore that allow our customers to build products with just in time (JIT) inventory.

For more information visit: www.ctspring.com

Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS), a manufacturer of precision parts for the aerospace, medical, firearms and defense industries worldwide, announces it will attend SME’s AeroDef 2011 Exposition, held April 5-7 in the Anaheim Convention Center. CSS will feature its ability to assemble components for a variety of aerospace applications in booth #1158.

CSS is an AS9100-certified manufacturer of stamped parts and springs to the aerospace industry, including safety critical components used in engines, cockpit instrumentation, and flight landing systems. As a certified Source supplier with ship to stock capabilities, CSS supplies components directly and indirectly to the most recognized industry leaders. CSS is also an authorized government spare parts supplier and maintains parts stores for aerospace customers. Well known for implementing Kanban production scheduling systems for customers, CSS offers just-in-time shipping of both small and large quantities.

CSS manufactures and assembles parts for a variety of aerospace applications in a range of specialized materials, including Titanium, Inconel X750 and 600, 17-7 PH, Hastelloy, Waspalloy, Ni-span, and Eligiloy. Part examples include stampings such as wire harness clips for holding wires in place inside the engine and frost shield assemblies on laser guidance systems for missiles and smart bombs. Other parts include blade locks, double torsion springs, spring regulators, and clutch springs, as well as retention and tension spring clips & compression springs.

The company participates in a variety of tailored programs, including Source Release programs for several large aerospace customers. CSS is registered as a Department of Defense trading partner, certified as a Commercial and Government Entity, and participates in the Defense Trade Controls program. “CSS specializes in collaborating with aerospace customers to achieve their design objectives,” said Steve Dicke, vice president of sales and marketing at CSS. “We are experts in assisting our customers with part design for manufacturability and consistency, ultimately developing sophisticated tooling to produce extremely tight stack tolerances, less than a thousandth of an inch.”

For more information on CSS’ technology for the aerospace industry, please visit booth #1158 at AeroDef.

Headquartered in Farmington, CT, Connecticut Spring & Stamping is a manufacturer of all varieties of close tolerance precision parts for the medical, electronics, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide. They provide springs, metal stampings & sub-assemblies for OEM’s worldwide. In business since 1939, CSS prides itself in design and engineering involvement that starts with product development, and moves through prototyping, manufacturing, and assembly to warehousing and point of use. Headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut, CSS has warehousing facilities in Puerto Rico and Singapore that allow our customers to build products with just in time (JIT) inventory.

For further information, please visit www.ctspring.com

Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS), a manufacturer of precision parts for the medical, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide, announces that it will be featuring its medical product components at MD&M West 2011, at the Anaheim Convention Center, from February 7-10, 2011. CSS will be showcasing its broad technical expertise in developing and manufacturing precision medical product components, including springs and progressive stampings, to the medical device marketplace at booth # 1339.

CSS will be displaying their tight tolerance springs, which are used in minimally invasive handheld surgical devices. Springs are manufactured from a wide range of flat stock and round wires ranging from 002” to .350” in diameter and are produced according to customer specifications. CSS offers spring prototyping and complete new product development services. Low volume, short-run manufacturing is available, as well as higher volume production and warehousing.

CSS will also showcase its metal stamping expertise in the medical device arena, which includes prototyping and high speed progressive die stamping from 30-300 tons, in-die tapping, reel to reel processes, modular die options and short run stamping. The company has supplied stampings for hand held surgical devices, endoscopic clip appliers, suturing devices, and staple removers. Drive channels, jaws, surgical staples, and titanium clips are some of the components produced for these assemblies.

“CSS has an expertise in assisting with part and tooling design, ultimately developing sophisticated tooling to produce extremely tight stack tolerances, less than a thousandth of an inch,” said Steve Dicke, vice president of sales and marketing at CSS. “We specialize in collaborating with customers to optimize their design objectives.”

About Connecticut Spring & Stamping:
Headquartered in Farmington, CT, Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) is a manufacturer of all varieties of close tolerance precision parts for the medical, electronics, aerospace, firearms and defense industries worldwide. They provide springs, metal stampings & sub-assemblies for OEM’s worldwide. In business since 1939, CSS prides itself in design and engineering involvement that starts with product development, and moves through prototyping, manufacturing, and assembly to warehousing and point of use. Headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut, CSS has warehousing facilities in Puerto Rico, Mexico, China, and Singapore that allow our customers to build products with just in time (JIT) inventory.

For further information, please visit http://www.ctspring.com or call 860. 677.1341

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