Hydraulic presses at work at Synergy Prototype Stamping where production-oriented tooling setups and designs benefit customers.
Durable dependability
Components are designed and built to withstand the toughest conditions using the latest heat treating technologies

ith a collection of presses ranging from a 15-ton mechanical press to a 600-ton hydraulic press, Synergy Prototype Stamping LLC can take on an order for a single part or 100,000 units. For customers in search of sources for low-volume production, it can be difficult to find companies that won’t charge high prototype piece prices or huge tooling expenses seen for high-volume jobs.

A manufacturer of aftermarket off-road vehicle parts turned to Synergy to manage parts from start to finish. “We can buy turnkey with finished weldments, fully coated and inspected and ready for our final packaging. That saves us time and additional management on our end,” says an engineering product manager at an off-road aftermarket vehicle part manufacturer.

“Since Synergy is vertically integrated, they’re able to provide more production-oriented tooling setups and designs in order to optimize their process and get us a better price per piece as well,” he says.

Synergy Prototype Stamping tooling design in-house
Synergy Prototype Stamping designs its own tooling in-house and cuts its own tooling using four CNC mills.
The off-road parts manufacturer gives Synergy a finished design and works together with its stamper on adjustments and modifications.

Synergy produces parts that are durable and corrosion resistant. By stamping the customer’s aftermarket off-road vehicle parts, designers are able to improve strength, reduce weight, optimize fitment and provide desired aesthetics.

“Some of the parts Synergy produces for us are underbody suspension components exposed to high-stress, high-impact, weathering and general abuse that also require precise tolerances and dimensional consistency,” says the vehicle parts manufacturer. “Synergy has been able to meet those demands without issue.”

He cites in-house laser hardening as a way Synergy produces inexpensive tooling “that can still process higher strength steels and achieve the results and consistency we need.”

Collaborative process
Clinton Township, Michigan-based Synergy Prototype Stamping produces 48 in. by 48 in. stampings for HVAC with extruded center holes. Press size, internal CMM capabilities and in-house 3- and 5-axis laser capabilities allow Synergy to provide customers with these services and to deep draw aluminum components. The latter is particularly desired among customers that make battery trays for electric vehicles.

Fracturing of materials is a big concern when working with various types of high-strength metals. “Having experience and knowledge of how certain materials stretch is invaluable in guiding our customers toward which materials to use, the radii needed and which thicknesses would work best,” says Ryan Willette, sales/estimating manager at Synergy Prototype Stamping.

We know how certain materials stretch. We guide our customers toward the radii and thickness.
Ryan Willette, Synergy Prototype Stamping
The company can produce small, intricate stampings requiring 1/2-ton hand benders up to 600-ton hydraulic presses for large stampings.

“We have found that we are most competitive on long-term production jobs up to 15,000 pieces per year,” Willette says. Turnaround times typically range from three to five weeks.

“We design our own tooling in-house and cut our own tooling using four CNC mills,” Willette says. Between Synergy Prototype Stamping and its sister company, Synergy Additive Manufacturing, Willette says the group offers in-house laser heat treating for hybrids between prototype and production tooling methods.

“This process is more cost competitive compared to conventional heat treating and allows good heat treat depths locally with no tool distortion,” Willette says. “Tool distortion, in many cases, creates the need for secondary machining after heat treating, which adds unnecessary costs.”

offer in-house laser heat treatment for hybrids
A core group of customers deemed essential businesses kept Synergy busy during the initial shutdowns due to COVID-19. Serving industries spanning automotive, aerospace, heating and cooling, oil and gas, and the military, Synergy has adjusted its offerings, including producing hand sanitizer stations for its customers.

“Our established relationships with customers have allowed us to withstand the initial shortages experienced [early on during the pandemic],” Willette adds.

Synergy Prototype Stamping and its sister company, Synergy Additive Manufacturing, offer in-house laser heat treating for hybrids between prototype and production tooling methods.
Moving forward
The last 10 years have proven challenging for tool and die makers in the U.S., says Willette. “One issue is finding a way to be competitive with die shops overseas,” he says. This is due in large part to continued use of outdated treating technologies such as flame and induction methods.
Laser heat treating of Class A fender die.
Laser heat treating of Class A fender die.
“These obsolete heat treating techniques induce substantial distortion into the dies. Not to mention the inconsistencies in quality,” Willette says. “This leads to additional hard milling operations being required to compensate for the distortion caused by conventional heat treating. Hard milling dies after conventional heat treating adds substantial cost and lead time to the current die manufacturing process.”

Synergy Additive Manufacturing LLC, also in Clinton Township, Michigan, has moved beyond older technologies and offers customers new heat treating solutions. “We have engineered advanced laser heat treating technology that results in minimal to no distortion on large dies, thereby eliminating the additional hard milling operations,” Willette says. “Synergy’s advance process algorithms keep the die surface temperature consistent within +/- 1 degree Celsius, resulting in superior hardness and consistency.”

Consistent temperature ensures the tool and die components no longer require additional processes. Turnaround times are faster, and die makers have the freedom to make design changes. Synergy’s laser heat treating technology has helped local die makers improve profit margins, provide improved quality, and reduce the time to market to compete with overseas die shops, according to Willette. “This is one goal Synergy will always strive for—bringing more tool and die jobs back to the United States.”
Synergy Prototype Stamping LLC,
Clinton Township, Michigan, 586/961-6109,