Reliant Sourcing Solutions: Forging

Forging is a manufacturing process in which a metal workpiece is heated and shaped into a custom shape or design. The process employs rams or die presses to produce the compressive forces necessary to form and deform the part.

Forged products find application in countless industries, ranging from horseshoes to table legs to architectural components. The versatility of the forging process is largely due to fabricators taking advantage of the metal material’s natural grain flow and manipulating it to conform to the specific geometric contours of the desired part. As opposed to other manufacturing operations, such as cutting or casting, the forging process does not lose the natural grain flow contouring, merely directing or “bending” it into the desired direction.

Forcing processes are classified into three general categories: drawn out, upset, and squeezed by closed compression dies. Within these three categories are the more distinct forging processes, including automatic hot forging, cogging, impression die forging, press forging, roll forging, and swaging.

Benefits of Forging

The forging process offers several advantages over other manufacturing operations, such as:

  • Versatility. Forgings can be formed into virtually any shape or design.
  • Superior strength and structural integrity. Compared to cast parts, forged parts are better able to maintain their structural integrity under stress in extreme pressure and heat environments. Additionally, forged parts are comprised of a single piece rather than requiring welding operations for assembly, eliminating the risk of joint failure.
  • Greater material refinement. The forging process prevents the formation of defects, including those present in cast ingots and continuous cast bars.
  • Reliability. As the process minimizes defect formation, forged parts exhibit greater consistency from batch to batch compared to cast parts. Additionally, forged materials are more uniform in how they react to additional heat treatments.
  • Flexibility. Forging offers manufacturers the flexibility to easily adapt to changes in market demand.
  • Cost-effectiveness. As forged parts exhibit greater consistency than cast parts, forging operations require less stringent process controls and inspection than casting operations, reducing the total production costs over time.

Types of Forging

Manufacturers employ various kinds of forging processes, including:

Drop Forging
In the drop forging method, a hammer impacts the workpiece to deform it according to the die shape. There are two basic categories of drop forging: open die and closed die drop forging.

  • Open die drop forging: Also known as smith forging, open die forging involves workpiece deformation against a stationary anvil. In this forging method, the die or multiple dies do not enclose the workpiece.
  • Closed die drop forging: Also known as impression die forging, closed die drop forging involves the use of a die that encloses the metal material. The hammer die is generally also shaped according to the desired configuration of the final product. During closed die forging operations, the hammered metal material flows into the die cavities and assumes the shape of the enclosure once cooled.

Press Forging
Press forging operations involve the application of steady pressure or force (measured in seconds) against the metal workpiece to shape it according to customer specifications.

Upset Forging
Upset forging is one of the most widely used forging methods. The method applies compressive forces along the length of the workpiece, increasing the material’s diameter. It is used to manufacture items such as engine valves, bolts, screws, and fasteners.

Automatic Hot Forging
Automatic hot forging operations feed steel bars or other metal parts into one end of the forging machine. The parts are rapidly superheated and plastically deformed according to customer specifications, and emerge as hot forged products. This method offers a high output rate and is suitable for processing inexpensive materials.

Roll Forging
Roll forging increases the length and reduces the thicknesses of bars and other metal workpieces. In roll forging operations, a heated workpiece passes between two grooved rolls. As it rolls through the machinery, the workpiece is progressively flattened and shaped. This method generally imparts a favorable grain structure to the metal material.

Net-Shape and Near-Net-Shape Forging
Also known as precision forging, net-shape and near-net-shape forging processes produce parts that are equivalent to, or very nearly equivalent to, the final desired configuration without requiring extensive finishing operations. This method reduces the amount of material waste and the total cost of production.

Cold Forging
Cold forging is a forging method that takes place at room temperature with the workpiece gradually undergoing deformation until it assumes the desired shape and size. Near-net-shape forged parts are generally produced in such operations. A commonly cold forged material is aluminum.

Induction Forging
Induction forging is characterized by its use of an induction heater as the primary heat source. Manufacturers use many of the above-mentioned forging processes in combination with induction forging.

Multidirectional Forging
Multidirectional forging forms the workpiece in multiple directions in a single stage. In this forging method, wedges distribute and redirect the force of the forging press to create the desired part.

Isothermal Forging
In isothermal forging operations, both the workpiece and the machine die are heated to the same temperature. To prevent oxidation, isothermal forging nearly always process superalloys in a vacuum or another controlled environment.

Partnering with Reliant Sourcing Solutions

At Reliant Sourcing Solutions, we provide turnkey solutions for virtually any manufacturing need, including forging. We can streamline the sourcing stage to help you find the global suppliers you need to take your forging project from prototype to finished product. Our team capitalizes on nearly 50 years of professional sourcing experience to improve our clients’ approach to design, prototyping, tooling, production, quality control, warehousing, and transportation.

If you need a sourcing partner for your next manufacturing project, contact us or request a quote today. A member of our team will be happy to speak with you about your concerns and requirements.