Forging was first introduced by smiths thousands of years ago. They used hammers or anvils to produce different products. Nowadays, many industries are adopting a quite popular manufacturing process. According to research, the revenue of forging will reach 31,6 billion U.S. Dollars by 2024.
Typically, forging involves shaping the metal by rolling, hammering, or pressing. The process works under different temperatures; it might be cold, warm, or hot. Generally, using the forging process offers you highly-strengthened metal for producing different parts.
Forging can be done by following various methods. This article will give you a complete overview of the forging process, its methods, and its applications. So, let’s delve into the article!
What does Forging Mean?
Forging is a metal shaping process that uses localized compressive forces. Usually, the force is applied on the metal workpiece in the form of hammer blows, presses, or rollings. You may power these tools through electricity, hydraulics, or compressed air. However, forging is classified according to the temperatures at which it works— cold (at room temperature), warm (300 to 800°C), and hot forging (above 800°C).
With the help of forging, you can convert the metal workpiece into a variety of shapes. This may happen by forcing the workpiece into customized shapes by applying the force in the form of a falling ram on the anvil. In another situation, squeezing the metal part in the die cavity gives shape to the material.
The forging technique is compatible with carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and titanium. The process benefits in plastically deforming the original metal into various geometries with minimum wastage of material. Once the raw metal workpiece is forged, it becomes pretty strengthened and fatigue resistant.
Usually, when a metal is heated at a high temperature, and then pressure is applied, the cracks and empty spaces in the metal are sealed, which makes it sturdy. Additionally, alternating the grain structure of the metal by following the forging technique makes the metal tough and robust.
What Equipment is Used for Forging?
Below are some main tools used for the forging process; their use depends upon the method you are using. Let’s have a look!
A power hammer is the most commonly used forging tool. The counterblow machine features the hammer and anvil while the metal part is held between them. It functions by continuously hitting the metal workpiece from specific areas in order to deform or shape it. Hammering needs a pretty high-pressure blow to change the shape of the metal. Thus almost 50,000 lbs of driving force are required.
Unlike continuous hitting, while using a hammer, the metal is pressed between custom-shaped dies during presses to shape it. Typically, presses use mechanical or hydraulic pressure to apply the pressure on forging dies. Cranks, cams, and toggles play a significant role in mechanical presses for striking. Whereas, in the case of hydraulic presses, fluid pressure and a piston generate the driving force. Moreover, in the case of presses, the metal is squeezed vertically into die cavities.
Upsetters are pretty similar to presses. The only difference is that the metal is squeezed horizontally during upsetter forging. The force is applied in a horizontal direction in order to move the metal into the die cavity.
● Ring Rollers
As the name suggests, ring rollers are responsible for making ring shapes of metals. Primarily, they are capable of producing ring diameters ranging from a few inches to almost over 300 inches. Ring rollers work on hollow-shaped metal workpieces.
What are Different Methods of Forging?
There are several forging methods, each with different capabilities and benefits. Let’s start with the first forging method:
1. Drop Forging
Drop forging is named so because it works by dropping a hammer on the workpiece to deform it according to the shape of the die in which it is present. The die is a surface that comes in contact with the metal workpiece. They might be flat or multi-shaped depending upon the operations.
The drop forging is further divided into two types:
- Open-die Forging or Smith forging.
- Closed-die Forging or Impression-die Forging.
In open-die Forging, the metal workpiece is not enclosed in the dies. Instead, the workpiece is placed on a stationary anvil, and a hammer strikes it to mold the shape of the material. Therefore, you are the one who is responsible for altering the position of the metal to achieve the required shape.
Moreover, it offers customized metal products. Some great advantages of smith forging are given below:
- Offers fatigue resistance and fine grain size.
- The probability of voids is lesser.
- Improves the internal quality of the product due to excellent mechanical properties.
Closed-die Forging entirely relies on dies of different shapes. The metal workpiece inside the die is dropped by a hammer which causes it to flow; ultimately, the die cavities are filled. The workpiece in a die is attached to an anvil.
As a result of continuous hitting, the excess metal comes out from the die cavities, referred to as a flash. The flash cools in lesser time as compared to the rest material in the die. This makes it comparatively stronger and tougher. Once the Forging completes, the flash can be removed. The impression forging benefits you in the following ways:
- Generates the unique and highly finished shapes of the products.
- Deals with products up to 25 tons.
- Offers higher production rates.
2. Roll Forging
The roll forging method reduces the thickness and increases the length of a round or bar-shaped workpiece. The two cylindrical or semi-cylindrical horizontal rolls, each possessing shaped grooves, are used. The heated round workpiece is placed between the rolls, and as the rolls rotate, the workpiece is successively shaped in the machine. Afterward, it is shifted to the next set of grooves. The process continues until the desired shape and size of the rod are achieved.
The plus point of roll forging is that it produces no material waste. Additionally, it reduces the cross-sectional area of the rod and forms taper ends.
3. Press Forging
Press forging deals with the compression factor. The metal part is placed on a stationary die, and continuous pressure is applied to get the required shape. You may control the internal strain by managing the compression rate.
Press forging is preferred for the following reasons:
- Offers remarkable accuracy.
- 500-9000 tons of pressure can be applied by press forging.
- You can automatically control the pressure, speed, and travel of the die.
4. Upset Forging
Upset Forging compresses the length of the workpiece in order to increase its diameter. Crank presses are high-speed machines that allow upset Forging. Mostly, crank presses are set on horizontal planes to improve working efficiency. However, hydraulic presses or vertical crank presses can also be used. Upset Forging benefits you in increasing the production rate. Further, full automation is provided.
5. Cold Forging
Cold Forging is one of the forging methods that produce products featuring an excellent surface finish and tight tolerance dimensions. Cold Forging is far different from other forging methods as it doesn’t use heat. Instead, a cold temperature is required for shaping the parts.
Moreover, it offers a wide range of shapes, including shaft-like parts, hollow parts, upset and bent configurations, cup-shaped components, etc.
6. Isothermal Forging
Isothermal Forging is an advanced form of hot forging in which both the material and the die are heated to the same temperature. Therefore, there should be a mold heating and temperature control device to maintain the proper check and balance. The process uses adiabatic heating, which means no thermal exchange occurs between the system and surroundings. Thus, due to lesser heat loss, smaller machines can be used.
Most commonly, isothermal forging is suitable for materials containing a narrow temperature range, like, titanium alloys, superalloys, power superalloys, etc.
7. Automatic Hot Forging
During automatic hot Forging, metal bars are introduced into one end of the forging machine at room temperature. Whereas hot forged products come out from the opposite end. The whole process takes place rapidly. Generally, it can make 180 small parts in a minute, yet larger ones can be made at the rate of 90 parts per minute.
The key benefit of this method is that only a little labor is needed to operate the forging machine; the rest process is automatic. Plus, no flash is produced, so the material is not wasted.
8. Precision Forging or Net-shape and Near-Net-Shape Forging
Precision forging is typically a flashless near-net-shape forging technique. It is meant to minimize the cost and waste while operating. The cost is saved because less material is consumed, limited energy usage, and reduced machining. Therefore, this process is only preferred if someone wants a reduction in the cost.
Above all, precision forging is a refinement technique that requires no further processing after forging.
Applications of Forging
Forging is a highly applicable metal manufacturing technique. You can use it to create small components of a few inches to pretty large parts weighing tons. The following are some uses of forging:
- It is responsible for manufacturing sensitive parts of aircraft.
- The process fortifies automobile equipment.
- Forging also produces hand tools, for example, screws, rivets, chisels, bolts, etc.
- Due to the excellent fatigue strength of forged metal, it is ideal for most moving components, such as camshaft gears and crankshafts.
- The technique is applicable in building the structures of ships.
- Generator rotors and turbine motors are also examples of forged products.
- Forging also plays a part in fortifying the engine and transmission parts.
Hopefully, in the end, you are there with enough knowledge about the basics and several methods of the forging process. Forging enables you to enjoy the metal parts containing outstanding mechanical properties offering toughness, ductility, and fatigue resistance. On top of that, Forging provides products having a variety of sizes and design flexibilities.
Yet, you need to take high safety measures while dealing with forging techniques in industries. Your slight negligence may prove risky to you.