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Forging is a crucial aspect of the metal manufacturing industry, especially in the iron and steel sector, and is widely recognized as a significant source of efficiency. When it comes to cost-effectiveness and overall quality, metal forging provides the best value, especially when high strength, custom dimensions, and specific performance requirements are necessary for a project.
Heading is a metalworking technique that involves forging, extruding, and upsetting processes, usually performed in the cold state, leading to cold working. The result of heading is often a near net shape piece, requiring minimal finishing processes such as plating or heat treating. However, it is important to note that the unsupported length to diameter ratio should be limited to avoid buckling, with a ratio of 3:1 being a common guideline. There are various types of cold heading machines, including multi-die headers for more complex parts, which are often used in fastener manufacturing. Cold heading has several advantages over traditional machining methods, such as increased production speed, minimal scrap generation, and stronger parts due to preserved grain flow.
Impression Die Forging
In the basic process of impression die forging, two dies are brought together, causing the workpiece to undergo plastic deformation until it fills the die cavities. This results in the creation of thinned flash on the sides of the workpiece as a small amount of material flows outside the die impressions. The flash cools quickly, leading to increased resistance to further deformation and building up pressure inside the workpiece, helping material flow into the remaining cavities. Essentially, impression die forgings made on horizontal forging machines (upsetters) are similar to those produced by hammers or presses. In both cases, the metal is forced into the die cavities, which are separated at the parting lines. The "heading tool" operates like the top die in a hammer or press, while the "grip dies" are equivalent to the bottom die. The grip dies consist of a stationary die and a moving die that close to grip and hold the stock in place for forging. After each machine stroke, these dies allow the transfer of stock from one cavity to another in multi-impression dies.
Open Die Forging
Open die forging is a method of shaping metal by subjecting it to repeated hammering or stamping between multiple dies that do not fully enclose the material. This process results in a product that often requires further machining and refinement to meet the desired specifications. It is commonly used for the production of simple items such as discs, rings, sleeves, cylinders, and shafts, and can also be utilized to create custom shapes. The repetitive forging process increases the strength of the metal's grain structure, leading to enhanced fatigue resistance and improved overall strength. Additionally, the formation of voids is reduced during open die forging.
Roll forging, also known as roll forming, is a forging method that involves the use of rolls to shape metal parts. Despite the use of rolls, it is classified as a forging process rather than a rolling process. Roll forging is typically performed when the metal is hot, and the precise grooves in the rolls are used to shape the part to the desired dimensions. Only a portion of the roll's circumference is used for forging, with the non-grooved portion being utilized for feeding the stock. The length of the workpiece is limited by the size of the rolls and the portion of the rolls used for forging. The workpiece is fed into the rolls at the right moment in the roll's rotation, and as the rolls turn, they pull the workpiece through the grooved portion, forming it into the desired shape through compressive forces. Roll forging is widely used in the automotive industry to produce parts such as shafts, knives, hand tools, and leaf springs. Roll forged parts possess better mechanical properties than those produced by many other processes.
The Near Net Shape Forging process is a recent advancement from traditional impression die forging. This method results in metal parts that are thinner and feature more intricate details, with varying separation lines and near elimination of draft. They also have tighter dimensional tolerances and fewer surface rough spots compared to conventional forgings. The benefits of near net shape forging include fewer machining operations, lighter weight, and reduced raw material and energy costs. In many cases, only the drilling of attachment holes is needed. Although near net shape forgings tend to have a higher production cost than traditional forgings, the cost advantage becomes apparent when post-forging machining is eliminated. A cost analysis of four different aircraft aluminum forging processes - hand forging, blocking, traditional forging, and near net shape forging - highlights the trade-offs and cost drivers in this application.