A manufacturing process where metal is pressed, pounded, or squeezed under great pressure into high strength parts is known as the forging process. The forging process is generally, but not necessarily always, performed hot by preheating the metal to a preferred temperature. It’s very important to note that the casting process is totally different from the forging process. In the casting process, the metal that is used to make forged parts is never melted and poured.
The forging process has been around since ancient times, where it was used to produce different kinds of end materials with different properties. In today’s time, hydraulic hammers and machines empower the forging technique to forge steel and other metals. If we look back to the history, forge smiths were the protagonist in manufacturing the early kinds of forged steel. The metal was first made wet and then they used to strike it above an anvil using a forging hammer. China and Persia were the first places that had steel forging manufacturers. It was only during the 1800s that contemporary methods of forging started to shape up.
The process of manufacturing forged steel
When steel achieves a forging temperature, it becomes ductile and elastic and can be molded to any shape one wants by simply applying pressure. Due to its plasticity, steel forging, with proper processing methods, allow a billet of steel to be shaped permanently without cracking. An induction heating system, forge furnace or forge oven is used by steel forging manufacturers to heat the steel to the desired temperature. The result of the thermal cycle and the deformation process is metallurgical recrystallization and grain refinement. The resulting forged steel product is strengthened in terms of impact toughness.
Steel forging can be differentiated into three categories depending upon their forming temperature:
Hot forging of steel: The forging temperature in this category is above the recrystallization temperature, i.e. between 950 and 1250 degree Celsius. It requires low forming forces and results in good formability.
Warm forging of steel: In this category, the forging temperature is between 750 and 950 degrees Celsius. It requires higher forming forces than for hot forging and leads to limited formability.
Cold forging of steel: The forging temperature in this category is at the room condition, self-heating up to 150 degrees Celsius due to the forming of energy. It needs high forming forces and results in low formability.
The significance of forged steel
The most significant advantage of forged steel is that the metal becomes stronger than the ones that are cast or machined. Steel forging manufacturers use this process in industrial and mechanical applications due to its availability, strength, and specialized alloy types like carbon steel and stainless steel. Steel forging offers unmatched pliability for manufacturing parts that simply do not fail. The different benefits of forging are:
- Steel forge parts offer a higher degree of tolerance capabilities and reliability.
- Steel forgings offer uniformity of structure and composition. They have minimum variation in mechanical properties and machinability.
- Forged steel parts are stronger as well as more reliable than the ones that are machined or cast.
- Steel forgings make various designs possible owing to its accommodative capabilities to high stress and load.
- When steel forgings are used, the quality of the parts cannot be questioned.
- Steel forge parts are free from pockets, gas voids, or cooling defects which can lead to load failure.
According to steel forging manufacturers, the features of forged steel such as resistance and strength assist every industry from the automotive to manufacturing to the agricultural machinery. Steel forgings also serve as pipe fittings in the oil and gas industry. While on the other hand, it serves as pulleys and gear wheels in the automotive industry. Due to the strength of forged steels in fasteners and airframe members, the aircraft industry benefits from the steel forging process.