From kitchen knives, hammers and car parts to & machinery, highway equipment and aerospace parts – forging is the common manufacturing process for a vast array of man-made items.
Despite having a hand in the construction of so many different things, the process of forging is something that most people know very little about. Forging is really important to knife makers since that allows them to use electric knife sharpeners to have a keen edge.
Read on to find out all about a manufacturing process that revolutionized the world.
What exactly is forging?
Most people know that forging is some kind of manufacturing process involving the shaping of metal. However, few know that forging is usually classified according to the temperature at which the metal shaping is performed: cold, warm and hot forging are the standard classifications. Once something has been forged, a secondary operation is used to get the finished part.
Forging today is a major world-wide industry and its contribution to the world of manufacturing cannot be overstated.
Throughout the ages
Believe it or not, forging is thousands of years old. Shaping metal using a hammer and anvil is an ancient process most of us are familiar with and it is also the oldest form of forging. This traditional method lasted until water power became widespread in the 12th century and this resulted in hammer and anvil forging to become obsolete.
In the modern age, forging is a process used on an industrial scale and it is commonly performed with steam, air, electric or hydraulic presses and hammers. Unlike physical forging or the method of the practice that uses water power, these days industrial hammers can exert several tons of weight on forging materials.
Advantages and disadvantages
One of the main reasons forging is so widely used is because it can produce a piece of material that is stronger than machined or cast parts. Pressure exerted on the forging metal causes its internal grain to deform and move closer together, and as a result, the piece produced is very strong.
Hot forging is the most widely used method and this prevents the material being forged from hardening and makes it easier for secondary operations to be carried out on the part when the forging is complete. This is why both iron and steel parts are hot forged. The benefits of cold forging is that it allows the material to harden during the process, and this is beneficial in some circumstances. But because hot-forged, soft working materials can be hardened by other method such as heat treating afterward, it is generally a more economical and more controllable method of the process.
Industrial forging is obviously not a cheap process and needs expensive facilities that house all the tooling, machinery and trained personnel that are required. Hot forging production also requires a high-temperature furnace. All this heavy-duty and massive equipment needs to be housed somewhere because of the safety risks involved, so usually, production forging can only be carried out in a special building which only specially trained personnel can enter.