Forging University: Lesson #1 – Forging vs. Fabrication
The first topic in this 6-part discussion compares forging and metal fabrication. Before digging in, let’s start with some basics:
What is Forging?
Forging is the shaping of metal by heating it in a fire or furnace, and then beating or hammering it into a final shape. Industrial forging has three primary methods: hammer (flat-die), press, and rolled types (die). All three give the final metal products increased strength and continuous grain flow. Anderson Shumaker specializes in open-die forging, which is the process of deforming metal between multiple open dies. These dies stamp or hammer heated metal through a series of movements until it achieves the desired shape. You can read all about our open-die forging and its many advantages here: A Leader in Open Die Forging.
What is Metal Fabrication?
Alternatively, metal fabrication is the process of building metal products through welding, burning, bending, cutting, and assembling. Like forging, metal fabrication has three main types: structural, commercial, and industrial. Structural fabrication refers to products used in architectural processes (think skyscrapers), while commercial metal fabrication makes parts for consumer use (such as automotive parts). On the other hand, industrial metal fabrication creates parts that are in turn used in equipment (for example, construction crane gears).
The Advantages of Forging vs. Fabrication:
While both forging and metal fabrication create valuable products, forging boasts several superior advantages, including:
- A reduced chance of voids in final products
- Simple production requirements, even with large product runs
- Creating a continuous grain flow, finer grain size, and higher overall product strength
- It’s seamless, therefore eliminating the need for welds
- Creating better metallurgical properties, ductility, fatigue and impact resistance
- It improves the finished metal’s microstructure
Forging also achieves lower overall cost when measured against fabrication. How? Forging typically requires less material, and the process creates less flashing and waste. Additionally, a forged product’s total lifetime costs are generally lower when compared to metal fabrication, where products may require reworking or repairs. As a result, the long-term benefits of forging outweigh the possible short-term savings fabrication may offer.
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