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  4. Aluminum Forging: Techniques and Industrial Applications

Advanced Aluminum Forging: Techniques and Industrial Applications

This comprehensive guide delves into the specialized world of aluminum forging, exploring various techniques like open-die, closed-die, and rolled-ring forging. Learn about the advantages of using aluminum, its applications across industries, and tips for custom forging projects.

Understanding Aluminum Forging

Forging is a process associated with pressure. Any metal can be forged with extreme pressure to be pressed or pounded. As a result, a squeezed high-strength part is produced with better durability. With aluminum forging, you get parts with high durability and strength but lightweight and energy-efficient. Aluminum has been forged for a long time for its good properties that align with the processes of forging.

Benefits of Using Aluminum For Forging

Aluminum forging can be very useful. As a material, it’s in perfect resonance with the criteria a material needs to fulfill for becoming a good forging material.
  • Aluminum naturally has low density. As a result, it can be forged in low temperatures. The capacity of retaining is not very high. So, you may need the cooling system necessary for the working area. Although alloys may vary at melting points, most of the alloys have similar low melting points to work with.
  • While forging, you may need to turn the aluminum billet into a cast grain structure. Without that, many applications cannot be executed. As is cast billets, porosity can prevail. This is the feature of having air pockets in between aluminum grains. This is reduced or totally demolished by forging.
  • Aluminum forging is subject to a lower flow of stress than other materials and has high ductility which makes it best for hydraulic presses and working with lower rates of cracks. Even saw cutting can be privileged with aluminum forging. As a result, you can use it as one of the best materials for forging.
  • Maintaining isothermal conditions, you can use very low speed while forging, which gives better chances with sustainable pieces of machinery. This helps to create very complicated shapes. Mostly the process is called precision forging.
aluminum forging service 5

The Process Of Aluminum Forging

You can use various methods for aluminum forging. But mostly three kinds of processes are used for forging. Even at times, two processes are combined to create balance while forging. The three most popular methods of forging are –
  • Open-die Forging
  • Closed-die Forging
  • Rolled-ring Forging
Following is a brief step-by-step procedure for your understanding of the process for aluminum forging:
  • First of all, cast aluminum or wrought stock is prepared to be used as forging stock for aluminum. The stock is made out of bar or plate or any other raw form of aluminum with the help of shearing or sawing.
  • Secondly, the stock is preheated for forging. It may be done with furnaces run by gas or electrical power. Depending on the alloy and thickness of the material, heating time may differ from time to time.
  • Thirdly, heating of dies is done with precision.
  • Fourth, you need to lubricate the die and workpiece material for the best results. Graphite is mostly used in the lubrication process. Sometimes, various organic, as well as non-organic materials, are mixed with it for lubrication.
  • Then, the die and the workpiece are used for pressing with high pressure for forging the aluminum stack. This is the main part of forging and must be done with utmost care and precision.
  • Fifth, before finishing, necessary forming and trimming treatment is given to the forged aluminum.
  • Lastly, cleaning is done for removing unwanted lubricant and residue as well as heat treatment is implemented by gas-based fire, electrical, or any other manner for giving it the best finishing possible.
All of these steps are followed step by step in the process of aluminum forging.aluminum forging service 3

The Main Forging Aluminum Materials

Most of the aluminum alloys are very useful for forging. Some of them are briefly described below:
  • Aluminum alloys like 2618, 2219, 2025, and 2015 all are very useful for forging. The alloys have 1-5% copper. Sometimes in this series, Magnesium is also added. It helps to strengthen the alloy after heat treatment.
  • Aluminum alloy 5083 is another very important alloy for forging which has a Magnesium percentage.
  • Aluminum consisting of 5-8% Zinc is most commonly used for forging like 7079, 7075, 7050, 7049, 7039, and 7010.
  • The most forgeable aluminum alloy is  6061. It has copper, silicon, and magnesium percentage for better durability, ductility, low flow strength, and good forgeable temperature.

Types of Products Are Typically Made Using Forged Aluminum

Many industries make a variety of products using forged aluminum. Some of the types of products that are typically made using forged aluminum include:aluminum forging service 7
  • Aerospace Components: Critical pieces of aircraft include landing gear parts, wing components and structural elements which are made using forged aluminum because it is strong yet light.
  • Automotive Parts: Most automotive parts, such as engine components wheel hubs and suspension elements are made of forged aluminum to minimize weight without sacrificing strength.
  • Firearms: Manufacturers of firearms turn forged aluminum into lightweight yet durable components used on guns such as the inner barrels, receivers and handguards.
  • Sports Equipment: The application of forged aluminum in sports equipment development like the production of tennis rackets, golf club heads and baseball bats allows improving their performance traits.
  • Marine Components: In the marine industry, forged aluminum is used for making boat parts like hulls, masts and various deck components because it prevents corrosion and ensures strength.
  • Medical Devices: In the manufacture of various medical machines and apparatus, forged aluminum is employed in diverse aspects such as surgical instruments and implant components.
  • Bicycle Components: Apart from frames, other bicycle parts such as handlebars, stems and seat posts can be produced out if forged aluminum.
These are just some of them, and the diversity in forged-aluminum application makes it possible to apply this product within numerous other categories where lightweight, strong, and durable materials as necessary.

Application of Aluminum Forging

Forged aluminum is great for you if you are looking for a lightweight but energy-efficient material. For these two features, the main application of aluminum forging is used where speed is necessary mainly – for producing vehicle parts. You can create various motorbike parts, car parts with aluminum forging.

 Many Aerospace Parts Are Made With Aluminum Forging

Above all forged aluminum is often used in aircraft parts which gives it a different class than any other material.

Types Of Aluminum Forging

Aluminum is one of the best materials to work with for forging. There are various types of forging methods available. They are being used regularly for forging. Among all forging methods, mainly three methods are used regularly. You can also use two of the methods together to create balance. The methods are mentioned below:
  • Open-die Forging
  • Closed-die Forging
  • Rolled-ring Forging
These are the main types of Aluminum Forging.

The Strength of Forged Aluminum

Forging Aluminum takes high pressure. Which actually changes the microstructure of the material and makes it more durable and of high ductility. Such aluminum is heat treatable. The internal voids are gone and can be easily used to create highly strong parts.

Aluminum forging gives it a 24-26% higher tensile strength as well as 35-37% higher fatigue strength than cast aluminum. As a result, it always wins the race compared to cast aluminum. The lifespan and durability are naturally high for forged aluminum parts.aluminum forging service 1

Compared to steel, it has a weight of one-third of the same volume of steel. As a result, the forged aluminum parts are stronger as pressed.

Among all the strong alloys of aluminum, 7086 aluminum alloy, which is used basically in aircraft, is one of the strongest. It is stronger than cast aluminum or steel.

Introduction to Open-die Forging

Open-die forging is a forging process where part or parts of the workpiece material is kept open and clearly visible while working. The forging process is very useful for the production of small quantities of aluminum parts. The metal is put between multiple dies at multiple stages where the open die does not completely enclose the process of forging.

The metal is hammered or stamped or can go through both processes until the forging turns it into the desired shape. Most of the time, open-die forging requires further processing of the parts through other kinds of forging or finishing processes.

Open Die Forging And Closed Die Forging Are Two Aluminum Forging Processes

Introduction to Closed-die Forging

Materials that go through closed-die forging may need preheating for the die as well as the material itself. Then it is entered into a closed die where metal parts are completely engulfed by the die. Extreme pressure is induced for forging and then the metal gets the perfect shape of the enclosed die. At closed-die forging –
  • Better finishing may be achieved
  • Good for higher quantity production than open-die forging
  • Grain structure formation is increased, as a result, tightness of material is gained
  • Complex shapes can be achieved through extreme pressure
Closed-die forging can be of various types itself:7075 aluminum forging parts 4
  • Blocker-type forgings, where the materials go through a single set of dies. The method is pretty inexpensive and is good for high quantity production where an adequate finishing is alright.
  • Conventional closed-die forgings, where the forging takes higher pressure for high durable parts. It is forged in blocker-type dies and then goes through good finishing procedures. As a result, it may be a little expensive but the most popular forging method right now. Only two steps make a better and more durable part.
  • High definition forgings are more expensive as you need more than one set of dies and blockers, as well as finish, dies to complete the whole process. The method is used to produce more accurate shapes for parts.
  • Precision Forging consists of forging, machining as well as fabrication which is much more expensive than high definition forging as well as the best accurate forging there is. Aluminum forged by this process may go through two or three die sets to get the perfect result possible.

Introduction to Rolled-ring Forging

Rolled ring forging is a process where you can see aluminum hollow doughnuts being heated and pressured under extreme pressure to give them the desired shape.

Rolled Ring Forging Is Very Useful To Create Various Parts

These metal parts are already shaped through open-die forging as well as upset die-forging. These two methods give the metal a ring-shaped or doughnut shape with a hollow in the middle. Then it is used for forging the desired shapes while being rolled.

Difference Between Aluminum Forging And Aluminum Casting

Aluminum forging and aluminum casting are two methods used to give aluminum the perfect shape possible. Let’s see what differences these two methods have:

Casting Is Done With Extreme Heat

Aluminum ForgingAluminum Casting
Aluminum is forged through extreme pressureAluminum casting is done by melting the aluminum
Forging is good for smaller partsCasting is good for larger parts up to 16-18 inches
Forging removes air pockets thus gives better ductility to aluminumCasting does not remove air pockets as pressure is not as much applied
Forging makes aluminum stronger – 24-26% tensile strength than cast aluminumCasting aluminum does not make it as much strong as forging
Forging is good for tighter grain structure and better durabilityCasting is good for larger parts and has moderate durability

Difference Between Billet Aluminium And Forged Aluminium

Aluminum and forged aluminum have some differences to work with. Because of lower melting points, aluminum is good for forging. Following are some points that make forged aluminum different from general aluminum:

Firstly, forged aluminum is much tighter in grain microstructure than normal billet aluminum as it goes through high pressure through dies and other stages. As a result, it is better quality, to begin with.

Secondly, when it comes to functionality, billet aluminum is not much different from forged aluminum. Both can be used for making the same workpiece. But forged is more aesthetic than billet aluminum.

Thirdly, forged aluminum does have better durability than billet aluminum as forged aluminum is pressurized at better shapes.

For these reasons, billet aluminum is different from forged aluminum.custom aluminum forging parts 4

Limitations of Using Forging to Produce Aluminum Parts

Aluminum part production using the forging process avails some benefits from a strength standpoint and reliability perspective, but it has challenges due to constraints of complexity, materials wastefulness high tooling cost potential surface roughness limits by large size lead time alloy limitations as well as energy intensiveness. Nevertheless, the mentioned disadvantages notwithstanding favor forging when durability and hardness are main requirements to serve a vast number of industries.

Custom Forged Aluminum Parts From Manufacturers

  1. Define Your Requirements: Specifically, mention your custom needs focusing on the part size in relation to standard and non-standard materials (tolerances), material grade along with estimated numbers
  2. Research Manufacturers: Locate reliable manufacturers who specialize in the manufacture of aluminum parts using forging technology. Depend on such things as knowledge, manufacturing capacity and client impressions.
  3. Request Quotes: Call prospective manufacturers and seek specific price quotations. Offer them your project placement details and inform about the cost estimates, lead times and other value add services they may offer.
  4. Evaluate Samples: Wherever feasible, ask for specimen or prototype samples to evaluate the manufacturer’s quality and workmanship before moving ahead with full-scale production.
  5. Quality Assurance: Consider the recommendations for quality standards and certifications applicable to your industry from the manufacturer. Ask them about their quality controls.
  6. Tooling and Design: Collaborate effectively with the manufacturer to conclude tooling and die design. Work together to ensure proper modifications are incorporated into the requirements.
  7. Production: As soon as the design and tooling are accepted, manufacturing can embark. Frequently update with manufacturer to monitor performance and resolve problems.
  8. Inspection: Inspect forged components as quality, dimensional accuracy and specification compliance. Makers usually have processes for quality control.
  9. Finishing: If so, the components may be subjected more processes like milling or heat treatment of finishing surface.
  10. Packaging and Delivery: Set packaging criteria and modes of delivery. Inquire about shipping methods and timelines with the producer.
  11. Payment and Terms: Consent on the mechanism of payment with pre-payments, milestone payments as well as all provisions documented in a contract.
  12. Feedback and Collaboration: Supply feedback regarding the manufacturer to facilitate future partnerships and sustain a quality working relationship.

Since custom forging aluminum parts involve effective communication, detail oriented efforts and collaborative functionality along with the manufacturer — who is ensuring that your final product expectations meet quality assurance characteristics – consider all of these factors when you are solving a problem.7075 aluminum forging parts 3

Conclusion

Forging aluminum is a useful process for making good aircraft and car parts. The parts are durable and of high ductility. Besides, lightweight is another aspect of aluminum. As a result, aluminum is being popular day by day as a good material for forging.

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