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Forging

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The Forge

The forge or smithy is the workplace of a smith or a blacksmith. Forging is the term for shaping metal by plastic deformation. Cold forging is done at low temperatures, while conventional forging is done at high temperatures, which makes metal easier to shape and less likely to fracture.

A basic smithy contains a forge, sometimes called a hearth for heating the metals, commonly iron or steel to a temperature where the metal becomes malleable, or to a temperature where work hardening ceases to accumulate, an anvil to lay the metal pieces on while hammering, and a slack tub to rapidly cool, and thus harden, forged metal pieces in. Tools include tongs to hold the hot metal, and hammers to strike the hot metal.

Once the final shape has been forged, iron and steel in particular often get some type of heat treatment. This can result in various degrees of hardening or softening depending on the details of the treatment.

Forging

Forging is the working of metal by plastic deformation. It is distinguished from machining, the shaping of metal by removing material, such as by drilling, sawing, milling, turning or grinding, and from casting, wherein metal in its molten state is poured into a mold, whose form it retains on solidifying. The processes of raising, sinking, rolling, swaging, drawing and upsetting are essentially forging operations although they are not commonly so called because of the special techniques and tooling they require.

Forging results in metal that is stronger than cast or machined metal parts. This is because during forging the metal's grain flow changes into the shape of the part, making it stronger. Some modern parts require a specific grain flow to ensure the strength and reliability of the part.

Many metals are forged cold, but iron and its alloys are almost always forged hot. This is for two reasons: first, if work hardening were allowed to progress, hard materials such as iron and steel would become extremely difficult to work with; secondly, most steel alloys can be hardened by heat treatments, such as by the formation of martensite, rather than cold forging. Alloys that are amenable to precipitation hardening, such as most structural alloys of aluminium and titanium, can also be forged hot, then made strong once they achieve their final shape. Other materials must be strengthened by the forging process itself.

Forging was done historically by a smith using hammer and anvil, and though the use of water power in the production and working of iron dates to the 12th century CE, the hammer and anvil are not obsolete. The smithy has evolved over centuries to the forge shop with engineered processes, production equipment, tooling, raw materials and products to meet the demands of modern industry.

In modern times, industrial forging is done either with presses or with hammers powered by compressed air, electricity, hydraulics or steam. These hammers are large, having reciprocating weights in the thousands of pounds. Smaller power hammers, 500 pounds or less reciprocating weight, and hydraulic presses are common in art smithies as well. Steam hammers are becoming obsolete.

In industry a distinction is made between open- and closed-die forging. In open-die work the metal is free to move except where contacted by the hammer, anvil, or other (often hand-held) tooling. In closed-die work the material is placed in a die resembling a mold, which it is forced to fill by the application of pressure. Many common objects, like wrenches and crankshafts, are produced by closed-die forging, which is well suited to mass production. Open-die forging lends itself to short runs and is appropriate for art smithing and custom work.

Closed-die forging is more expensive for mass production than is casting, but produces a much stronger part, and is used for tools, high strength machine parts and the like. Forgings are commonly used in automotive applications, where high strength is demanded, with a constraint on the mass of the part (high strength-to-mass ratio). Forged parts are more suitable for mass production. The process of forging a part becomes cheaper with higher volumes. For these reasons forgings are used in the automotive industry, usually after some machining. One particular variant, drop forging, is often used to mass produce flat wrenches and other household tools.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.It uses material from the Wikipedia article "forging ".
 
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