Casting and forging metal have been two of the most widely used methods for producing metal components in the last century or so, but are their best days behind them now that other techniques are more competitive?
Let’s not forget, casting and forging metal offer some benefits and advantages. Casting, for example, allows for excellent dimensional accuracy, while parts produced by forging are incredibly strong. It’s no coincidence they’ve been used so widely and for so long.
Despite such advantages, however, both forging metal and casting come with some disadvantages. The most important of these is high cost. Expenditure on machinery, the energy needed to heat metals to the melting point, materials and trained personnel is high – and those costs are passed on to customers.
With cost increasingly under the microscope in the past decade, and set to become increasingly important in coming years, there are question marks over forging and casting’s suitability for most engineering projects. This is especially true when these techniques are compared with other methods that allow costs to be kept low.
Cold forming advantages
Let’s consider cold forming as an example. For starters, this process is undertaken at room temperature, immediately slashing the cost of overheads compared with forging and casting. Secondly, while the cost of sourcing materials for forging and casting can be high since only high fluidity metals are usable, cold forming is not limited by types of grades of metal, which makes sourcing more cost effective. Finally, cold forming can meet almost any production volume need, whereas a significant amount is required to make casting and to forge economic.
Cost shouldn’t be everything, though. Other factors should be considered when selecting a technique to produce parts. However, when high-quality products, good customer support and on-time delivery should come as standard, cost usually becomes the main differentiator between techniques and service providers. And that, unfortunately for our forging and casting cousins, is why we can expect to see these techniques becoming less competitive over coming years.