Cold forming and component manufacture

Cold forming and component manufacture

Cold forming is an ideal engineering process for the production of precision components in large volumes

For many manufacturing applications, CNC machining is an ideal, cost-effective solution for the production of small to medium volumes of precision parts and components.  

CNC machining is, however, a potentially wasteful process.  It starts with a block of metal that is machined away until the desired shape is achieved.  Depending on the complexity of the finished part, this may result in anything up to 80% of the original mass being converted to waste.  Although this can of course be reclaimed, reprocessing and recycling involves extra cost, both financial and environmental, in terms of transport and energy consumption.

For the manufacture of low volumes of engineered parts, the generation of waste material is unlikely to be a major concern.  As production volumes increase, however, the problem of waste metal and the challenge of recycling becomes far more significant.

For high volume production, it’s therefore worth considering cold forming, as this process offers an alternative method of producing precision components in high volumes, with minimal waste.

Cold formed parts are extruded from metal blanks in a die and punch system.  This takes place at ambient temperature and at high pressures; typically, cold forming presses operate at pressures between 200 and 1,000 tonnes.

The advantage is that parts can be extruded at high speed, often in excess of 300 parts/minute, with great precision; even allowing for final finishing using other engineering techniques, there is still the potential to reduce waste metal by around 80% compared with a part produced using CNC machining.

The learn more about how cold forming can be used to reduce waste, take a look at our interview with Commercial Director, Jeff Kiernan:

Cold forming: it’s not just about waste

The cost of waste metal from CNC machining – or indeed from any engineering process – will inevitably be priced into the unit cost for each job. 

The cost will also reflect the number and complexity of the different machining operations that are required to produce the finished parts.  These operations might, for example, include milling, drilling, grinding and surface finishing.

Although cold forming won’t necessarily eliminate the need for all subsequent operations, it is nonetheless possible to produce parts with complex internal geometries and significantly reduce the total number of manufacturing stages.  This is especially true if a part can be redesigned to produce a cold formed component in a single operation, rather than assembling it from two or more pieces.

Cold formed parts exhibit mirror-like internal surfaces, which rarely require finishing.  It’s also worth noting that cold formed parts are extruded along the grain boundaries.  By comparison, CNC machining cuts geometries across the metal grain structure.  Cold formed parts therefore tend to be mechanically stronger.

You can learn more about cold forming here:

Cold forming: not always be the best process for volume production

Cold forming has many advantages, especially when used in conjunction with other engineering processes.

But it’s not always the best solution to an engineering problem if multiple operations are required to produce each part.  In which case, for high volume parts, we are also offer a unique capability from our twin Triflex multi-head machining centres.  These allow five-sided machining without the need to re-clamp components.

Each Triflex machine is capable of extremely high levels of throughout, at exceptionally high speed.  Typically, we can produce around 75 parts/hour, each with multiple and complex operations, which is a 300% improvement on a conventional CNC machine.

To learn more about Triflex watch our video: