Cold forming technology – back to basics

Cold forming technology – back to basics

Cold forming technology – back to basics

Increasing demand for lightweight and durable metal components, particularly in the automotive and aerospace sectors, is driving demand for cold forming as a production process. With a projected CAGR of 5.8% from 2022 to 2028[1], the global cold forming and cold heading market is growing rapidly. Cold forming, unlike traditional forging techniques, occurs at ambient temperatures, preserves the material’s existing properties, allows for high precision and tight tolerances, produces less material waste and is ideal for small to medium-sized components.

What is cold forming?

The cold-forming process (known as cold heading) is an ideal engineering technique for forming parts and components without heating the material. The term cold forming should not be confused with the term cold rolling or cold roll forming. This high-speed process allows manufacturers to mass-produce large volumes of precision products.

To understand cold forming, think of the arrangement of punches and dies. Using a powerful press, the punch is used to force a circular billet of metal, such as copper, under high pressure into the die. Metal blanks are extruded into cold-formed parts using dies and punches. The process is carried out at high speed and ambient temperatures. It usually occurs at high pressures; cold-forming presses operate between 200 and 1,000 tonnes per square inch.

Watch cold forming in action in this video and find out how it works –

Different methods used for cold forming

A few different techniques are used for cold forming, including

A forward-extrusion process

The process of backward extrusion

And free flow

A particular process can be selected according to the application and type of component. Metal blanks can be transformed into components, assemblies, and segments through extrusion, drawing, and coining.

How Cold Forming is different from CNC machining

CNC machining is ideal for producing small to medium volumes of precision components and parts at a low cost.

CNC machining, however, can be potentially wasteful.  The process starts with a block of metal that is machined away until the desired shape is achieved.  Depending on the complexity of the finished part, up to 80% of the original mass might be turned into waste.  Even though this can be reclaimed and reprocessed, recycling and reprocessing involve financial and environmental costs.

Generally, low-volume manufacture of CNC engineered parts generates little waste material. With increasing production volumes, however, waste metal and recycling become more challenging.

Cold forming provides an alternative method of producing precision components in high volumes, with minimal waste, for high-volume production. Compared with a part manufactured by CNC machining, precision-engineered parts can be extruded at high speeds, often exceeding 300 parts/minute, and with great precision. Even if final finishing is done using other engineering techniques, reducing waste metal by around 80% is still possible.

Suitable materials for cold forming

Cold-forming materials include, but are not limited to:


Carbon steels



Stainless steel


Nickel alloys

Even though you can cold form all these metals, some may perform better than others or be better suited for a different type of manufacturing process, like machining.

In this blog, we have discussed how copper can be used for manufacturing connectors using cold-formed technology –

Our experience in cold-forming precision parts and components

In recent years, cold forming has become a very popular process for manufacturing parts that are low in quality or low in cost, such as rivets and fasteners, since it makes the process extremely simple. As Dawson Shanahan, we are not currently operating in this market. We specialise in modifying the cold-forming process so that it can be applied effectively to the production of large quantities of components with exceptionally high levels of quality. The range of projects we use cold forming for currently includes a variety of types of projects, some of which include:

  • Connectors for renewable energy, EVs, power generation and distribution, automotive and many other sectors
  • Nozzles in advanced copper alloys for CNC laser cutting systems
  • Valve sleeves for advanced low-emission diesel engines
  • Parts for high-voltage power generation and distribution equipment


We can manufacture parts and components for our customers’ bespoke application designs using cold-forming technology. Contact us today to learn how we can help you use cold forming to its full potential.