We specialise in cold forming in copper, aluminium & ferrous materials.

At Dawson Shanahan, we have over 80 years of experience in cold forming high quality, precision components for a wide range of demanding applications. These range from laser cutting, to power generation, aerospace and automotive.   


We can cold form parts in almost any metal, including copper alloys such as Zirconium Copper (CuZr), Tellurium Copper (CuTe) and Copper Chromium Zirconium (CuCrZr), plus aluminium and ferrous. 


All development, tooling and cold forming is carried out in-house. Our dedicated design and manufacturing engineers work closely with our quality control and customer support teams to ensure that every project is carried out on time and to budget. 

The benefits of cold forming:


Cold forming is a proven engineering process that is ideal for the precision manufacture of high quality parts in large volumes. In particular, cold forming can: 

  • Significantly reduce raw material use and waste 
  • Offer fast manufacturing speeds 
  • Reduce time to market 
  • Eliminate secondary production operations 
  • Minimise multi-part assembly costs 

  • Produce total cost reductions of up to 70% 
  • Give high quality, polished internal surfaces 
  • Enable highly accurate internal profiles 
  • Provide the ability to create complex external profiles 
  • Ensure high mechanical strength (grain structures following part geometries)

What is cold forming?


In principle, cold forming (sometimes called cold heading) is a simple engineering process. Note that cold forming should not be confused with cold rolling or cold-roll forming.


The simplest way to visualise cold forming is to think of a punch and die arrangement. Using a powerful press, metal such as copper in the form of a circular billet is forced under high pressure by the punch into the die. This takes place at high speed and at ambient temperatures.


This simple process has meant that cold forming is widely used for the production of low quality or low cost parts such as rivets and fasteners. This is not, however, the market in which Dawson Shanahan operates.


Our skills are in adapting the cold forming process for the manufacture of components in large volumes with exceptionally high levels of quality. For example, we currently use cold forming for a diverse range of projects that include:

  • Nozzles in advanced copper alloys for use in CNC laser cutting systems 
  • Valve sleeves for advanced low emission diesel engines 
  • Parts for use in high voltage power generation and distribution equipment 
  • Precision connectors for drive train systems in electric vehicles.

How does cold forming work?


Cold forming starts with a simple blank, which has been sawn or cropped from a round bar or wire, or a cold headed pre-form. The blank is placed at the opening of the die tool. A separate punch is then driven at pressures of up to 600 tonnes into the die, pressing the blank into the exact shape of the tool 


There are a number of different methods used for cold forming, including forward extrusion, backward extrusion and free flow. The choice of process will be determined by the application and the type of component required. Through extrusion, drawing or coining, a blank can be made into a wide range of components, segments and assemblies. 

Watch our cold forming machines in action

Learn more about our billet preparation process

Cold formed components offer a number of important benefits, especially over comparable parts produced using traditional CNC machining processes. 


For example, cold formed parts are produced rapidly in large volumes, normally in excess of 300 parts per minute. Each part is produced in a single operation, requiring minimal finishing or secondary operations and has a highly polished internal surface. Cold formed parts can have complex shapes, with greater mechanical strength as the grain structures follow the part geometries; by comparison, CNC milling generally cuts angles across these boundaries. 


Perhaps the greatest benefit, especially for companies that need to drive down unit cost or have a strong commitment to sustainability, is material savings. Cold forming can typically reduce the amount of waste metal generated during the manufacture of each component by up to 80%, when compared with CNC milling. 

Find how we use cold forming to minimise metal waste in manufacturing

Planning your cold forming project


A mistake that is commonly made is to think of cold forming as an stand-alone process. For maximum value, cold forming needs to be aligned with other engineering techniques in the interest of economy and product quality, using the best characteristics of each to create a production flow that reduces material waste, cost and time, while optimising the quality, finish and properties of each component.


For some projects, the configurations, tolerances, materials and/or hybrid nature of the component design will require a combination of operations, while in others it may be possible to eliminate or reduce second operation processes simply by extending the capabilities of cold forming equipment or tooling.


Demands on parts and labour can also be reduced by cold forming, as the process allows parts that may previously have been assembled from a number of pieces to be formed as a single component. This reduces cost in a number of ways, from improving product output to saving time on inspections and the compilation of inventories further down the line, as there are fewer individual components both on the factory floor and in the warehouse.


Ultimately, it’s rare for there to be only a single solution to any engineering project. Cold forming is one of a number of possible methods for producing high volume, high quality parts. The key point, however, is that its potential is too often overlooked and that design and production engineers, as well as procurement teams, need to include the process when planning new projects, setting aside their natural caution to open up new opportunities for reducing cost and improving quality and performance.

Cold forming – factors to consider


Cold forming offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities. Here are just a few of the things that you should consider:


Partner with a specialist cold forming company – a company that understands how to engineer precision, high quality parts. An experienced specialist will help you throughout the process, from development to manufacture, ensuring you get the parts you need, to exacting standards, when you need them.


Don’t underestimate the importance of tooling. Tooling can appear to be expensive; but that’s for good reasons: it ensures that every cold formed part is identical, meeting your exact quality standards, regardless of the production volumes. Also, if the cost of the tooling is considered against its operating life and the total number of parts that its capable of producing, then the initial cost suddenly takes on a new perspective.


Consider the volume of parts you need, as this can affect how price competitive different component manufacturing techniques can be. Cold forming is ideal for manufacturing medium to high volumes, in the thousands upwards.


Think about the importance of waste reduction when compared with other engineering techniques. Cold forming can reduce waste by 80% or more. Over the lifetime of a project this can have a dramatic impact on total cost and play a valuable role in helping you comply with sustainability policies.


Factor in turnaround times. Cold forming eliminates the need for many secondary operations, turnaround times can be much faster than other component manufacturing methods.


Make sure you work with your supplier to ensure that components are designed for the chosen manufacturing process. If cold forming is your preferred solution, then it may be necessary to consider modifications to part designs to exploit the opportunities that the process offers.

Why not talk to our engineering team for expert advice

Precision Cold Forming

Step 1: Insert blank

Precision Cold Forming

Step 2: Blank is formed

Precision Cold Forming

Step 3: Final finishing to parts

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Cold Forming White Paper

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