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The cold forming of metals is a fast and economical way to produce robust, complex components in a wide range of materials. Surprisingly, however, this process is often ignored in favour of less effective and less economical methods. This may be because people still associate cold forming with the manufacturing of simple, high volume items. Today, however, this process is capable of delivering precision engineered parts with up to 80 percent less scrap than machined ones. In the current economic climate this is surely an advantage that should attract the attention of many component manufacturers.
Marrying speed with high quality
As it’s performed at ambient temperatures, cold forming is a far quicker process than more conventional options, cutting lead times and the need to store high volumes of spare parts onsite. Superior quality products can be made by plasticising metals along their grain boundaries, rather than cutting across, therefore producing parts with extremely low levels of stress deformation and high levels of mechanical integrity. This results in far greater performance and reliability, together with outstanding levels of definition for components with complex contours.
Few may know that cold formed parts undergo work hardening during the forming process. This improves their machinability and durability still further, as well as being less costly, particularly where a precision finish is required.
Highly accurate internal and external profiles are also possible during cold forming, enabling precision parts to be manufactured with a significant impact on the performance of the equipment in which they are used.
Even stainless steel can be cold formed!
Historically, cold forming in stainless steel has been problematic due to the hardness and unique mechanical properties of this metal. Dawson Shanahan’s R&D department has been able to develop a unique process that enables the production of stainless steel cold formed parts, offering the same inherent advantages of this technology, but for a much less ductile metal than the likes of copper or aluminium. The derived advantages of cold forming stainless steel can be of benefit in a diverse range of areas, from laser applications, where cold formed nozzles can increase cutting precision significantly, to automotive engine parts, such as diesel injectors where stainless steel can replace copper to enhance the overall reliability of engines and achieve reduced CO² and particulate emissions, especially where bio-diesel is used.
This latest innovation opens up a world of new opportunities for the manufacture of precision parts, in particular in the healthcare sectors, including surgical instruments and equipment.
In short, cold forming not only delivers high quality parts but also significant ecological benefits compared to processes such as hot forging, where the high level of heat, and therefore energy, required comes at a price to the environment. Consequently, cold forming can contribute to a lower carbon footprint, as well as enhancing productivity and business performance. Hasn’t this got to be a win-win situation for all concerned?