Hot forging advantages over sheet metal in automotive
When choosing a manufacturing method for a serial automotive part, several factors must be balanced. What type of part is needed, and where will it be used in the car? Which alloy should be used? Above all, which method can maximize part quality, while minimizing cost and risk?
The alloys used for each part are chosen for their mechanical and chemical properties, such as strength, corrosion resistance, hardness, and machinability. These qualities depend on the microstructure of the material, which in part depends on the method of manufacture.
Many serial car parts made of non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, copper and brass can be formed from sheet metal or manufactured as hot forgings. The end use of a part is an important factor when choosing a production method. Certain parts, such as a cover plate for power steering or engine brackets, must be strong, durable, and shock resistant in order to withstand vibration and torque. Other parts may not require the same level of performance.
Sheet metal automotive parts
Sheet metal formation can be used for large numbers of identical parts at a relatively low cost, though the cost of tooling and equipment is high, as they tend to wear. Sheet metal parts are manufactured by cutting and stamping with one or more dies to change the shape and size of a blank piece of metal. The final part may be formed by additional processes such as punching, embossing, drawing, or folding.
A sheet metal part is typically thinner and not as rigid as a forged part, which can lead to defects. The stamping process results in leftover scrap metal, making it less cost and material efficient.
Hot forging of automotive parts
Forging of metals has been practiced for thousands of years. The basic process relies on applying strong forces to a workpiece to create a desired shape using hammer blows, presses, rolls, or dies.
In a fully-automated hot forging press, billets are heated and the correct temperature is constantly monitored. For die forging, the heated billet is positioned in the die and the product is forged in a single stroke. The forgings are then deburred using automated deburring equipment.
Hot forging removes any cracks or voids present in the metal and improves the microstructure, giving it superior strength. As a result, forged parts are the strongest and most durable parts available.
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For example, some hot forged aluminum alloys have high tensile strength while weighing much less than steel. Forged parts made with these alloys are especially useful in the automotive industry, where minimizing weight is a priority, but where the highest safety standards apply.
In most cases where durability and strength are not the highest criteria, part designs for automotive can be made with cheaper processing methods, such as sheet metal fabrication. However, when you need the highest quality part with the best material strength and the most homogenous microstructure, forging is the manufacturing process of choice.
About Bons & Evers
Our BE | Group companies have over 75 years of experience with hot forging of metals. Our success record serving high-profile clients in the automotive industry demonstrates our understanding of the requirements for this business field. Through our expertise in research and development, we can transform design concepts quickly and efficiently into products that can be made under serial manufacturing conditions at the highest quality for the lowest possible cost. Schedule an appointment and discuss your project and the challenges you might face.