METAL FORMING PROCESSES
Have you ever wonder how does a car door or a Saucepan or most of the kitchen utensils are manufactured? All of them are produced by a group of similar manufacturing processes governed by the same physical laws where large forces are applied to deform sheets of metal into a desired shapes and sizes and we classify them as Metal forming processes.
Metal forming is a general term for a large group of processes, that includes a wide variety of manufacturing processes.
Forming is the process in which the desired size and shape are obtained through the plastic deformation of a materials, i.e., when a metal is plastically or permanently deformed under the action of a strong applied force, it is in general classified as a metal forming process.
There are different types of metal forming processes, although in each case the basic principle remains same i.e. permanent deformation also known as plastic deformation of metal by the application of large force. Therefore, we can define forming , or metal forming, as the metalworking process of fashioning metal parts and objects through mechanical deformation. In this process the workpiece is reshaped without adding or removing material, and its mass remains unchanged. Forming operates on the materials science principle of plastic deformation, where the physical shape of a material is permanently deformed.
The characteristic of metal forming process is that the metal being processed is plastically deformed to shape it into a desired geometry. In order to plastically deform a metal, a force must be applied that will exceed the yield strength of the material.
When low amounts of stress are applied to a metal it will change its geometry slightly, in correspondence to the force that is exerted. Basically it will compress, stretch, and/ or bend a small amount.
The magnitude of the amount will be directly proportional to the force applied. Also the material will return to its original geometry once the force is released.
Just think of stretching a rubber band, then releasing it, and having it go back to its original shape. This is called elastic deformation. Once the stress on a metal increases past a certain point, it no longer deforms elastically, but starts to undergo plastic deformation.
In plastic deformation, the geometric change in the material is no longer directly proportional to stress and geometric changes remain after the stress is released; meaning that the material does not recover its shape.
The actual level of stress applied to a metal where elastic deformation turns to plastic deformation is called the proportional limit, and is often difficult to determine exactly.
The .002 offset convention is usually used to determine the yield point, which is taken for practical purposes as the stress level where plastic deformation, (yielding), begins to occur.
Stress and Strain Curve
It can be seen by the stress-strain graph that once the yield point of a metal is reached and it is deforming plastically, higher levels of stress are needed to continue its deformation. The metal actually gets stronger, the more it is deformed plastically. This is called strain hardening or work hardening.
As may be expected, strain hardening is a very important factor in metal forming processes. Strain hardening is often a problem that must be overcome, but many times strain hardening, when used correctly, is a vital part of the manufacturing process in the production of stronger parts.
Compared to other metalworking processes like cutting and joining metal forming tends to have more uniform characteristics across its different subprocesses.
Characteristics of Metal Forming ProcessesMetal forming processes are characterized by:
THE CONCEPT OF FLOW STRESSDuring a metal forming operation, it is important to know the force and power that will be needed to accomplish the necessary deformation. The stress- strain graph shows us that the more a work piece is deformed plastically, the more stress is needed.
The flow stress is the instantaneous value of the force necessary to continue the yielding and flow of the work material at any point during the process.
Flow stress can be considered as a function of strain. The flow stress value can be used to analyze what is going on at any particular point in the metal forming process.
The maximum flow stress may be a critical measurement in some metal forming operations, since it will specify the maximum force and power requirements for the machinery to perform the process.
The force needed at the maximum strain of the material would have to be calculated in order to determine maximum flow stress.
For different types of metal forming processes, the flow stress analysis may be different. For a process like forging, the maximum flow stress value would be very important. However, for a process like extrusion, where the metal is continuously being deformed and the different stages of the metal's deformation are occurring simultaneously, it is of interest to analyze the mean flow stress value.
THE CONCEPT OF STRAIN RATEThe strain rate for any particular manufacturing metal forming process is directly related to the speed at which deformation is occurring. A greater rate of deformation of the work piece will mean a higher strain rate. The specific process and the physical action of the equipment being used has a lot to do with strain rate. Strain rate will affect the amount of flow stress. The effect strain rate has on flow stress is dependent upon the metal and the temperature at which the metal is formed.
EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE ON METAL FORMINGProperties of a metal change with an increase in temperature. Therefore, the metal will react differently to the same manufacturing operation if it is performed under different temperatures and the manufactured part may posses different properties. For these reasons, it is very important to understand the materials that we use in our manufacturing process.
This involves knowing their behavior at various temperature ranges. In industrial metal forming manufacture, there are three basic temperature ranges at which a metal is mechanically worked or formed (which is known as metal forming process), the metal forming processes can be classified as,
COLD FORMING / COLD WORKING OF METALCold working, (or cold forming), is a metal forming process that is carried out at room temperature or a little above it.
In cold working, plastic deformation of the work causes strain hardening as discussed earlier. The yield point of a metal is also higher at the lower temperature range of cold forming. Hence, the force required to shape a part is greater in cold working than for warm working or hot working.
At cold working temperatures, the ductility of a metal is limited, and only a certain amount of shape change may be produced. Surface preparation is important in cold forming. Fracture of the material can be a problem, limiting the amount of deformation possible.
In fact, some metals will fracture from a small amount of cold forming and must be hot formed. One main disadvantage of this type of process is a decrease in the ductility of the part's material, but there are many advantages. The part will be stronger and harder due to strain hardening.
Cold forming causes directional grain orientation, which can be controlled to produce desired directional strength properties. Also, work manufactured by cold forming can be created with more accurate geometric tolerances and a better surface finish. Since low temperature metal forming processes do not require the heating of the material, a large amount of energy can be saved and faster production is possible. Despite the higher force requirements, the total amount of energy expended is much lower in cold working than in hot working.
WARM FORMING/ WORKINGWarm working, (or warm forming), is a metal forming process carried out above the temperature range of cold working, but below the recrystallization temperature of the metal. Warm working may be preferred over cold forming because it will reduce the force required to perform the operation. Also, the amount of annealing of the material that may have been necessary for the cold formed part may be less for warm working.
HOT FORMING OR HOT WORKING OF METALHot working, (or hot forming), is a metal forming process that is carried out at a temperature range that is higher than the recrystallization temperature of the metal being formed.
The behavior of the metal is significantly altered, due to the fact that it is above its recrystallization temperature. Utilization of different qualities of the metal at this temperature is the characteristic of hot working.
Although many of these qualities continue to increase with increasing temperature, there are limiting factors that make overly high temperatures undesirable.
During most metal forming processes the die is often cold or slightly heated. However, the metal stock for hot working will usually be at a higher temperature relative to the die.
In the design of metal forming process, it is critical to consider the flow of metal during the forming of the work. Specific metal flow, for different forming processes, is discussed in latter sections under each specific process. For metal forming manufacturing, in general, the temperature gradient between the die and the work has a large effect on metal flow during the process.
The metal nearer to the die surfaces will be cooler than the metal closer to the inside of the part, and cooler metal does not flow as easily. High temperature gradients, within the work, will cause greater differences in flow characteristics of different sections of the metal, these could be problematic. For example, metal flowing significantly faster at the center of the work compared to cooler metal near the die surfaces that is flowing slower, can cause part defects. Higher temperatures are harder to maintain throughout the metal forming process. Work cooling during the process can also result in more metal flow variations.
Another consideration with hot forming manufacture, with regard to the temperature at which to form the part, is that the higher the temperature the more reactive the metal is likely to be. Also if a part for a hot working process is too hot then friction, caused during the process, may further increase heat to certain areas causing melting, (not good), in localized sections of the work. In an industrial hot metal working operation, the optimum temperature should be determined according to the material and the specific manufacturing process. When above its recrystallization temperature a metal has a reduced yield strength, also no strain hardening will occur as the material is plastically deformed.
Shaping a metal at the hot working temperature range requires much less force and power than in cold working. Above its recrystallization temperature, a metal also possesses far greater ductility than at its cold worked temperature. The much greater ductility allows for massive shape changes that would not be possible in cold worked parts. The ability to perform these massive shape changes is a very important characteristic of these high temperature metal forming processes.
The work metal will recrystallize, after the process, as the part cools. In general, hot metal forming will close up vacancies and porosity in the metal, break up inclusions and eliminate them by distributing their material throughout the work piece, destroy old weaker cast grain structures and produce a wrought isotropic grain structure in the part.
These high temperature forming processes do not strain harden or reduce the ductility of the formed material. Strain hardening of a part may or may not be wanted, depending upon the application. Qualities of hot forming that are considered disadvantageous are poorer surface finish, increased scale and oxides, decarburization, (steels), lower dimensional accuracy, and the need to heat parts. The heating of parts reduces tool life, results in a lower productivity, and a higher energy requirement than in cold working.