What Is Cold Forming?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Cold forming is a manufacturing process where metal is worked at room temperature to create components and finished products. It can be less expensive and more efficient than other production methods, and is used to make a variety of goods including fasteners, car parts, and building supplies. Manufacturers can produce regular runs of specific cold formed materials as well as custom products by request for their customers. The cost of production can depend on the specifications of a project and the manufacturer’s level of familiarity with similar components.

Sheet metal can be shaped through cold forming.
Sheet metal can be shaped through cold forming.

In this process, a series of punches and dies are used to manipulate metal at room temperature. The piece can move through multiple steps to achieve a finished shape. Metals are squeezed into forms as well as punched to create specific forms like threaded screws with bulging heads to keep the screw in place, or worked sheets to sheathe car components.

Manufacturers can work a variety of metals with this technique. They evaluate the specifications of the project to determine which metal to use. Particular properties must be considered including the point at which the metal may become brittle or start to fracture, as this could be important in the cold forming process or in the finished product. The goal with cold forming is to force the metal to flow into and hold a new shape, not to push the metal past the breaking point to produce a part that may fail as a result of cracks and fatigue.

Finished parts made with this process can be burnished and otherwise treated to apply a finish, bring out shine, and remove rough edges. Once the part is completely done, a quality controller can check it to make sure it will be usable and falls within specifications. Automatic quality control may do this with the assistance of cameras and algorithms that can look for specific issues and pull parts for closer inspection if they appear to be defective. Cold forming plants use a number of measures like automation of inspection processes to control quality and limit waste.

Custom products can get expensive, because the firm may need to make custom dies and punches as well as other components like rollers in order to execute the order. Companies that need custom components for a specific project may request that the manufacturing components be stored for future runs. These will be less expensive because the tooling for cold forming is already set up, and the manufacturer doesn’t need to start from scratch.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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