Metalworking: an overview of the most used

Metalworking is an essential part of the manufacturing industry, contributing to the production of many products ranging from mechanical components to electronic devices. This article aims to provide an overview of the main methodologies and processes used in the metal machining sector, highlighting the importance of advanced techniques, innovative solutions and protective products to ensure the quality and efficiency of end products.

What are the main metalworking techniques?

The main metalworking techniques include a large number of processes, each with its own specific characteristics and applications. Some of the most common techniques are listed below:

  1. Rolling: This metalworking technique involves the plastic deformation of a metal material by compression between two surfaces or rolls. It is used to produce metal sheets, plates, bars and profiles.
  2. Forging: Forging involves the deformation of metal by compression in a mould by hammering or pressing. This process produces parts with high strength and structural integrity, such as shafts, gears and automotive components.
  3. Moulding: Moulding involves forming metal by pressing it into a mould to obtain complex and detailed shapes. It includes processes such as cold moulding, hot moulding and injection moulding.
  4. Extrusion: Extrusion involves pushing a metal material through a mould to create uniform cross-sections. It is widely used to produce complex sections such as tubes, bars and structural profiles.
  5. Drawing: This technique involves passing a metal material through a series of dies to reduce its cross-sectional area and improve its surface finish. It is commonly used to produce precision wire, cable and tubing.
  6. Cutting: This process involves separating metal into smaller pieces using cutting tools such as saws, shears, drills and dies.
  7. Welding: Welding is the process of joining two or more metal parts by applying heat and/or pressure, often with the addition of a filler metal. It includes techniques such as arc welding, gas welding, laser welding and brazing.
  8. Machining: This includes a variety of processes that remove excess material from a workpiece through the use of sharp or abrasive tools, such as milling, turning, drilling, grinding and honing.
  9. Surface finishing: After primary machining, metal parts can be subjected to surface treatments to improve their appearance and functional properties, such as sandblasting, polishing, industrial painting and anodising.

These are just a few of the main metalworking techniques, and the adoption of each depends on the specific requirements of the production process and the end product.

What are hot processes?

Hot metal working are machining processes that involve deforming the material at high temperatures, usually above the recrystallisation temperature of the metal. These processes offer several advantages, including easier forming, better surface finish and faster production speed. Let’s take a look at the main hot metal working processes together!

Forging is an ancient and widely used process involving the plastic deformation of metal by compression in a mould by hammering or pressing. Similar to forging, hot forging involves forming metal by pressing it into a heated mould. This process is ideal for the production of complex and detailed parts such as bolts, screws, cogs and automotive components.

Hot rolling is another common metalworking process involving the deformation of metal by compression between two rollers at high temperatures. It is often used to create metal sheets, plates, rods and profiles. While hot stamping is another metalworking method that involves the separation of metal sheets at high temperatures through the pressure of a die. This process is widely used to create parts with precise shapes and defined edges, such as anchor plates and automotive parts.

Hot extrusion, on the other hand, is a process in which a metal material is pushed through a heated die to create uniform cross-sections.  Another type of forging is a traditional process that involves heating a metal part to high temperatures followed by its deformation by hammering on an anvil. This method is used for the production of artistic parts, hand tools and special mechanical components.

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What are cold working processes?

Cold metal working are processes that take place at or slightly above room temperature, without heating the material. These processes are often used to achieve greater dimensional accuracy, a better surface finish and greater material strength. But what are cold metalworking processes?

In the cold stamping process, metal is deformed through pressure in a mould, without pre-heating of the material. This method is ideal for the production of parts with tight dimensional tolerances and a high surface finish, such as bolts, screws, washers and automotive parts. Cold drawing involves passing a metal material through a series of dies at room temperature to reduce its cross section and improve its surface finish. It is commonly used to produce precision wire, cable and tubing.

Cold bending consists of deforming metal by applying force without pre-heating the material. This process is used to create parts with curved or angled shapes, such as structural profiles, supports and tool components. Cold grinding is a surface finishing process involving the removal of material by abrasion to obtain a smooth and precise surface. It is used to improve the dimensional accuracy and surface finish of hot or cold-worked metal parts.

In cold punching, holes or openings are formed in a metal part by applying force without pre-heating the material. This process is useful for the production of parts with precise holes, such as fastening plates and structural components. Cold blanking, similar to punching, involves the separation of metal sheets by pressing a die without pre-heating the material. It is used to create parts with precise edges and complex geometries, such as anchor plates and automotive parts.

What are metalworking machines?

The machinery used in metalworking varies according to the type of process and specific production requirements. Listed below are some of the main types of machinery used in metalworking:

  1. Lathe: A lathe is a machine tool used for metalworking that rotates the workpiece around its axis while one or more cutting tools remove material to create symmetrical shapes such as cylinders, cones and flat surfaces.
  2. Milling machine: A milling machine is a machine tool used to remove material from a surface using rotating tools with multiple cutting edges. Milling machines can be used to create grooves, flat surfaces, inclined surfaces and other complex contours.
  3. Sawing machine: A sawing machine is a machine used to cut pieces of metal into smaller pieces. There are different types of saws, including band saws, circular saws and abrasive disc saws, each of which is suitable for different applications and materials.
  4. Punching machine: A punching machine is a machine used to create holes, openings or reliefs in metal materials by applying concentrated force to a specific point. Punching machines can be operated manually, hydraulically or by CNC (Computer Numerical Control).
  5. Press: A press is a machine used to deform metal by applying force through dies or moulds. Presses can be used for stamping, blanking, bending and forming operations.
  6. Welding machine: A welding machine is a machine used to join metal materials by applying heat and/or pressure. There are different types of welding machines, including arc welders, gas welders, resistance welders and laser welders.
  7. Numerically controlled machining centre (CNC): A CNC machining centre is a machine tool that uses a computer to control the position and movement of tools during metalworking. These machines can perform a wide range of operations, including milling, turning, drilling and threading.

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