Custom Forging

custom forgingIt’s no wonder metal forging has been practiced since the Bronze Age. The forging process renders metals stronger and longer lasting than their non-forged counterparts. Greater component strength and longer lifespan are qualities that potentially improve an operation’s productivity and profitability.

For over 50 years, Trenton Forging has served as a leading innovator in custom forging across a wide array of industries and applications.

What Is Forging?

Forging is a process used to reshape metal. It involves heating, deforming and finishing the material. During the process, the metal is forced into the desired shape using either a ram (or sometimes a hammer) and an anvil or a die press. For the latter option, the metal is enclosed in the die and then squeeze-formed into the intended shape.

During the forging process, the grains of the metal are realigned. This can help to product components and products with extreme resistance to pressure and excellent structural integrity. The results can be nearly any shape and size. Forging companies support manufacturing for heavy equipment, vehicles, medical supplies, aerospace applications and more.

The Forging Process

Forging employs various hammer-like tools or weights to strike red-hot steel and other metals to compress them. Repeated compression reorganizes the composition of the metal in advantageous ways. It alters the grain flow to align with the ultimate shape of the product, increasing its overall strength. It also eliminates air bubbles that can compromise integrity.

For smaller applications, a hand hammer may be used. Larger applications employ hydraulic machines that raise and drop heavy weights repeatedly onto the hot drop forged steel.

Closed die forging is the preferred method for components with complex configurations or varying wall thicknesses. A type of mold, called a die, pushes into the metal, compressing and forming it into the desired shape. Trenton Forging is proud to be an industry leader in closed die forging.

What Are the Types of Forging?

There are several processes used for forging. The following are the four most notable options:

  • Impression Die Forging: In this process (also called closed die), the metal is pressed between two (or more) dies containing a profile of the desired part. The metal is shaped by the contours on the dies. This process is suitable for parts ranging from a few ounces to 60,000 pounds.
  • Cold: This is a collection of shaping processes that are done between room temperature and a few hundred degrees, significantly lower than the temperatures used in other processes. Cold forging can involve bending, cold heading, coining, cold drawing, extrusions and more.
  • Open Die: For this type of forging, the dies have non-specific profiles. The workpiece is moved to create the desired shape between the dies. Open-die forging can be used on parts over 200,000 pounds in weight and 80 feet in length.
  • Seamless Rolled Ring: This process is used to create rings of metal. It involves punching a hole in a disk of material to create a donut shape. Then, the ring can be worked into the desired thickness and size.

Grades of Steel for Custom Forging

It takes a reliable stainless steel alloy to create custom steel forging products. Work with our team at Trenton Forging to identify the ideal alloy for your particular industry and equipment. Review common steel options before considering the best option for your specific steel forging component.

Comparing Stainless Steel Differences

Stainless steel comes in a bewildering number of types, organized in 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 series. Using the wrong alloy for your custom steel forging can result in a product that is too brittle, too ductile, difficult to work with or another manufacturing issue. Before selecting the series and type of steel, review the three main types of alloys:

  • Ferritic
  • Austenitic
  • Martensitic

All three relate to the amount of carbon absorbed in the iron during the heating process. The degree to which the steel is heated and cooled dramatically affect the carbon levels and features of that particular alloy. Additional metals can be introduced to further alter alloys to prepare them for forging processes.

Review common 400 and 300 series steels before discussing your custom process with Trenton. We work with all types of stainless steel, but some alloys are better suited to custom forging. Discuss the features required for your component to select the exact type before we start the forging process.

400 Series Steel

custom steel forgingSteel alloys in the 400 series include martensitic and ferritic chromium alloys. Each type in the series is typically affordable and easily capable of creating custom steel forging products. Some of the most popular types include 440, 420, 409 and 408.

Type 440 is a great option for forging knives. Also known as cutlery-grade steel, 440 boasts excellent edge retention and a reliable hardness. Type 420 includes similar features and is easily polishable. This steel can also be used in surgical applications.

Use type 409 for custom automotive exhaust pieces. This 400 series steel combines affordability, heat resistance and durable throughout the manufacturing process. Finally, many forging processes can turn type 408 into heat-resistant components. This chromium-nickel option won’t resist corrosion like other alloys, so it may need to be protected from corrosive elements.

300 Series Steel

Austenitic chromium-nickel materials make up the 300 series of stainless steel. Compare the rugged type 301, popular type 304 and sea-worthy type 316 to get a good sense of this popular series of steel for your next custom steel forging project.

Type 301 is typically used to form products thanks to its high ductility. After forming a custom product with type 301 steel, you can offer your clients a wear-resistant, weldable product that competes with other alloys.

Find out why many manufacturers choose 18/8 steel, or type 304, for their custom products. This highly versatile option comes with many of the traditional advantages of stainless steel for balanced performance.

It’s tough to find stainless steel that can withstand extreme corrosion. For this reason, type 316 is popularly used in marine, food preparation and surgical applications.


Trenton enjoys being on the cutting edge of the market. We are always eager to incorporate new technologies in all aspects of advanced custom steel forging.

3D Laser Scanning – Our state-of-the-art scanner can map and replicate your existing part in a fraction of the time required by conventional digitizing. Components that call for custom forging can be complex. No matter how intricate the part, specialized sensors and light beams calculate thousands of coordinates per second, generating a new version of your product within minutes.

Laser-scanning technology facilitates simulation and reverse engineering, enabling you to correct flaws or make design changes.

3D Printing – If your operation needs a prototype for testing or design purposes, nothing compares to the fast turnaround of 3D printing. Your drawings and specifications can become a quality prototype in just a day or two.

In-House Capabilities – As an important part of our full-service role in custom forging, Trenton has developed in-house facilities for tool-and-die forging and die welding. Even Trenton’s electrical power is supplied by our own dedicated sub-station.

As we increase our capacity and minimize our overhead, we are happy to pass the savings on to you. This is just one of the ways we work to maintain the fastest product-to-market timeline in the industry.


Whatever brings you to Trenton Forging, we will work with you to match your product needs with our expertise. From chisel bits and automobile hinges to geodesic dome cones, we routinely provide forging for clients in agricultural, construction, military, automotive and marine industries, to name a few. Here are a few examples of industries Trenton routinely serves:

Automotive – Trenton custom automotive components are used in leading OEMs in the industry. From high-volume exhaust flanges to forgings for specialized engine parts, our facility gives you the precision you need for your exact automotive components. We have the capability to mass produce parts or create a small selection of prototypes for your project.

Military – Custom steel forging components from Trenton can be found on America’s front line. We’re proud to serve our military through custom forgings of bolt components, pistol slides, military vehicle components and more. We’ll work with you to identify the ideal alloy and offer precise forging services for America’s finest.

Agriculture – When Trenton entered the agriculture industry as a supplier of forgings, we expected it to be challenging. Agriculture is subject to high downtime rates due to frequent equipment damage and repair. Tractors and combines are workhorses, and the durability of their components is essential.

Trenton relishes the opportunity to develop creative solutions that boost component durability and reduce downtime for our clients.

Railroad – The strength and reliability forging offers is essential to components used in the railroad industry. When we forge railroad brake pins or track-switch irons, as with many forged steel applications, we understand safety is part of the equation. Trenton aims to produce components with the high degree of structural integrity and dependability our clients’ diverse applications require.

Custom Steel Forging

Since our inception in 1967, Trenton Forging has served as a first-rate supplier of custom steel-forging products and technologies. We are committed to living up to our reputation for fast turnaround times, unsurpassed product quality and exemplary customer service. We look forward to the opportunity to exceed your expectations and help you find affordable solutions to your operation’s unique requirements.