Drop Forged Carbon Steel

drop forged carbon steel
What Is Drop Forged Carbon Steel? Carbon steel refers to the material in steel forgings, while drop forging refers to the manufacturing process. The process is commonly used to create high-quality parts for casting, fabrication, or machining processes.

This unique production process comes with unique benefits, making the components suitable for high-pressure, high-stress working environments such as the machinery, construction, and oilfield industries.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is classified as the steel in which the key interstitial alloy metal is carbon. Carbon makes up 0.12–2.0% of the total steel composition, with other elements including cobalt and chromium making up the additional percentage. It is generally accepted within the industry that stainless steel mixtures should not be used in carbon steel.

While stainless steel should not be used as secondary alloying elements, the concentrations of primary and secondary elements can be adjusted depending on the intended use. For instance, increasing the percentage of carbon in the composition can increase its hardness level.

Drop Forging

Steel drop forging is a production process in which a hammer is used to reshape heated metal into a particular die or tool shape. The metal must be preheated to make its structure easier to shape. Once the material begins to cool, it can be transformed into the desired shape. This process can also result in increased strength.

There are two main types of forging: open-die and closed die forging. The closed-die process fully encapsulates the item, while the open-die method does not. Trenton Forging specializes in the closed die drop forging method, also referred to as impression-die forging.

The die drop hammer forging process is completed when a metal component is situated in a die that is attached to an anvil. A hammer situated above the anvil is then dropped onto the component, making a powerful blow. As the metal dissolves, it flows over the open sections of the die, reshaping the component into the desired shape.

One hammer drop may be enough to properly shape the part, while other figures may take multiple blows. The process sometimes involves a part moving between various dies to complete transforming the raw material into a finished tool.

While the investment involved in closed-die forging with an American forging company can be pricey initially, the recurring costs are relatively low once the upfront expense has been absorbed. The initial upfront cost can be attributed to the time, precision, and manufacturing it takes to produce the dies. Once the dies have been created, it is relatively inexpensive to produce subsequent iterations of forging manufacturing.

Benefits of Carbon Steel Forgings

There are many benefits to using drop forged carbon steel for your industrial projects:

  • Impact strength: Carbon steel forgings have excellent strength qualities because of the heating process the steel undertakes. This strength makes the steel optimal for withstanding high pressure, stress, and heat. These custom forgings can also withstand heavy loads.
  • Component efficiency: Drop forged carbon steel can be shaped into numerous sizes and shapes because of the flexibility of the heating process. This heating process creates components that are malleable, precise, and expertly produced.
  • Economical process: This type of forging produces tools through a dying process that is economical compared to other forging processes and materials. While the initial investment involved in the closed-die process can be pricey, it is cheaper than other production methods after a few production runs. For companies that use steel in numerous production runs, the low cost can translate into significant savings.
  • Excellent grain structure: The forging process creates steel that has a tight, efficient grain structure that makes it solid and durable. Forgings do not require expensive alloy metal percentages to achieve a high level of strength.

Further, carbon steel forgings are typically more rigid and more dependable than other metal types in which the grain flows of the material have been altered. Carbon steel forgings retain a tight grain structure, keeping the structural integrity.

Carbon Steel Grades

Carbon steel forgings are typically divided into four classifications based on their percentage of carbon:

  1. Low-grade carbon steel: Classified as mild steel, low carbon steel generally has between 0.04% and 0.3% carbon. Depending on the requirements of your project, you can choose to have a specific element added or deducted from the composition. Low-grade carbon steel is suitable for applications such as pipelines, cookware, and fencing.
  2. Medium grade carbon steel: More durable than low-grade carbon steel, medium carbon steel generally has between 0.31% and 0.6% carbon. Most alloys of this classification also have between 0.56% and 1.65% manganese. The strength of this carbon steel grade is high, but it is harder to cut, form or weld. Medium carbon steel is suitable for applications such as producing infrastructure support beams, axle shafts, and train wheels.
  3. High-grade carbon steel: Classified as carbon tool steel, high-grade carbon steel generally has between 0.61% and 1.5% carbon. This steel type is hard to bend and weld and can become quite brittle once it undergoes heat treatments. High-grade carbon steel is suitable for applications such as producing machinery tools and masonry nails.
  4. Ultra high-grade carbon steel: Ultra-grade carbon steel is solid but can become brittle because of its heat treatment processes. It typically contains between 0.96% and 2.1% carbon. Extremely durable, this type of carbon alloy is used to machine truck springs and knives.

Typical Applications for Carbon Steel Forgings

Carbon steel forgings are used in a wide variety of industrial applications. Depending on the toughness and malleability, some grades are more suited to particular applications than others. Here are some of the most popular carbon steel grades and their typical applications:

  • 12L14 carbon steel: This popular steel grade is often used to make hose ends, garbage pin axels, control links, wheel nuts and inserts, brake pistons, concrete anchors, and various gearbox tools.
  • 8620 carbon steel: This popular steel grade is often used to machine gear rings, crankshafts, and car gears.
  • A36 carbon steel: This durable steel grade is often used to produce automotive tools, forgings, building materials, tanks, and fixtures.
  • A513 carbon steel: This strong steel grade has a high percentage of carbon, making it ideal for making automotive components and mandrel tubing.

What Is the Difference Between Drop Forging and Press Forging?

The terms drop forging and press forging are often used interchangeably. However, the processes are different and should not be confused. Drop forging occurs when the steel is hammered multiple times to make it more malleable. The process can be operated at any temperature, including at high or room temperatures. During the drop forging process, the layers on the steel surface are transformed into a preferred shape. However, the middle of the metal remains largely untouched. The initial investment for drop forgings is less than press forging, but costs can become more expensive as the production volumes increase.

On the other hand, the press forging process utilizes a slow, consistent pressure to shape metal into a predetermined shape. Instead of using multiple hammer blows to shape the metal, this process uses one single blow. Press forging can also be processed at any temperature.

Trenton Forging specializes in custom closed-die forging services. We work with steel, steel alloys, and stainless steel in our production processes. We produce high-quality tools for a variety of industrial applications.