Forging A Society: Metalworking Then and Now


Metalworking has been, by far, one of the most significant contributions to the development of the human race. Dating as far back as 4500 B.C., its development spans millennia, and its techniques come from a multitude of cultures.

Their possession, regarded as a sign of wealth, the earliest metals were hand-formed, using just hammers and heat. They were simple: primitive hand tools and weapons.

Then came the Dark Ages. During this period, science, culture, and economic progress may have stalled, but the manufacturing of hand-forged weapons flourished. Living during time of constant battle yielded a high demand for such tools and would lead to leaps forward in innovation and metalworking techniques. Hand forming iron and steel continued to evolve over thousands of years.

Fast-forward to the 1800’s: bringing about what we now know as the “blacksmith”: the modern equivalent of open-die forging. Much like the hammer and anvil used by the blacksmith back then, even more modern processes yet began emerging with simple, open dies. By the end of the century, as techniques and equipment evolved, the closed-die process was finally born.

Closed (or impression-die) forging moves hot material between two dies, forcing it to take the shape of the voids within. This allowed for the mass production of complex shapes and ended the need for major finish work.

Line shaft powered hammers became a thing of the past as both World Wars forced the industry to advance technologically. Forging equipment would see electric motors, hydraulics, and compressed air as their driving force and electric induction-heating units would replace heating with gas or coal.

Today, at Trenton Forging, we use these modern elements to produce a superior product in terms of strength, quality, and dimension control. They help our throughput and place product in the hands of our customers faster than ever before. We are the modern form of an antiquated blacksmith, ever-evolving to meet our customers’ needs and our own, but the cornerstones of our trade are forever forged in history.