Stainless Steel Forging

stainless steel forging

At Trenton Forging, we carefully select the ideal stainless steel grade for manufacturing your particular workpiece. Work with us to compare and source quality grades of steel before selecting the optimal option for your stainless steel forging service.

Common Grades of Stainless Steel

Our team can assist you in comparing the pros and cons of these and other stainless steel grades for your project. 300 and 400 series alloys are the most common for manufacturing, but you may also select a 200, 500 or 600 series alloy for your particular application.

There are other grades within each series, which may also offer the unique combination of hardness, heat resistance and corrosion resistance you need.

300 Series

The 300 series used in stainless steel forging is made of austenitic chromium-nickel alloys. Here are some basic features of common 300 series steel alloys:

  • Type 301: This alloy boasts great wear resistance, weldability and rapid hardening during mechanical working. Its highly ductile nature makes it a great option for formed products.
  • Type 304: The classic 18/8 steel alloy, also referred to as A2, is the most common grade of stainless steel.
  • Type 316: Use this steel for its marine-grade properties. A high chloride corrosion resistant, particularly when compared to type 304, makes it a great option for surgical and food preparation uses.

400 Series

These ferritic and martensitic chromium alloys are affordable, easy to work with and come with some unique features between each type. Compare basic 400 series steels to see how you can improve your stainless steel forging process:

  • Type 408: This chromium-nickel alloy is resistant to heat, but isn’t suited to applications where corrosion may be a factor.
  • Type 409: One of the most affordable stainless steel alloys, 409 is commonly used in automobile exhaust manufacturing.
  • Type 420: A martensitic steel, type 420 is often used in surgical applications. It has high polishability and is referred to as cutlery grade.
  • Type 440: Similar to 420, 440 is suitable for cutlery applications. Thanks to the hardness and edge retention, it’s one of the highest grades of cutlery steel.

Stainless Steel Differences

In order to better understand the various grades of forging stainless steel, it’s important to understand the basic types of stainless steel and how their structures affect their properties. Most metals have a crystalline lattice structure. Most of the atoms in stainless steel are iron and carbon. Ferritic, austenitic and martensitic are all iron crystal structure options that greatly affect the overall quality of stainless steel.

One of the most important aspects of these structural differences is the amount of carbon the iron structures can absorb. Increased levels of carbon usually lead to harder, more brittle steel. No steel heat treatment perfectly shapes every crystalline structure, so the heating and cooling process can create various structures within the same piece of steel. The characteristics of each series type and grade reflect the overall structure and qualities of a particular alloy.


Ferrite crystals contain the least amount of carbon. A ring of iron atoms form around a single iron atom in the middle, creating very little space for carbon atoms to be absorbed. Most ferritic alloys have average hardness and strength and limited corrosion resistance.


Once ferrite is heated to approximately 912 degrees Celsius, the crystal structures change and are capable of absorbing up to 2% carbon. While this carbon remains in the stainless steel forging alloy at high temperatures, it often reverts to ferritic steel once cooled. Manganese or nickel must be introduced to the metal to hold its carbon and austenitic properties. These properties include high corrosion resistance and hardness.


Quenched steel creates martensite, which is the leading property of martensitic stainless steel forging alloys. Developed by and named after Adolf Martens, a 20th century metallurgist, martensitic steel has excellent hardness and proves to be a popular option for sharp blades. The chemical resistance, however, is less than in austenitic steel.

Options for Stainless Steel Manufacturing

Once you determine the optimal steel structure and grade for your manufacturing process, you’ll need to compare manufacturing options. Whether you choose stainless steel forging, casting or machining plays a critical role in the affordability, reliability and precision of your workpieces.


Trenton Forging uses closed die forging to create detailed workpiece with minimal waste materials. Forging can create products ranging from 15 pounds down to one-tenth of a pound. The process starts with heating the steel to liquid form, which improves the grain structure of the alloy. Next, it flows into a precision mold. Air-drop hammers strike the closed-impression dies as many times as necessary to create the ideal shape. Compared to machining, this process uses very little waste materials.


Similar to stainless steel forging, casting also starts with molten metal and a detailed mold. Casting involves pouring the metal into the mold and allowing gravity to assist the liquid in flowing throughout the mold. This process doesn’t require the intense striking of a forging process, but comes with limitations. You need to carefully inspect components created in a cast, as internal voids and other inconsistencies can compromise the workpieces.


CNC machining is another popular alternative to stainless steel forging for some industrial applications. A CNC machine takes a steel piece, programmed instructions and cutting tool to create a detailed, repeatable workpiece. The lines, corners and other features of the workpiece can be more detailed and intricate than a forged piece, but CNC machining creates a significant amount of waste.

Stainless Steel Forging Advantages

The forging process is highly refined and requires multiple steps. From raw material procurement and tool creation to heat treating and final inspection, we spend the necessary time to create a product that will last longer and perform better. We form products using closed die forging to reduce much of the post-processing time and effort.

This allows us to offer you the benefits of drop forged steel with a more efficient timeline. Prevent excess material waste and downtime by working with a leader in efficient forging.

At Trenton Forging, we use only the highest quality stainless steel to provide increased durability, extended lifetime, improved heat resistance, increased corrosion resistance and a protective oxide layer so you get unmatched results.

Improved Heat Resistance

Heat resistance is essential for high-friction and high-heat applications. This property is critical for automotive components, tooling, chemical processing components and other products that experience high temperatures for prolonged periods of time. The process results in components that can withstand extreme temperatures without deforming or losing their structural integrity.

Increased Corrosion Resistance

Corrosive components can quickly degrade other materials. Don’t compromise the quality of your components by introducing alloys to corrosive materials without the proper protection. Forging stainless steel with our innovative closed die forging techniques increases the corrosion resistance of the alloy. Use forged stainless steel to create valves, pumps and other products for petrochemical or marine equipment.

Oxide Layer Protection

During the process of stainless steel forging a protective oxide layer is created that extends the lifespan of your components and works to keep them operating efficiently through harsh conditions. This oxide layer reduces the risk of stress cracking, pitting, deformation, crevice corrosion and other factors that would otherwise compromise the structural integrity of your forged products.

Forging Services

Contact us today to discuss stainless steel forging and find out how we can help improve the quality, efficiency and lifespan of your forged components.