Die casting and metal forging are very different metal shaping methods, but both are appropriate for specific situations. Which type of metal shaping you use will depend on your particular metal part needs. If you’re trying to decide between metal forging and die casting, it helps to know the processes and advantages of each.
What Is Metal Forging?
Metal forging is the classic method for shaping metal. You might first think of a medieval image of a blacksmith banging away at a sword on an anvil with a hammer as an early example of metal forging. Today, a high-tech hammering machine replaces the blacksmith and a part die stands in for the anvil, but the principle is the same.
In metal forging, a machine physically forces the heated metal material into an open die until it conforms to the desired part shape. Unlike in die casting, the material is not molten. It is still in a solid state, so the machine has to hammer the metal into the cast. There are multiple metal forging methods, including cold, warm and hot forging.
Forged parts are used in various applications, such as:
- Electric power
- Industrial machinery
- Commercial equipment
- Industrial and hand-held tools
- Construction equipment
- Plumbing fixtures
- Railroad equipment
- Ships and boats
Pros and Cons of Metal Forging
Some advantages to metal forging include a denser, mechanically strong part that is highly resistant to force and wear. Metal forging also typically results in few cavity defects and minimal porosity.
You can make a metal forging using steel, titanium or iron because you do not need to melt the material completely. For projects involving high-volume production runs, metal forging is relatively cost-effective. Plus, once you have the tools necessary for the forging process, you’ll be able to manufacture products quickly and minimize downtime. Another pro of metal forging is products with continuous grain flow and size.
While metal forging has several benefits, the tooling required is often more costly than that involved in die casting. Forged products tend to be heavier as well, which may not be useful for your application. One of the primary cons of metal forging is that the solid material doesn’t flow well, resulting in size limitations and making it harder to achieve specific shapes, cavities or details.
What Is Die Casting?
Die casting is a much more modern, technologically advanced form of metal shaping. The metal is melted and forced into a closed die via hydraulic or pneumatic pressure, where it will then cool into the desired shape. The resulting component is considered a “casting.” Once it has cooled and hardened, the ejection process can begin, allowing for the removal of the piece.
Numerous industries can benefit from using die casting for product manufacturing, including:
- Decorative finishes
- Household appliances
- Power tools
Pros and Cons of Die Casting
There are several advantages to using die casting over metal forging. Die casting tooling tends to be less expensive than forging tooling since they do not have to absorb as much impact during the casting process. In addition, die casting is much more efficient, allowing for the production of many copies of the same part in a short amount of time.
Also, you can produce much better-defined and more refined parts through die casting than you can with metal forging. You can feasibly die cast significantly larger components than you can forge as well. If you are working with alloys, die casting is more appropriate since you can add them to the melted metal.
You can also use die casting when you need to create complex shapes, as it is better suited to this process than metal forging. Large production runs are acceptable for die casting too, as are thin-walled products. With die casting, the result is more likely to resemble your specifications, meaning you’ll need little to no time for secondary machining.
When to Use Die Casting vs. Metal Forging
While large manufacturing projects will usually require die casting, there are some situations where metal forging will be a better option. If porosity, cavities and shrinkage have been issues for you, metal forging can help you avoid these problems. If you have had a problem with your parts’ durability, you might want to try metal forged parts.
Similarly, if part wear has been an issue, metal forging may be an option to consider. For example, metal shackles may be more suitable for forging than casting. Shackles are an item that you probably will not need in mass quantities and for which strength and durability are crucial. This item requires a specific, solid metal rather than an alloy.
When you’re trying to decide which process will work best for your application, consider these factors:
- Desired product size: Metal forging has a maximum size limit. Die casting will likely be the better choice if you need to create larger products.
- Required strength levels: Forged products are usually stronger in particular areas, while castings are more uniform. The process you choose should be conducive to the strength you need.
- Complexity of the part: If the item you’re making has a relatively simple shape, you could use metal forging. Otherwise, you’ll likely want to stick with die casting.
- Cost-effectiveness of production: While die-casting is generally less expensive, there are instances where it will make more economic sense to go with metal forging instead. Factors including anticipated production run and material type can influence the cost of both processes. Choose the one that makes the most sense for your part requirements and budget.
Contact Premier Die Casting for Metal Casting
Premier Die Casting Company uses state-of-the-art machines to produce high-quality parts. We use meticulous methods for detecting and correcting any process issues quickly. Parts cast by Premier are durable, high quality, precise and consistent.
Premier offers high-pressure die casting for industries ranging from medical products to firearms to industrial equipment to telecommunications and more. Contact us today to find out how Premier Die Casting serves the machine part needs of multiple industries.