Manufacturing Processes For Metal Products
When designing a new product, the mechanical engineer and the industrial designer should choose the best manufacturing process. Using the right manufacturing process can reduce the cost and improve the quality. Here are some common processes to produce metal parts.
Casting is a manufacturing process in which a liquid material is usually poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. The solidified part is also known as a casting, which is ejected or broken out of the mold to complete the process. Casting materials are usually metals. Casting is most often used for making complex shapes that would be otherwise difficult or uneconomical to make by other methods.
Sand casting is a metal casting process characterized by using sand as the mold material. Sand castings are produced in specialized factories called foundries. Over 70% of all metal castings are produced via sand casting process.
Investment casting has been used in various forms for the last 5,000 years. In its earliest forms, beeswax was used to form patterns necessary for the casting process. Today, more advanced waxes, refractory materials and specialist alloys are typically used for making patterns. Investment casting is valued for its ability to produce components with accuracy, repeatability, versatility and integrity in a variety of metals and high-performance alloys.
The process can be used for both small castings of a few ounces and large castings weighing several hundred pounds. It can be more expensive than die casting or sand casting, but per-unit costs decrease with large volumes. Investment casting can produce complicated shapes that would be difficult or impossible with other casting methods. It can also produce products with exceptional surface qualities and low tolerances with minimal surface finishing or machining required. Die Casting:
Die casting is a metal casting process that is characterized by forcing molten metal under high pressure into a mold cavity. The mold cavity is created using two hardened tool steel dies which have been machined into shape and work similarly to an injection mold during the process. Most die castings are made from non-ferrous metals, specifically zinc, copper, aluminium, magnesium, lead, pewter, and tin-based alloys. Depending on the type of metal being cast, a hot- or cold-chamber machine is used.
Low Pressure Casting:
The low-pressure casting process proves itself to be predestined for the conversion of exceptionally high quality demands. In low-pressure casting, the furnace is pressurized whereby the molten aluminum is brought into the casting die through the riser tube. The die is filled by slowly climbing, controlled, and above all, constant pressure. The laminar filling process avoids the formation of oxidation, the onset of cold currents and the danger of air inclusions.
Centrifugal casting or rotocasting is a casting technique that is typically used to cast thin-walled cylinders. It is used to cast such materials as metal, glass, and concrete. It is noted for the high quality of the results attainable, particularly for precise control of their metallurgy and crystal structure. Unlike most other casting techniques, centrifugal casting is chiefly used to manufacture stock materials in standard sizes for further machining, rather than shaped parts tailored to a particular end-use.
Squeeze casting is a combination of casting and forging process. The process can result in the highest mechanical properties attainable in a cast product. The development of squeeze casting process, can usher in tremendous possibility for manufacturing of components of aluminium alloys, which are not properly commercialized as yet. It can also be effective in for import substitution of critical components.
Continuous casting, also called strand casting, is the process whereby molten metal is solidified into a “semifinished” billet, bloom, or slab for subsequent rolling in the finishing mills. Prior to the introduction of continuous casting in the 1950s, steel was poured into stationary molds to form ingots. Since then, “continuous casting” has evolved to achieve improved yield, quality, productivity and cost efficiency. It allows lower-cost production of metal sections with better quality, due to the inherently lower costs of continuous, standardised production of a product, as well as providing increased control over the process through automation. This process is used most frequently to cast steel (in terms of tonnage cast). Aluminium and copper are also continuously cast.
Forging is a manufacturing process involving the shaping of metal using localized compressive forces. The blows are delivered with a hammer (often a power hammer) or a die. Forging is often classified according to the temperature at which it is performed: cold forging (a type of cold working), warm forging, or hot forging (a type of hot working). For the latter two, the metal is heated, usually in a forge. Forged parts can range in weight from less than a kilogram to hundreds of metric tons. Forging has been done by smiths for millennia; the traditional products were kitchenware, hardware, hand tools, edged weapons, cymbals, and jewellery. Since the Industrial Revolution, forged parts are widely used in mechanisms and machines wherever a component requires high strength; such forgings usually require further processing (such as machining) to achieve a finished part. Today, forging is a major worldwide industry.
In metalworking, rolling is a metal forming process in which metal stock is passed through one or more pairs of rolls to reduce the thickness and to make the thickness uniform. The concept is similar to the rolling of dough. Rolling is classified according to the temperature of the metal rolled. If the temperature of the metal is above its recrystallization temperature, then the process is known as hot rolling. If the temperature of the metal is below its recrystallization temperature, the process is known as cold rolling. In terms of usage, hot rolling processes more tonnage than any other manufacturing process, and cold rolling processes the most tonnage out of all cold working processes. Roll stands holding pairs of rolls are grouped together into rolling mills that can quickly process metal, typically steel, into products such as structural steel (I-beams, angle stock, channel stock, and so on), bar stock, and rails. Most steel mills have rolling mill divisions that convert the semi-finished casting products into finished products.
Drawing is a metalworking process which uses tensile forces to stretch metal or glass. As the metal is drawn (pulled), it stretches thinner, into a desired shape and thickness. Drawing is classified in two types: sheet metal drawing and wire, bar, and tube drawing. The specific definition for sheet metal drawing is that it involves plastic deformation over a curved axis. For wire, bar, and tube drawing the starting stock is drawn through a die to reduce its diameter and increase its length. Drawing is usually done at room temperature, thus classified a cold working process, however it may be performed at elevated temperatures to hot work large wires, rods or hollow sections in order to reduce forces. Drawing differs from rolling in that the pressure of drawing is not transmitted through the turning action of the mill but instead depends on force applied locally near the area of compression. This means the amount of possible drawing force is limited by the tensile strength of the material, a fact that is particularly evident when drawing thin wires.
Stamping (also known as pressing) is the process of placing flat sheet metal in either blank or coil form into a stamping press where a tool and die surface forms the metal into a net shape. Stamping includes a variety of sheet-metal forming manufacturing processes, such as punching using a machine press or stamping press, blanking, embossing, bending, flanging, and coining. This could be a single stage operation where every stroke of the press produces the desired form on the sheet metal part, or could occur through a series of stages. The process is usually carried out on sheet metal, but can also be used on other materials, such as polystyrene. Progressive dies are commonly feed from a coil of steel, coil reel for unwinding of coil to a straightener to level the coil and then into a feeder which advances the material into the press and die at a predetermined feed length. Depending on part complexity, the number of stations in the die can be determined. Stamping is usually done on cold metal sheet. See Forging for hot metal forming operations.