The Advantages of Steel Forging vs Casting

Steel casting and forging are two uniquely different processes that provide their own exclusive benefits. Both casting and forging processes influence the final shape of a metal workpiece through unique heating and shaping techniques. There are many important factors to consider when selecting the best method to manufacture your product. So, which process will best suit your project specifications, casting or forging?

Essential Factors When Considering Forging vs Casting Services

Several considerations should be made before making a final decision on casting or forging processes for your project. These considerations will help you determine whether casting or forging will create parts that meet your project requirements. Casting vs forging consideration factors include:

  • Material type
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Amount of detail required
  • Strength requirements
  • Tolerance tightness
  • Net waste

Steel Forging Process

The steel and stainless steel forging process creates parts and components in various shapes and sizes. Through the use of dies, compressive forces, and varying temperatures, the steel forging process produces parts with increased strength, better consistency, a tighter grain structure, and increased lifespans. There are several different forging processes, including hot, warm, and cold forging, which can be utilized in open die and closed die forging processes. The following table identifies some of the strengths and weaknesses of steel forging.

Forging Advantages

Forging Disadvantages

Reliability – Forgings provide consistent ductility, known yields, and increased strength due to grain development.

Lower Tolerance Levels – The forging process may create parts that do not meet the requirements for high tolerances.

Structural Integrity – Forgings provide increased product strength and a high level of material predictability.

Limitations – Forged products may be limited in shape and may include defects from die failure.

Material Cost Savings – Materials for forging are generally less expensive than the materials required for casting.

Secondary Operations – Forged parts generally require secondary finishing services to meet part specifications.

Open Die Forging

Steel Casting Process

Casting processes utilize a mold that is injected or filled with molten metal. The metal within the mold then cools and solidifies into the form of a molded product. Steel castings are used to create parts that are too robust and intricate for forging processes. Some of the different steel casting processes include die casting, investment casting, and sand casting. The following table identifies some of the strengths and weaknesses of steel casting.

Metal Casting Advantages

Metal Casting Disadvantages

Increased Production Rate – Once the cast is created, high volume production rates generally follow.

Higher Costs – Initial casting tooling costs can be extremely high, which can make small-run productions difficult.

Higher Tolerances – Casting allows for increased tolerances that meet project criteria.

Lower Structural Integrity – Casting creates parts that are more porous than forged products.

Less Secondary Work – Finished casting products generally require fewer secondary services than forged parts.

Enhanced Process Control – The casting process must always be closely monitored to maintain quality assurance standards.

Casting vs Forging Which is Better?

Forging and casting are two very different manufacturing processes used to influence the shape of metal. In the casting process, metal is heated until it becomes molten. Then it is poured into a mold or vessel to create the desired shape. The material is pressed or hammered into a specific shape while still maintaining a solid state in the forging process.

So, which process is suitable for your project? Again, this decision comes back to project specification requirements. If your part or component requires increased strength and reliability with a cost-saving advantage, then forging may be the best choice. However, if increased production rates and higher tolerances are needed, casting may be the correct option.

Custom Forged Parts

Contact Great Lakes Forge for Custom Forging Services Today

If you have questions regarding the steel forging vs casting process or questions on which method is suitable for your project, contact our expert staff or give us a call at 800-748-0271, and we’ll gladly help. Great Lakes Forge is your trusted source for custom forgings.

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