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Casting vs. Forging:

Discovering if a Casting Conversion is Right For Your Company

casting vs. forging

When it comes to metalworking, a question often asked is …“casting or forging?”

The difference between casting & forging

The discussion around casting conversions has seen greater debate over the past few years as companies start looking for either a better supply-chain solution or stronger, sounder and technically superior components. As engineers begin to evaluate the long term benefits of forgings compared to castings or fabrications, they’ve begun to realize that forgings can be every bit as competitive price-wise while delivering top-quality components. Additionally, (contrary to popular beliefs) with the more recent advances in forging technology, forging facilities are able to produce forgings for applications requiring more complex shapes.

Does this sound like you? If yes, keep reading...

Forging is a viable solution to your problem if you find yourself in any of the below situations:

  • You spend too much time searching for casting patterns or manufacturers.
  • Your component is a critical part within a product’s design.
  • The current design is continually causing issues from your customer’s perspective.
  • You’re frequently performing rework or weld repairs on your steel castings, which may also cause delivery problems for your company.
  • You’re wasting valuable time and materials on questionable castings. Material can be reimbursed and time can be compensated, but lost opportunity cannot be accounted for.
  • Long lead times for the current casting design result in high losses of revenue during downtime.

When should you start thinking about a casting conversion?

Today’s high strength material users are increasingly obliged by everyday economic and competitive realities to seek alternatives to their current manufacturing processes. The reality that forgings can be used for more than simple parts (and forged at very large dimensions) is slowly being realized. Companies who are looking for a better competitive advantage have started seeking the help of forging facilities with the metallurgical know-how to deliver improved products, processes and, especially, costs. If you or your company has design control and you are currently using a casting or fabrication for a high-wear or critical component, you are a perfect candidate. However, you must be willing to put resources toward truly finding a new solution. Additionally, your metalworking partner must have the metallurgical and forging knowledge necessary to work closely with your engineering department.

When can a casting or fabrication be converted into a forging?

Forgings cannot replace 100% of the steel castings currently or conceivably in the world. Reality is, not every opportunity will result in a conversion. In some situations, castings or fabrications are the best solution. For those reasons, at Scot Forge, conversions are handled on a case-by-case basis. Many factors are considered, including the ability to redesign a product as well as the design requirements (typically shape). Oftentimes, securing engineering’s approval is the key to making an individual conversion actually happen. When reviewing your component, it is helpful to take a step back and ask, “What is the purpose of my design?” Don’t get stuck with a historical design that doesn’t take advantage of today’s technological advancements. The best results occur if you’re willing to think creatively and challenge traditional methods.

What should you expect in a casting conversion?

Usually, forgings target a lower total cost when compared to a casting or fabrication. When you consider all the costs that are involved in a product’s lifecycle from procurement to lead time to rework, then factor in the costs of scrap, downtime and further quality issues, the long-term benefits of forgings far outweigh the short-term cost-savings that castings or fabrications might offer. Working closely with your forging partner, you should develop a project statement at the beginning of your conversion project which outlines all your related issues. By the end of your discussions, your forging facility should be able to provide a solution that best addresses the problems.

Reasons to make Scot Forge your forging partner for casting and fabrication conversion work:

Scot Forge brings the knowledge of engineers, metallurgists and forging experts to work in collaboration with your internal team, helping you to achieve long-term cost reductions and improved lead times through:

  • Evaluation of your manufacturing supply chain
  • Optimizing your manufacturing practices
  • Acquiring near net shape parts not previously available
  • Customizing materials for your application
  • Achieving component reduction
  • Improving part quality and metal integrity
  • Eliminating unnecessary processing
  • Designing parts to take advantage of forging as a superior replacement to alternate metalworking processes

More than anything else, our customers ask that their engineers be educated about conversions, about forgings, and about the newly expanded range of product types (complex parts) that can be produced as a forging. Rather than dismissing the idea as impractical or impossible, call on us to help enlighten you and your team of the technical and/or economic merits of any particular conversion project. We will devote as many resources as needed to provide a thorough review and subsequent proposed solution to your casting or fabrication problems. Collaborating closely with customers, we have a history of success for converting castings and fabrications into forgings and are a recognized leader in providing forged solutions for complex, intricate shapes.

Examples of recent conversion successes:

Construction equipment manufacturer

A customer’s product had a long history of issues due to poor casting quality. Working with Scot Forge, they were able to transition the casting to a forging which removed all re-work and weld repair from their process and allowed them to provide a better component to their customer. This saved an average of seven (7) processing hours per piece.

Defense contractor

Scot Forge collaborated with a customer to convert a 22 piece fabrication into a two (2) piece forging design, saving over 500 hours in welding costs per unit.

Mining equipment manufacturer

Our customer’s casting supplier was not able to meet their production demand, resulting in a potential loss of a significant amount business. Scot Forge was able to provide a solution that met the customer’s demand and delivery requirements at a lower total cost than the casting, saving money and defending business.

More examples are described in the cases below.

Product/application

Rotor arm

Material

Alloy Steel

Previous processing problems

The previous process was a casting.

  • The cast part, because of its lack of directional grain flow, did not have the required strength for the demanding application.
  • Due to the lack of strength, part failures were occurring in the field, and the part had a short life span.
  • Costly repairs and maintenance were necessary because of the frequent failures.

Forging as the solution

Today the part is forged as a one-piece forging.

  • Forging provides a continuous grain flow which ensures high strength, integrity, and longevity.
  • The improved strength has minimized part failures, as well as the need for repair and maintenance.
Rotator arm

Product/application

Centrifuge bowl

Material

Stainless Steel

Previous processing problems

The part was previously centrifugally cast.

  • The customer required a stronger, more resilient centrifuge able to withstand heavy wear and tear, so production could be increased.
  • To manufacture a stronger centrifuge as a centrifugal casting, the RPMs would have to be increased, and the higher loading would have exceeded the attainable properties of the material.
  • The centrifugal casting tooling charge and process costs were expensive, and a stronger centrifuge required a more costly material.

Forging as the solution

Today the part is manufactured as a near net forging.

  • Forging permitted the design change to a stronger centrifuge, while maintaining the customer's original alloy choice.
  • The ability to handle increased service requirements due to a stronger centrifuge allowed the customer to increase production by 15%.
  • The forging cost for the improved centrifuge was 24% lower than the original centrifugal casting.
Centrifuge bowl

Product/application

Hub for a steel mill rolling application

Material

Alloy Steel

Previous processing problems

The part was originally a casting.

  • Casting failed to meet critical surface requirements, resulting in scrapped parts.
  • At times, inclusions were not found until after extensive finish machining.

Forging as the solution

Today the part is produced by forging.

  • The hub is now produced by forging and torch cutting.
  • The part has higher strength and structural integrity due to forging's continuous grain flow.
  • The use of cleaner, forging-quality material eliminated surface quality problems and rejections.
Steel mill