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Aluminum Forging Basics

As the most widely used non-ferrous metals, the output of aluminum and aluminum alloys is second only to steel. In terms of the amount of deposits in the earthcrust, aluminum accounts for about 8.13% of the quality of the earthcrust, which is more than double the amount of iron and more than the sum of other non-ferrous metals. The density of aluminum alloy is only one third of that of steel (the density of aluminum alloy is 2.7g/cm3 while the steel is 7.85g/cm3), thus aluminum alloy is a perfect lightweight material. It is suitable for critical load-bearing workpieces with lightweight owing to its great strength and stiffness as well as high fatigue strength. Aluminum alloy has significant plasticity and can be processed into various high-precision forgings with complex shapes. Aluminum forgings have characteristics of corrosion resistance, thermal conductivity and non-magnetic, which is more superior than steel forgings.

Aluminum forgings have been widely used in various fields such as machinery, aviation, automobiles, railway vehicles, ships ,marine vessles, buildings, bridges, chemicals, and power owing to their excellent properties .

By replacing steel forgings with aluminum forgings, it can greatly reduce the weight of mechanical products and increase the structural stability. Therefore, aluminum forgings are essential components in the fields of aviation, aerospace and many defense industry sectors. For example, there are many aluminum forgings used in aircrafts ,which accounts for 15% -50%.

Aluminum Forgings Represent a Future Trend in the International Community.
Automobile giants in Europe, America and Japan have invested a lot of manpower and financial resources to lower the weight of cars and use aluminum alloys rather than steel to produce forging parts since the weight reduction of automobiles is of great significance (reducing fuel consumption and environmental pollution). For example, the automobile companies of Japan spend a large amount of manpower and material resources in researching and developing aluminum alloy. In 2009, the output of Japan ’s aluminum forgings was 30459t, accounting for 2.7% of the total closed die forgings. The strategy report of Honda Motor Corporation in October 2004  stated that 200kg aluminum alloy parts were used in each car (about 20% of the total weight of the car), of which 40kg are aluminum forgings.

As a trend in international community, most aluminum forgings are used in automobile axles and chassis components, such as aluminum alloy wheels and aluminum control arms. According to related statistics, the proportion of aluminum forgings in the world's total forgings increased from 0.5% in 1985 to 15% in 2002. With the development of energy saving and environmental protection, aluminum forgings will certainly have a greater space for development in the future.

In recent years, aluminum forgings for automobiles have experienced a period of fast development. Due to global warming and energy constraints as well as consumers' demand of comfortable rides and flexible handling, which pose severe challenges to the automotive industry and accelerate the lightweight development of the automotive industry (The weight of the car is reduced by 10% while the fuel consumption can be reduced by 8% to 10%.). According to related statistics, the use of aluminum alloys (forgings, stampings) per car in the United States reaches 36.3%, and in Europe and Japan, it exceeds 15% of its own weight, while in China, it is less. Some automotive experts predict that more and more aluminum alloy forgings will replace steel forgings in the future. What’s more, the lightweight of high-speed trains has also prompted the use of aluminum alloy parts. For example, CFS Forge have produced 7075 high-strength aluminum forgings of high-strength train .

Forgeability of Aluminum Alloy

(1) Definition of forgeability of aluminum alloy.
Forgeability (flowability) of aluminum alloy refers to the ability of aluminum alloy to fill the mold groove under the external force. High forgeability means the better performance of the blank to fill the mold groove.

(2)The key performance index of forgeability
Generally, forgeability is measured by the plasticity and deformation resistance of metals. The higher the plasticity, the smaller the deformation resistance and the better the forgeability. Forgeability depends on the intrinsic quality of aluminum alloy (plasticity and strength limits) and processing conditions. Forgeability is a process performance index that measures how easy it is for a metal to obtain excellent parts through plastic peocessing.

Forgeability characteristics of aluminum alloy

The forgeability characteristics of aluminum alloys refers to the forgeability comparison between the carbon steel and low-alloy structural steel.

(1) Characteristics of high temperature deformation resistance of aluminum alloy.

① The high temperature deformation resistance of various aluminum alloys varies greatly. Deformation resistance (also called flow stress) of aluminum alloys changes greatly with different compositions. Some parts of low and medium strength aluminum alloys, such as 6000 series aluminum alloys, have lower deformation resistance at high temperatures, while high-strength aluminum alloys, especially ai-zn -mg-cu aluminum alloy, such as 7000 series aluminum alloy, has higher resistance to high temperature deformation.

For example, the strength limit of forged 6061 aluminum alloy is 20mpa when the temperature is at 500 degrees Celsius, while the strength limit of hard aluminum alloy is 40mpa, the later is twice as the former, that is, the required forging deformation load is about 2 times different.

② Under the condition of room temperature, most commonly used deformed aluminum alloys have lower deformation resistance than carbon steel, but there are three types of deformation resistance at high temperature: lower than carbon steel, equivalent to carbon steel, and higher than carbon steel.

③Aluminum alloy deformation resistance is very sensitive to temperature (it changes rapidly with increasing or decreasing temperature). As temperature decreases, its resistance to high temperature deformation increases rapidly, which is faster than carbon steel. It can be seen that the limit growth rate of high temperature strength is faster than that of carbon steel. Its strength limit increases by about 50% when the temperature of carbon steel and low alloy structural steel decreases by 100 degrees Celsius. While the strength limit increases by 50% to 300% when the temperature of aluminum alloys decreases by 50 degrees Celsius. Therefore, aluminum alloys, especially aluminum alloys with a high degree of alloying, cannot be forged at low temperatures. So the forging temperature range of aluminum alloys is narrow and the operation should be conducted rapidly. The deformation resistance of aluminum alloy die forging determines its material strength limit, processing conditions and the complexity of the forging.

(2) Plastic characteristics of aluminum alloy

Plasticity refers to the ability of a metal material to deform without damaging its integrity under the condition of external force. The plasticity of aluminum alloy during die forging determines its plasticity and processing conditions. The coefficient of friction between the aluminum alloy and the surface of the mold is three times that of steel while the flow rate is only half that of steel. It means it has strong adhesion, poor fluidity and poor plasticity .

In summary, there will be a growing demand of aluminum forgings. In CFS Drop Forging Company, we are able to customize forged aluminum parts for different industries. Any inquiry on aluminum forging blanks, anodized aluminum forgings or machined aluminum forgings, pls do not hesistate to contact us!

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