Design considerations for forging | What to plan for in the design phase

 In Branding, custom metal forging, manufacturing capability, metal manufacturing

In the realm of manufacturing, forging stands as a time-honoured process, transforming raw steel into parts with superior strength and durability. However, the path from concept to finished product is riddled with numerous design considerations that can directly impact the quality, functionality, and cost-effectiveness of the end product.

Today we delve into the crucial aspects of forging design that every engineer and designer should be aware of. We will explore elements like material selection, part geometry, tolerances, and more.

Each of these factors plays a pivotal role in determining the success of a forging process, and a keen understanding of these considerations can lead to a more efficient manufacturing process and superior final products.

Material selection and properties

Material selection and properties are fundamental considerations in the design process for steel forging. Steel forging involves the use of pressure or impact to shape metal into the desired form. In this process, the internal grain structure of the steel is altered, leading to increased strength and structural integrity.

Material selection

Type of Steel: Different types of steel are suitable for different applications due to their unique mechanical and physical properties. For example, carbon steels are commonly used due to their high strength and toughness, while stainless steels are chosen for their corrosion resistance. Alloy steels, on the other hand, offer a blend of properties such as hardness, toughness, and resistance to wear and fatigue.

Availability: The availability of the steel type in the desired size and quantity is a crucial factor. Some steel grades may not be readily available or might be expensive to source.

Cost: The cost of materials is always a significant factor in any manufacturing process. It includes not only the initial cost of the steel but also the cost related to processing, such as heat treatment or machining.

Material properties

Mechanical Properties: The mechanical properties of the steel, such as tensile strength, yield strength, ductility, hardness, and impact resistance, are vital considerations. These properties will influence how the steel reacts to the forging process and the performance of the final product.

Thermal Properties: Steel’s response to heat is crucial during forging, which often requires heating the material to high temperatures. Important thermal properties include thermal conductivity and thermal expansion coefficient.

Chemical Properties: The chemical composition of the steel affects its behaviour during forging and its properties in the final product. Factors such as corrosion resistance, susceptibility to oxidation, and reactivity with other materials at elevated temperatures must be considered.

Forgeability: Forgeability refers to the ease with which a material can be forged without cracking or developing defects. It is influenced by various factors including ductility, strain hardening rate, and thermal properties.

Part geometry and draft angles

Part geometry determines the type of die to be used, the force required for forging, and the overall manufacturability of the part. On the other hand, a draft angle is a slight taper applied to the vertical surfaces of a forging, which facilitates the removal of the part from the die.

Part geometry

Complexity: Simple geometries are easier and cheaper to forge since they require less complex tooling and fewer forging steps. Complex geometries, on the other hand, may require multiple forging operations and more intricate die designs, increasing the overall cost and time of production.

Size: The size of the part influences the forging equipment needed. Larger parts require larger forging presses with greater force capabilities. It also affects the heating requirements as larger parts need more energy to reach the desired forging temperature.

Symmetry: Symmetrical parts are often easier to forge and may require fewer operations than asymmetrical ones. They also tend to minimise uneven cooling and related distortion issues.

Thickness: Uniform thickness is generally desirable in a forged part as it promotes even cooling and minimises warping and distortion. Sudden changes in thickness should be avoided as they can lead to defects such as laps and folds.

Draft Angles

Ease of Removal: A well-designed draft angle allows the forged part to be easily and cleanly extracted from the die, preventing damage to both the part and the die.

Minimising Defects: Proper draft angles can also minimise forging defects. If a part sticks in the die due to insufficient draft, it can lead to defects such as tears or deformation in the part.

Die Life: Draft angles can extend the life of the forging die. Without an adequate draft, the die may experience greater wear and tear, reducing its lifespan.

Draft Angle Size: The size of the draft angle depends on the depth of the die cavity and the material being forged. For steel forgings, draft angles typically range from 3 to 7 degrees. However, the exact angle will depend on the specific forging situation, including the complexity of the part and the type of die used.

Fillet and corner radii

A fillet radius is a rounded corner where two surfaces meet in a forging design. Similarly, corner radius is typically used to eliminate sharp corners on the exterior of a part. These parameters affect the flow of material, the strength and fatigue resistance of the final part, and the tool life of the forging dies.

Metal Flow: Properly sized fillets and corner radii can help facilitate better metal flow during the forging process, ensuring that the material fills the die cavities accurately and completely.

Stress Concentration: Sharp corners can lead to stress concentration, which can reduce the overall strength and fatigue resistance of the part. Fillet and corner radii help to distribute these stresses more evenly, enhancing the durability and life span of the forged part.

Die Life: Fillet and corner radii can also extend the life of the forging dies. Sharp corners in dies can lead to increased wear and potential cracking. By using rounded corners in the die design, the stress concentrations are reduced, leading to a longer die life.

Tolerances and allowances

Tolerance is the permissible limit or limits of variation in a physical dimension. It dictates how much the size of a part can deviate from the nominal or intended dimension. At the same time, allowances in forging refer to intentional deviations from the nominal dimensions to compensate for subsequent operations.


Functionality: Tolerances ensure the functionality and interchangeability of the parts. They ensure that the forged parts fit together properly with other components.

Cost: The level of tolerance directly influences the cost of forging. Stricter tolerances may require more precise tooling, more complex forging processes, or additional finishing operations, such as machining, all of which can increase costs.

Quality Control: Tolerances are used as a key parameter in quality control during the manufacturing process. Parts that are outside the specified tolerances are typically rejected or require rework.


Machining Allowance: Forged parts often undergo further machining to achieve the final dimensions and surface finish. A machining allowance is an extra material left on the surface of the part to ensure there is sufficient material to remove during the machining process.

Shrinkage Allowance: During the cooling process after forging, the part will contract. Shrinkage allowance is an intentional oversizing of the forging to compensate for this contraction.

Die Wear Allowance: Over time, forging dies to wear down, which can affect the dimensions of the parts they produce. A die wear allowance compensates for this effect by slightly oversizing the dimensions of the new die.

Draft Allowance: As discussed earlier, draft angles are incorporated into the forging design to facilitate part removal from the die. This leads to a slight increase in size, which must be taken into account in the part’s final dimensions.


Undercuts are indentations or recesses in the surface of a part, which extend under an overhanging part of the forging. They represent a unique challenge in forging for several reasons.

Complexity: Undercuts increase the complexity of the forging process, as they require additional operations or more complex dies to manufacture.

Tool Wear: Undercuts can lead to increased tool wear, especially if they are deep or sharp. This can reduce the life of the forging dies and increase the costs of the forging process.

Metal Flow: Undercuts can disrupt the flow of material during the forging process, which can lead to defects or incomplete filling of the die.

Part Removal: Undercuts can make it more difficult to remove the part from the die, potentially leading to damage to the part of the die.

Designing for undercuts in steel forging typically involves a balance between the functional requirements of the part and the realities of the forging process. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to perform additional machining operations after forging to create the undercut, rather than trying to forge the part with the undercut in place.

Choose a forging partner you can trust

At Greg Sewell Forgings we have 90 years of experience providing steel forging services in Australia. Our knowledge, expertise, and technology allow us to produce high-quality forged components for a variety of industries and purposes.

Discover our wide range of manufacturing capabilities, which include closed-die forging, upset forging, CNC machining, forged metal fabrication, and more. We even offer to design your forged components ourselves using our advanced CAD technology.

Contact us for any questions regarding our forging services and one of our friendly team members will promptly assist you.

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