The development of forging throughout history

At ULMA Forged Solutions, the forging process forms a large part of our raison d’être in the industry of manufacturing flanges and forged components for OEMs. Our high performance and quality assurance on every part we forge have led us to be an industry leader. Today, we want to go back to the beginnings of this age-old practice to detail how the forging process has evolved until today.

Forging is a process of shaping materials such as iron or steel through the application of high temperatures. The forging process is an extremely useful activity as it allows material to be given the desired shape while also improving its structure, in part because the process refines the material’s grain size. Forged materials not only have greater strength and ductility than cast materials, they also show greater resistance to fatigue and impact.

The history of the forging process

It is not known exactly when iron ore began to be smelted to produce usable metals. According to experts, the first tools used in this type of process date back to 3000 BCE. It is estimated that the Greeks knew about this technique as early as 1000 BCE, when they used heat treatment to harden their weapons.

The alloys produced by the early iron craftspeople would be equivalent to what is considered wrought iron today. These alloys were obtained by heating a mass of iron ore and wood charcoal in a furnace or a forge with a forced draft. The ore was reduced to a spongy mass of iron metal along with impurities and ash. The material was then removed while it was still glowing and was hit with heavy hammers to expel the impurities and to increase its cohesion.

On some occasions, this manufacturing technique accidentally produced steel instead of wrought iron. In time, iron craftspeople learned to make steel by heating wrought iron and charcoal in clay pots for several days, so that the iron could absorb enough carbon to become real steel.

In the 14th century, the sizes of the furnaces used for smelting began to be expanded, while the draft was increased to force the passage of combustion gases through the mixture of raw materials. In these furnaces, the iron ore from the top of the furnace was reduced to molten iron in order to absorb more carbon as the gases passed through it. The product that came out of this type of furnace was called pig iron, an alloy that melts at a lower temperature than steel and wrought iron. Pig iron was then refined for use in subsequent steel production.

Today, modern steel production uses blast furnaces that are essentially fully developed models of all those that came before. In addition, the process of refining pig iron by means of air jets was developed by the British inventor Henry Bessemer, who in 1855 developed the furnace that today bears his name.

Specialists in end-to-end manufacturing of high-specification flanges and forged components

At ULMA Forged Solutions, we cover the entire manufacturing process from raw material to final product. This is one of the critical factors that allows us to be competitive and meet the quality standards demanded by both the market and our customers. One of our main objectives is to optimize all of our processes, which is why we design and manufacture our own stamps for the different references that we forge.