What is Metal Forming?

Metal forming is an essential manufacturing process in the large-scale production of structural parts and components. Most metal products produced through metal forming have applications across a wide range of industries, such as aerospace, automobile, and domestic appliances.

Below, we’ll delve into the question “what is metal forming?” and supply additional information about the different metal forming processes used in various manufacturing settings.

What is Metal Forming?

The Basics

Metal forming is one of the most important processes used in today’s manufacturing sector. It is an umbrella term used to describe several techniques that introduce plastic deformations in metals. Manufacturers use these metal forming techniques to shape the metal into its desired conformation and size or obtain various physical or chemical properties.

Metal Forming

Plastic deformation is introduced to a material when the force applied is greater than its yield strength. By definition, an object’s yield strength is the maximum stress it can endure before it deforms permanently.

Knowledge of a material’s yield strength is crucial in controlling production techniques in metal forming as varying degrees of stress are applied to obtain the desired part or shape.

Metal Forming Processes

Production materials are subjected to different forces (tensile, compressive, bending, etc.) to create the desired parts in metal forming. These forces are applied through different forming processes to mass-produce metallic parts. These include:

Roll Forming

In roll forming, metallic materials of production continuously pass through a series of rollers. Metal sheets or strips are gradually formed and bent as they pass through the roller sets in order to achieve the desired cross-sectional shape. This process is used to produce components with long lengths and varying cross-sections.

Examples of Metal Products:

  • Construction Equipment
  • Door Component
  • Elevators
  • Framing
  • HVAC
  • Ladders
  • Mounts
  • Railings
  • Ships
  • Structural Components
  • Tracks
  • Trains
  • Tubing
  • Windows


Extrusion involves passing a metal (cold or hot) through a die to form hollow cross-sectional shapes. As the metal passes through the extruder, the machine applies compressive and shearing stress to develop the material (known as the extrudate) and create the desired shape.

Examples of Metal Products:

  • Aluminum Cans
  • Bars
  • Cylinders
  • Electrodes
  • Fittings
  • Frames
  • Fuel Supply Lines
  • Injection Tech
  • Rails
  • Rods
  • Structural Components
  • Tracks
  • Tubing

Press Braking

In press braking (also known as brake forming), a metal sheet or plate metal is aligned along an axis using a press brake. Then, the metal sheet is clamped between a punch and a die to achieve a prearranged shape.

Examples of Metal Products:

  • Decorative or Functional Trim
  • Electronics Enclosures
  • Housings
  • Safety Features


Metal stamping is a collection of techniques used to shape metal sheets. Also known as pressing, metal sheets are shaped into the desired configuration through the action of a die surface and a pressing tool inside the stamping press. Other stamping techniques include:

  • Punching
  • Blanking
  • Coining
  • Embossing
  • Flanging

Examples of Metal Products:

  • Aircraft Components
  • Ammunitions
  • Appliances
  • Blanking
  • Electronics
  • Engines
  • Gears
  • Hardware
  • Lawn Care
  • Lighting
  • Lock Hardware
  • Power Tools
  • Progressive Die Stamping
  • Telecom Products


Metal forging is a process that involves using compressive forces to form and shape metals inside a forge delivered through pressing, rolling, or hammering. Forging processes can either be cold, warm, or hot, depending on the material’s physical or chemical properties and desired properties.

Examples of Metal Products:

  • Axle Beams
  • Ball Joints
  • Couplings
  • Drill Bits
  • Flanges
  • Gears
  • Hooks
  • Kingpins
  • Landing Gear
  • Missiles
  • Shafts
  • Sockets
  • Steering Arms
  • Valves


Casting deals with molten metals being poured into an empty space known as a mold or cast. The molten material cools down and solidifies after a certain amount of time, bearing the form and shape of the mold. Casting is one of the least expensive metal forming processes and is often used in the production of components with complex configurations, such as foot pedals, alignment casings, and mounting plates.

Examples of Metal Products:

  • Appliances
  • Artillery
  • Art items
  • Camera Bodies
  • Casings, Covers
  • Diffusers
  • Heavy Equipment
  • Motors
  • Prototyping
  • Tooling
  • Valves
  • Wheels

Common Metals Used in Metal Forming Processes

Metal forming processes leverage certain metals’ chemical and mechanical properties to create products and components suited for different industries. Although specific metals are used for specific applications, such as tungsten, titanium, and nickel, the following are the most widely used across all processes for various industries:

  • Steel. This iron and carbon alloy is the most common metal used for metal forming. It is a versatile material, capable of being welded and formed in different ways, although it’s less ductile and harder to cut. Nevertheless, fabricators use steel because it is relatively less expensive to form.
  • Carbon Steel. Carbon steel is a steel alloy that is famed for its strength and durability. Its mechanical properties depend on the percentage of carbon present in the metal. As the percentage of carbon increases, its strength increases, making it harder to form.
  • Stainless Steel. Also a steel alloy, stainless steel is popular because of its chromium content, which makes it corrosion-resistant. It is a fairly easy material to work with because of its malleability and is widely used in cookware, decorative steel pieces, and medical instruments, among many others.
  • Aluminum. Aluminum is a lightweight material widely recognized for its high strength-to-weight ratio. It is a popular, more expensive alternative to steel, used in applications where very cold temperatures are expected, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units and airplane parts. It responds well to machining and has high tensile strength, resistance to corrosion, and thermal and electrical conductivity, making it one of the most versatile metals in metal forming.
  • Copper. Although less commonly used, copper is still a go-to material for metal-forming processes because of its high ductility and malleability, making it easy to work with in some metal-forming techniques. It has high thermal and electrical conductivity, making it an excellent material for fixtures, electronics, and cooking equipment.
  • Brass. An alloy of zinc and copper, brass is known for its strong acoustic properties, making it a popular material for musical instruments. It can also be used in other items, such as nuts, bolts, doorknobs, and pipes.

A Trusted Name

Quick-Way Manufacturing has been a leading provider and trusted contract manufacturer of metal forming products since 1961. For over 60 years, industry leaders have trusted our wealth of experience and expertise in delivering metal products with unmatched quality and reliability. Contact us today for state-of-the-art metal forming solutions that will fulfill your requirements and meet even the most demanding manufacturing needs.

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