What started in a 20 x 20 garage has blossomed into one of the best businesses in the metal forging industry. Ken Forging has been in the business for over 45 years and we are proud to say that we are one of the leading manufacturers in the forging business. We are now in a much larger facility, 250,000 square feet to be exact with a 12,000 square foot packaging and shipping area.
Even though the demand for steel and other metal products is high right now, there is much less recent demand for forged metal products. The entire forging industry is going through a slump in 2012 and 2013, mainly due to increasing input costs and reduced demand overall.
In Plainfield Township, Michigan, there is a man named Tom Turtzo who has brought the ancient art of blacksmithing back to life. In 1977, he bought an old chicken farm that the previous owner, Harry Rupell, had transformed into a working blacksmith shop. Most of the tools in the shop were manufactured before 1920, and used ancient metal forging techniques to create a variety of products from iron and other metals. Tom Turtzo creates a variety of products using a mix of ancient and modern supplies and equipment. Most of the items that Tom Turtzo creates are decorative and useful household supplies. Along with traditional anvils and hammers, Tom Turtzo also uses propane-fueled forges, hydraulic air hammers, and other modern equipment to facilitate the process of creating ancient-style metal forgings.
When I think about metal forging, a variety of images come to mind. I think of old cartoons where giant men work with fire and metal to create swords, or scenes from movies about Excalibur’s creation. But I think one of the most popular references to metal forging in the last ten years is from the film Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr. In the scene where he’s imprisoned in a cave, Tony Stark (Downey’s character) creates a suit made of forged scrap metal. He accomplishes this task using the age-old method of heating metal in a fire and then pounding it with a hammer against an anvil until he gets it just right. Cut to minutes later in the film when we see the “Iron Man” for the first time. That first suit he creates in that cave is a marvel of metal forging.
Drop forging is different from other traditional forging methods. In traditional forging, a heavy object is used to pound or press the metal into the desired shape. In drop forging, the metal is heated and shaped by forcing it through a die mold. There are two kinds of drop forging, hot forging and cold forging. In hot forging, the metal is heated beyond the recystallization temperature of the metal. This allows work hardening to be prevented. In cold forging, the metal is below the recrystallization temperature of the metal. Cold forging will work harden the metal after forging.
The art of metal forging has been around for thousands of years. The process has been used for art and practical tools throughout history. Metal forging is the process of reshaping metals to produce specific shapes and sizes, while still in a solid form. To perfect metal forging, one must thoroughly understand the processes. The basics are easy to learn, but to produce the piece desired, perfect conditions must be created. Because of this ancient skill the human race has prospered. Therefore, these techniques have driven us into the Bronze Age and Iron Age and are still pushing us forward in the development of modern tools and parts. Today, these ancient forging processes are still used, but in a modern, more efficient way!