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A Brief History of Forging

CanForge has been operating as a custom forging producer for more than 100 years. Since 1912, we have been evolving alongside the industry to better meet the needs of our customers.

Forging is the oldest metalworking method in human history. And while the basic concept of it hasn’t changed in thousands of years, forging techniques have significantly enhanced over time.

This blog will trace its origins from Ancient Egypt through the blacksmithing of the pre-industrial period into the high-tech forging of today.Mummified Pharaoh

 The Birth of the Forging Process

The forging process dates back thousands of years, with one of the first known instances taking place in Egypt around 1350 BC. It was around this time that humankind began to learn certain metals like gold, silver and copper, could be heated at high temperatures and molded into various shapes.

At the beginning, the forging process was quite simple. Small rocks were used as hammers to hit the hot metal against a giant rock until you reached the desired shape. But as humans learned more about the process, forging materials and its practice became more refined.

19th Century Forging

In the 19th century, forge-smiths became particularly skilled at hand and open die forging of wrought iron. Since the wrought iron could only be formed in high heat, the smiths became skillful in hammer welding and many large shaft forgings, weighing 10 tons or more, were built by this process.

Years later, the first steam-powered engine was invented. This had a significant impact on the expansion of the forging industry as the power supplied by the engine allowed for steam and air hammers to be used virtually anywhere.

The final noteworthy development to take place in the 19th century, was the ability to produce cheap steel on a large scale. Due to the increasing demands of steel, Great Britain created crude iron. The iron was comprised of a high amount of carbon at a fraction of the cost, which prompted the forging material to become a popular choice, especially in construction.

20th Century Forging

During this era, the automotive, aviation and aerospace industries were rapidly evolving, forcing the forging industry to progress alongside with them. This was particularly true for aerospace applications, where new specialized alloys were created to meet the industry’s demanding requirements.

Up until the 20th century, forging processes had never been examined at a micro level. This left many questions about the process unanswered. In hopes of answering these questions, metallurgists and forging engineers joined forces. This led to a deeper understanding of the processes various elements like how long to heat a piece of metal and what temperature best ensures its durability.

This time period also brought the widespread availability of electricity, which led to the invention of electric-powered furnaces. These greatly impacted the forging industry as they allowed for the precise heating of metals.

Modern Day Forging

Now that we’ve examined the core developments in this trade’s history, we can begin to look at modern day forging.

At the beginning of the 21st century, advancements in technology, machinery and metallurgy led to an increase in forging productions.

Today, we have computer-controlled hydraulics and air-powered hammers that allow forging engineers to make a variety of components for countless industries with a new level of control and efficiency.

The future of forging

Although it’s unclear what forging will look like hundreds of years from now, CanForge’s dedication to producing high quality specialty forgings for diverse sectors of the US and Canadian markets will always remain at the forefront of our business. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you, or easily request a quote using our streamlined online form here!


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