There is a high chance that specific shapes and mechanical properties are required when sourcing an alloy product for an industrial, medical, or consumer application. This is where cold working processes come in.
Cold work involves any metalworking process where the alloy is plastically deformed below its recrystallization temperature. Each alloy has a distinct recrystallization temperature, but for the purposes of this article, it is usually found at the halfway mark of the metal’s melting point.
From coining and roll forming to stamping, a successful cold working project results in a material with a high degree of dimensional and mechanical precision, as well as exceptional reproducibility and interchangeability.
When subject to deformation, several metals become harder due to activity at the atomic level. Work hardening occurs when metal is subjected to certain levels of stress and the atoms in its grains dislodge and “lock”. When this happens repeatedly, the metal becomes more resistant to further deformation as many of its atoms have locked into place. Therefore, the introduction of work, or energy, strengthens the material.
Occasionally, work hardening is accidental and undesired. However, it is typically the result of intentional activity, as strong materials are ideal in many scenarios. Consequently, cold working processes are frequently used throughout aerospace and automobile manufacturing and several other industries.