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Paper Ref: S2501_P0271

3rd International Conference on Integrity, Reliability and Failure, Porto/Portugal, 20-24 July 2009

OPTIMAL SHAPES IN MULTI-STAGE HOT FORGING PROCESSES

Catarina F. Castro, Carlos C. António, Luísa C. Sousa


IDMEC, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto,
Rua Dr. Roberto Frias s/n, 4200-465 PORTO, Portugal
Email: ccastro@fe.up.pt

SYNOPSIS
The main purpose of this work is to control uncertainties during the forming process. Initial
temperature of the billet, friction between dies and billet and variations in the forging set up
together with cooling rate are the main factors affecting the final part dimensions.
Considering friction and die stroke length to be random variables, an attempt is made to
analyze the output data based on a large number of sets acquired with a finite element analysis
computer model. The analysis of uncertainties associated to optimal multi-stage hot forging
will drive to the robust design of forging process parameters.

INTRODUCTION
Multi-stage hot forging is a plastic deformation process in which a simple shaped hot billet is
transformed through a number of stages to a predetermined shape using dies and compressive
forces.
Many complex industrial components, as well as many consumer goods, are produced
through forging processes. In the last years the competitive global market of the forging
industry has placed a considerable pressure on the manufacturers to reduce the overall
production costs. Production cost is highly dependent on development time, tool/die life,
required energy, waste material and rejected parts. The traditional design forging processes is
most of the times a trial and error process using as first approach the experience and empirical
knowledge of the designer. The resulting piece is then tested for its properties and eventually
redesigned if necessary. This might be time consuming increasing the final production cost.
Forging is a complex nonlinear process and simulation based on the finite element method has
been an ongoing research field on metal forming. Variations in billet geometry, billet/die
temperatures, material properties, and positional forging equipment are some of the
manufacturing issues that simulation and optimization methods consider.
Shape optimal design is a mathematically inverse problem. Considering a reasonable number
of process design variables, this inverse problem can be formulated as an optimization
problem where the objective is to minimize the gap between the forged piece and the desired
one. Well-known associated constraints are production costs and energy consumption.
Extensive research has been done to study forging design including flash reduction, die
design, energy conservation, lubricant design and heat treatment of a forged component.
Optimal forging design considering geometric and material properties of cold and hot
operations have been presented in the literature (e.g. Bakhshi-Jooybari et al. 2002, Xinhai et
al. 2002, Castro et al. 2004, Zhao et al. 2004, António et al. 2005).
The objective of this ongoing research is to quantify the uncertainties of the forging process
due to various factors such as press accuracy, initial billet temperature, cooling rate, etc.,
during the forging process. These conditions are the uncertainties during the process and their

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quantification would aid the designer in developing a more robust forging process design,
thus improving productivity and reducing production cost.

HOT FORGING OPTIMIZATION


In forging, the elastic deformation is usually omitted because it is very small when compared
to the plastic deformation. Therefore rigid plastic/viscoplastic FEM is often used to analyze
the forming process. Mechanical properties of metals are temperature dependent. Metal
forming processes are characterized by considerable temperature changes since large plastic
strains lead to heat generation. During hot forging processes cooling of the surfaces
contacting the surroundings takes place. So considering a coupled thermo-plastic process is
necessary. A previously developed finite element code based on the rigid viscoplastic finite
element method with an updated Lagrangian formulation has proven to be robust and
efficient for numerical simulations of forging processes under different geometric and process
input parameters (Castro et al., 2004, António et al., 2005).
In a multistage forging process different preform die shapes generate different final forging
shapes. The only information known beforehand is the final product shape and material.
Therefore, the following inverse problem can be proposed: find the intermediate tool
geometries and temperature conditions that will lead to the optimal forged piece. This inverse
problem is an optimization problem with an objective function measuring several parameters
of the process such as the total energy and the distance between the current shape at the end of
the process and the prescribed shape.
The optimization problem to be solved searches the vector of design variables
b = {b1 ,L ,bD }∈ R D that minimizes the objective functional as follows

Minimize Π (b) = β1 ϕe (b) + β 2 ϕd (b) (1)


over b
subject to
Tend (b)
≤1 (2)
Ta
b ≤ bd ≤ b d = 1,L , D (3)
d− d+

and to the thermal-mechanical problem. The number of design variables is D and b ,b


d− d+
are the side constraints for each variable. The account for die under-fill and unwanted flash is
given by a measure of the distance between the current shape at the end of the process and the
prescribed shape as
2
ϕd (b) = ∫ π ( X) − X(b) dS (4)
Γend

where π ( X) is the projection of a material point X of the work-piece boundary Γend onto
the surface of the prescribed shape at the end of the simulation process. The total energy is a
measure of the actual cost of the process and can be given by

ϕe (b) = ∫
t
0 ( ∫Γ )
t. v dS dt (5)

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where t is the applied traction vector and v the die velocity. The parameters β i are to be
considered as weighting parameters, Ta is the maximum allowed temperature and Tend is the
maximum temperature registered in the work-piece along the forging process.
The optimization methodology considers an evolutionary algorithm. A Genetic Algorithm
(GA) is a stochastic search method based on evolution and genetics exploiting the concept of
survival of the fittest. For a given problem or design domain there exists a multitude of
possible solutions that form a solution space. In a GA, a highly effective search of the solution
space is performed, allowing a population of strings representing possible solutions to evolve
through basic genetic operators. The goal of the genetic operators of the algorithm is to
progressively reduce the space design driving the process into more promising regions. Based
on four operators supported by an elitist strategy that always preserves a core of best
individuals of the population whose genetic material is transferred into the next generations, a
new population of solutions P t +1 is generated from the previous P t using the genetic
operators: Selection, Crossover, Elimination/Substitution and Mutation. Details on the applied
finite element simulation and on the considered optimization methodology are given in Castro
et al. (2004) and António et al. (2005).

DESIGN EXAMPLE
The goal is to design a preform die shape managing to produce in a two-stage hot forging
process a flashless cross-sectional H-shaped axisymmetric piece with complete die fill.
The initial billet is a cylinder of 25 mm diameter by 20 mm height made of AISI 1018 steel.
The simulation considers only one quarter of the process, taking advantage of symmetry
conditions. The two-dimensional computer program (Castro et al., 2004) models the geometry
of the work-piece and dies with a combination of four-node linear elements for the work-
piece and die and linear friction elements for the die/piece interface. The initial work-piece is
heated and both dies are considered at room temperature.
AISI 1018 is a high-manganese carbon alloy that offers better machinability than other lower
carbon steels. AISI 1018 also offers improved hardenability and strength in carburized and
uncarburized applications such as carburized components, machinery parts, wires, sprocket
and chain assemblies, explosive forming tools, dies, bolts and rods. Workability of AISI 1018
forge goes from 1255K to 1533K.
The material properties were modeled as temperature dependent so that the effect of the
temperature gradient on the yield stress is enforced throughout the solution. The temperature
dependent material constitutive relation (Doege et al., 1986, Alves et al., 2000) is given by

σ = 173.73 ε& 0.07 [MPa] T < 1143 K


σ = 108.93 ε& 0.152 [MPa] 1143 K < T < 1363 K (6)
σ = 75.83 ε&0.192 [MPa] T > 1363 K
The material properties of the work-piece for the thermal model, necessary for the calculation
of the heat transfer are shown in Table 1 where λT is the conductivity, ρ is the density, cT is
the specific heat supply, hlub is the lubricant heat transfer coefficient, hs is the surface heat
transfer coefficient and rad represents the radiation heat flow. The fraction of plastic work
transformed into heat is taken as kT = 90% . From experimental data and preliminary

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numerical runs a constant shear friction factor was selected as m = 0.8. Both dies are assumed
to be rigid with no internal heat generation with initial temperatures Tdie = 285 K .
Table 1. Material properties for the low-carbon steel AISI 1018

λT [ N / sK ] 0.0469 × T + 77.467
ρ cT [N/mm 2 K] 4 ×10−8 × T 3 − 6 ×10−5 × T 2 + 0.0344 × T − 2.3977
hlub [N/s mmK] 4.0
hs [N/s mmK] 0.00295
rad [N/m s K 4 ] 567.0 × 10−13 (1.0 × 10−7 × T 2 − 9.0 × 10−5 × T + 0.044)

Considering the shape of the preform die contact zone defined as a cubic B-spline curve, the
control points will determine the shape of the B-spline. The displacements of selected active
points of the B-spline become the geometric design parameters. Six control points were used
to define the B-spline curve representing the preform die shape ( Pi , i = 1,...,6 ) corresponding
to the first six components of the design vector b. The seventh component of the design
vector b is the initial temperature of the work-piece, T0 .
The optimal solution is shown in Figures 1 and 2 (António et al., 2005). The optimal design
vector is bT = [1.73, 0.93, − 0.66, 1.73, + 0.66, − 1.46, 1346.6] where the first six components
correspond to the displacements in mm of the B-spline control points deviating from the
highest value. The seventh component is the initial temperature of the work-piece,
Toptimal = 1347 K . After forging, the barreling effect is minimal and the die is completely
filled. The cross section of the resulting disk is almost rectangular so the optimized result is
very close to the desired shape. If all material outside the minimum radius were to be trimmed
away, this would account for material savings by using the optimized design.

1st Stage

Fig. 1 First stage of the optimized forging.

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2nd Stage

Fig. 2 Final stage of the optimized forging.

No violation of the temperature constraint was detected along the two-stage optimal forging.
Temperature distributions imposed and calculated at begin and end of each forging stage are
also reported in Figures 1 and 2. The highest temperature detected during forging is
Tmaximum = 1360 K at the end of the first forging stage. The temperature transfer between hot
work-piece and cold die is observable. Before forging the die temperature is assumed constant
and at room temperature Tdie = 285 K and according to the optimal solution the initial work-
piece temperature is Toptimal = 1347 K . After forging the highest achieved temperature in the
work-piece is Tmax = 1349 K at the equatorial plane and the lowest is Tmin = 820 K at the
die/work-piece contact area. The decrease in temperature is due to the heat transfer between
die and work-piece.

ANALYSIS OF THE PARAMETERS UNCERTAINTIES


In the field of metal forming, shapes of complex geometry are commonly produced by die
forging from billets of very simple initial geometry. In the process, the metal is forced to flow
into and acquire the shape of the surrounding die cavities. This process requires large forces
and imposes high stresses on the tools. In order to reduce the maximum loads, it is common
practice to through-heat the metal to temperatures above its recrystallization temperature so as
to soften the metal and decrease the material yield stress. Usually, one or more sets of preform
dies are usually designed and produced to complete the schedule to manufacture the final
product. However, the high stresses involved and the thermal increase tool wear with negative
effects on product quality and tool life. So the process set-up slightly degrades and the forged
part will consequently be different.
Plant conditions modeling would correspond to a very complex mathematical model. Many
different situations might happen during a forging operation making impossible to perform
the optimal operation. During temperature measurements, the actual temperature value
depends on the accuracy of the measuring equipment. This equipment has to be calibrated
before use, and to a large extent that depends on the operator’s skill. When the billets are
manually and repeatability placed in the dies, there is a certain degree of error adding to the
risks that could be coupled with the uncertainties in the manufacturing process product such
as, metal oxide formation on the work piece or dies with the consequent scaling effect, quality
and quantity of the lubricant sprayed manually and stroke length variation. Instead of

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modeling plant conditions, statistical data can be considered as modeling variations due to
human errors. Variability can be introduced in the optimal input parameters, such as,
variations on the die geometry and on the billet initial temperature and further variations can
be introduced on the friction coefficient and on the die stroke length.
In a previous study uncertainties were introduced in the optimal input parameters: the six
control points that define the optimal B-spline curve and the optimal initial temperature
(Castro et al., 2008). Uncertainties were allowed within a 5% variation for the spline
deviations and a 3% variation for the temperature. It was interesting to notice that a small 3%
variation in the input temperature induces a 4% variation on the maximum reached
temperature and a 20% variation on the forging energy. Observed temperatures were well
bellow the maximum allowable value Ta = 1450 K . Also, as expected, the highest the
temperature of the initial billet the lowest the forging required energy. Finally, it could be
concluded that a 5% variation on the design parameters induces a 5% amount of rejected
forged parts.
In the present study, uncertainties are introduced in other factors that may affect the quality of
the final product. Maintaining the optimal design parameters, the geometry of the first die and
the initial temperature of the work-piece, uncertainties will be introduced on two input
process parameters: the friction coefficient and the time length for the first die stroke. Output
results are analyzed using the two output parameters considered on the formulation of the
optimization problem: the calculated error of the final piece geometry and the required
process energy. Both parameters are important since errors on the final piece geometry will
determine if the piece is to be rejected and the required energy is directly related with forging
costs.
The developed finite element code considers friction between die and work-piece
characterized by an adhesive type law with a defined friction factor m varying from zero (no
friction) to one (sticking friction). The shear stress is assumed constant and equal to that of
the work-piece material, and the mean interfacial or frictional shear stress in then expressed as
Y
τf =m (7)
3
where Y is the temperature dependent yield stress.

0.63 46.8
0.62 Distance 46.6

0.61 Energy 46.4


46.2
Distance [mm^2]

0.6
Energy [Joules]

46
0.59
45.8
0.58
45.6
0.57
45.4
0.56 45.2
0.55 45
0.54 44.8
0.68 0.7 0.72 0.74 0.76 0.78 0.8 0.82
Friction coeficient

Fig. 3 Variation of distance and required energy versus friction factor.

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From experimental data and preliminary numerical runs the selected constant shear friction
factor for the optimization problem was m = 0.8. Now let us consider smaller friction values
running from 0.7 to 0.8 corresponding roughly to a 10% variation. The output simulated
results for distance and energy as given by Equations (4) and (5), respectively, are presented
in Figure 3. According to this picture the best results are obtained for high friction factors,
meaning that the forged piece geometry is close to the intended one when considering near
sticking boundaries. Nevertheless a further analysis on these results should be undertaken in
order to study how much of this variability is due to numerical uncertainties.

1.2 70

1.1 65

1 60
Distance [mm^2]

Energy [Joules]
0.9 55

0.8 50

0.7 45

0.6 40
distance
0.5 energy 35

0.4 30
0.08 0.1 0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.2
Time for stage 1 [seconds]

Fig. 4 Variation of distance and required energy versus time length for first die stroke.

In general, mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic presses are used in forging. These presses
have moving parts which are heavy and subjected to high temperatures. The high
temperatures together with vibrations generated by the ram and other driving components can
affect press settings, such as stroke length. The optimal geometry was obtained with a stroke
time of 0.15 seconds. The effects on the piece geometry and on the required energy due to
stroke time variation are reported in Figure 4, for a large variation between 0.10 and 0.19
seconds. This is considered as a very large variation for forging. It is seen that due to the
variation in the stroke, the geometric distance between forged piece and intended one
increases significantly. The same results are registered for the required energy. The stroke
time variation is the more sensitive of the two parameters. When complete die fill is achieved,
friction has a much smaller influence on the final part dimensions and for this example on the
required forging energy.

CONCLUSIONS
The results from this research help in understanding the variations in the final part due to
factors, such as, temperature of the billet before forging and die geometry variations in the
process set-up. Part rejection can be reduced by controlling the tolerance limit on the design
parameters. In cases where the cost of controlling the process parameters is high, the trade-off
between the number of parts that are acceptable as rejects and parts that need extra machining

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can be incorporated in the process design to determine the mean values of the design
parameters. This leads to improved quality and reduced production cost of hot forged parts.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors acknowledge FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal, for the
financial support through research unit UMNMEE (10/225).

REFERENCES
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transmissão, VI Congresso Nacional de Mecânica Aplicada e Computacional, Universidade
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