Metal Forming Processes: Techniques, Industries, & Uses

09 Jan.,2023


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6 Common Metal Forming Processes

The type of metal forming process you choose will depend on the type of metal you use, what you're creating, and how it will be used. Some of the most common types of metal forming techniques are:

  1. Roll forming
  2. Extrusion
  3. Press braking
  4. Stamping
  5. Forging
  6. Casting

Read on to learn more about these processes:

Metal forming processes are an essential part of our society, and without them, our society would come to a grinding halt.

The products and components created by the different metal shaping processes are used in creating everything from scaffolding and heavy machinery to designing and creating microprocessors and artificial intelligence. 

Have you ever wondered how metal is made? When it comes to metal forming, there are several manufacturing processes to choose from, each offering its own list of benefits and detriments, each suited to specific applications, and each suited for different types of metal.

Some of the most common types of metal forming techniques are:

  1. Roll forming
  2. Extrusion
  3. Press braking
  4. Stamping
  5. Forging
  6. Casting

Let's explore some of the common applications each type of forming is used for and some of the industries that use each type.

1.  Roll Forming

In short, roll forming involves continually feeding a long strip of metal through drum rollers to attain the desired cross-section.

Roll forming services:

  • Allow for advanced inline addition of punched features and embossings
  • Are best suited for large volumes
  • Yield complex profiles with intricate bending
  • Have tight, repeatable tolerances
  • Have flexible dimensions
  • Create pieces that can be cut to any length
  • Require little tool maintenance
  • Are capable of forming high-strength metals
  • Permit ownership of tooling hardware
  • Reduce room for error
  • Create less scrap

    (Resource: Want to know if roll forming is right for you? Click below to learn more.)

Common Applications & Industries


  • Aerospace

  • Appliance

  • Automotive

  • Construction

  • Energy

  • Fenestration

  • HVAC

  • Metal Building Products

  • Solar

  • Tube & Pipe

Common Applications

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


2.  Extrusion

Extrusion is a metal forming process that forces metal through the die of the desired cross-section.

If you're thinking of pursuing extrusion metal forming, you should keep in mind that:

  1. Aluminum is primarily the extrusion of choice, though most other metals can be used
  2. Dies (aluminum) are relatively affordable
  3. Punching or embossing is done as a secondary operation
  4. It can produce hollow shapes without seam welding
  5. It can produce complex cross-sections

Common Applications & Industries


  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Consumer Goods Manufacturing
  • Electronics Manufacturing
  • Hospitality
  • Industrial Lighting
  • Military
  • Restaurant or Food Service
  • Shipping & Transportation

Common Applications

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

3.  Press Braking

Press braking involves common sheet metal forming (usually), bending the metal workpiece to a predetermined angle by pinching it between a punch and a die.

If you're interested in press braking, be aware that it:

  1. Works best for shorter, smaller runs
  2. Produces shorter parts
  3. Is best suited for compatible shapes with more simple bend patterns
  4. Has a high associated labor cost
  5. Produces less residual stress than roll forming

Common Applications & Industries


  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Electronics Manufacturing
  • Industrial Manufacturing

Common Applications

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

4.  Stamping

Stamping involves placing a flat metal sheet (or coil) into a stamping press, where a tool and die apply pressure to form the metal into a new shape or cut out a piece of the metal.

Stamping is associated with:

  1. Single-press stroke forming
  2. Consistent pieces with fixed dimensions
  3. Shorter parts
  4. Higher volumes
  5. Creating complex parts in a short amount of time
  6. Requiring high-tonnage presses

Common Applications & Industries


  • Appliances Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Electrical Manufacturing
  • Hardware Manufacturing
  • Fastenings Manufacturing

Common Applications

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

5.  Forging

Forging involves shaping metals using localized, compressive forces after heating the metal to a point where it's malleable. 

If you're considering forging, keep in mind that:

  1. Precision forging combines production and manufacturing by forming the raw material into the desired shape, with the lowest possible amount of secondary operations needed
  2. It requires little to no subsequent fabrications
  3. It requires high tonnage presses
  4. It yields a stronger end product
  5. It results in a product with high strength and hardness

Common Applications & Industries


  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Power Generation & Transmission


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

6.  Casting

Casting is a process that involves pouring liquid metal into a mold containing a hollow cavity of the desired shape. 

Those considering utilizing a casting metal forming process should keep in mind that it:

  1. Can use a wide range of alloys & custom alloys
  2. Results in affordable short-run tooling
  3. Can result in products with high porosity
  4. Is best suited for smaller runs
  5. Can create complex parts

Common Applications & Industries


  • Alternative Energy
  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Culinary
  • Defense & Military
  • Health Care
  • Mining
  • Paper Manufacturing

Common Applications

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

Choosing A Metal Forming Technique

Are you looking for a metal former for your project? The type of metal forming process you choose will depend on many factors: What metal are you using? What's your budget? What do you need to create, and how will it be used?

Each metal forming technology has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Each is better suited for different metal types and applications. 

Wondering if roll forming might be the way to go?

Submit a drawing and we'll help you evaluate if roll forming is for you:


(Editor's Note: This article was originally published in January 2017 and was recently updated.)