There are many factors to consider during a forging process, but one that is too often overlooked is die temperature. Unfortunately, die heating is often performed ineffectively or skipped altogether. A die that is not properly heated will crack and wear prematurely and could produce inferior forged parts. In addition to compromising the quality of work, dies that are not heated properly can have a detrimental impact on direct costs and productivity.
Die heaters are essential to a modern forge shop, and electric infrared is proving to be the gold standard. Studies have shown electric infrared heaters to be a more reliable and cost-effective method of die heating than gas or electric convection furnaces, direct gas flame, electric calrod radiant and gas radiant heating.
A significant benefit to using infrared technology is that it allows dies to be heated with uniformity. This is important because it prevents the creation of hot or cool spots, thus improving die performance and quality of work. Often, a cold die is placed in the hammer and a flame is used to preheat the die for a few hours before forging. This process alone is unreliable and can lead to uneven heat and a shorter die life due to cracks created by thermal shock.
Infrared heaters not only provide even preheating temperatures to dies, but their mobility allows them to heat a die in place which is essential for continuous uniform heat. Die impressions that are uniformly heated also allow easy application for die lubricant to a consistent depth.
Time is money, and one of the reasons more and more forge shops are looking into infrared heating solutions is their ability to rapidly heat a die to its ideal temperature in a fraction of the time that it takes conventional methods. With fast start-up times and temperature controls, electric infrared heaters are ready to go at the start of a shift.
It has been shown that furnaces for forging stock that would normally run at full capacity for an entire shift could be run at a lesser capacity, without affecting productivity, when electric infrared die heaters were used.
Additionally, the fast start-up and even heat of infrared die heaters decreases the amount of scrap that is produced at the start of forging and also leads to extended die life. Reducing the amount of time, material and energy that is expended per forged part leads to major cost savings when using electric infrared die heaters.