7 Questions to Ask a Potential Metal Forging Partner: A Checklist

When working with a metal forging company, knowing the right questions to ask can minimize confusion and make the procurement process simple. Assemblers and end product manufacturers might know their own components, but have very little familiarity with the production process for those components. With 100 years of experience, Anchor Harvey sets the industry standard for excellence in aluminum forging, delivering unmatched quality and precision in every component we produce. Our team places a great emphasis on the value of strong customer relationships and is committed to setting our partners up for success. This article provides a practical checklist for purchasers, managers, and designers, featuring key inquiries to guide your evaluation of potential forging partners. By focusing on these questions, we aim to help you find a forging partner that aligns with your standards for quality, efficiency, and mutual success.

1. What kind of services can you provide?

It is vital to establish what a metal forging company is capable of doing, either in-house or through a sub-contractor network. If the part to be made requires extremely precise tolerances (e.g. gas-tight housings), it is important to establish the kind of machining capabilities the forging company can provide. 

Anchor Harvey provides a full-service closed-die forging process that produces high-strength, lightweight parts that are suitable for a wide range of applications.

2. What can you do in-house? what is outsourced?

Minimizing cost and lead times are primary concerns for every organization with budgets, but not at the cost of product quality. A full-service shop that provides most processes in-house can promise better turnaround times without the added cost of paying for outsourcing.

Anchor Harvey keeps everything in-house from the initial forging to post-forge machining, heat treatment, and testing. This minimizes downtime during production, which ultimately lowers the price and gets the parts to the customer faster.

3. What materials do you work with?

Recent advancements in materials science, custom alloy design software, and precise control systems allow for the production of a near limitless variety of discrete materials to perfectly match the part's intended use-cases and potential environments. Steel, aluminum, and many other common metals are defined by different “series” which are grouped according to common alloying metals and differing ratios of each. Knowing what kind of metals and series that a metal forging company can work with is vital to choosing the right vendor.

Anchor Harvey is an aluminum forging company, specializing in several common series but with the capability to fabricate components out of almost any aluminum alloy series. Forged aluminum, with the right alloying materials, can be made to fit nearly any application, and Anchor Harvey parts can be found in all over the most high-performance sectors like defense and aerospace.

4. What kind of tolerances can you work with?

Every part has tolerances, which are simply the amount of “error” that a fabricator is allowed to make without compromising the performance of the final part. While it is not possible to make every part perfect to the desired dimensions, understanding process variation and process controls is key to producing parts suitable for High-performance environments – such as aerospace control systems – that naturally demand extremely tight tolerances. Understanding the capabilities that a metal forging company can meet will determine if they are a good vendor.

Anchor Harvey uses exclusively closed-die forges and hosts a machine shop in-house. Closed-die forging can hold tolerances that would be impossible in an open-die forge or via drop-forging, and any part with tolerances that cannot be met via forging alone can be refined during machining. With these capabilities, Anchor Harvey can offer the promise of consistently tight tolerances and high-quality products, making them a vendor of choice for any precision application.

5. What are your testing processes?

Every production process has the potential for faults. There are innumerable factors that determine the quality of a part once it exits the production line. Quality production lines can minimize the potential for faulty parts, but some pieces will inevitably be sub-par. To ensure that these failed parts do not end up in a shipment to the customer, a quality metal forging company will have a variety of testing methods and accompanying procedures. Various destructive and non-destructive testing processes can range from simple hardness tests and tensile strength tests to CMM (coordinate measuring machine), 3D scanning, ultrasounds, and even chemical exposure tests. A metal forging company that offers a variety of testing procedures can provide a more consistent product, and can ensure that those products are able to meet the performance standard required by the intended application.

Anchor Harvey offers a variety of in-house inspection processes, including CMM, hardness tests, 3D scanning, and penetrant testing. Through a network of test shops, Anchor Harvey can also access a huge variety of additional testing methods. With these, Anchor Harvey can guarantee the quality and consistent performance of every production run.

6. Can you provide timeline estimates?

No amount of quality part production will matter if the parts are not delivered on-time. Time to market is critical to ensuring the final potential of a new product, and delay by suppliers can complicate or ruin a release schedule. Any quality metal forging company will be able to provide at least rough timeline estimates for delivery. A metal forging company that provides confident and consistent estimates proves that they are experienced with their production line and know their supply chain well.

Anchor Harvey has many decades of experience in the forging business and curates a wide and deep network of vendors that allows them to provide consistent and confident delivery estimates. Alongside short lead times and fast shipping, Anchor Harvey can get parts to customers with minimal delay.

7. What support do you provide for reworking or replacement of defective parts?

If a customer receives bad parts or wants to rework parts without going through the design process again, a metal forging company that provides support for rework or replacement of parts in a timely manner will inevitably be a better partner.

With Anchor Harvey’s fast shipping methods, full-service shop, and guarantee of quality, they can provide generous support for reworking and replacing parts on short notice and in a timely fashion. Anchor Harvey supports its customers through the entire production process, from concept, to production, to delivery, and beyond. 

If you’re interested in working with a metal forging partner that has a proven track record, contact Anchor Harvey today!