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Steel Forging For Enhanced Aerospace Performance Is It Worth It?

by | Jun 8, 2023

Steel forging has been a tried and true method of manufacturing high-performance components for a range of industries for centuries. Its success lies in its ability to produce parts with exceptional strength and durability through the application of heat and pressure. 

Dating back to at least 4000 BC and earlier (1) steel forging has continued to advance ever since. In the aerospace industry, where safety and reliability are paramount, steel forging has become an essential technique for producing components that can withstand extreme conditions and stresses. Is it worth it? Well, we’ll find out more as we go on.

In this article, we will explore what steel is made of, its forming techniques, and some of its important properties. We’ll also delve into the application of metal forging to the aviation industry and also check out steel types. Finally, we’ll discuss how Valence’s metal finishes can help enhance aerospace performance and then, answer some frequently asked questions.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance, inquiries, or a quote regarding your steel finishing project. We are always here to help and would be delighted to hear from you.


What Is Steel Made Of?

Steel is a metal alloy composed primarily of iron, with small amounts of carbon and other elements added to give it specific properties. The carbon content of steel is between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Other alloying elements can also be present in trace amounts. Steel is an incredibly versatile and durable material, and its properties can be altered by changing the composition of its alloying elements.


What is Steel made of?

How Steel Is Made

The process of making steel is a complex one that involves several steps, starting with ironmaking and ending with the finishing and treating of the steel. 

The first step in steelmaking is ironmaking, which typically involves the use of a blast furnace to separate iron ore, coke, and limestone into molten iron known as pig iron. The pig iron is then refined in a steelmaking furnace to remove impurities and adjust its composition, with two main types of steelmaking processes being used, the basic oxygen furnace (BOF) and the electric arc furnace (EAF). 

Once the steel has been refined to the desired composition, it is cast into a variety of shapes and sizes, such as ingots, billets, or slabs, depending on the intended use. The cast steel is then heated and passed through a series of rollers to reduce its thickness and shape it into the desired form, such as sheets, bars, or pipes.

The final step in steelmaking involves finishing and treating the steel to improve its properties. This can involve heat treatment, such as annealing or quenching, to improve its strength and toughness, as well as surface treatment, such as pickling or coating, to improve its resistance to corrosion or wear.

Steel Process In Today’s Modern World

Steel manufacturing methods have progressed significantly since the late nineteenth century when industrial production began. Contemporary methods, however, still rely on the same premise as the original Bessemer Process, which employs oxygen to reduce the carbon content of iron. (2) 

This process, named after its inventor Sir Henry Bessemer involved blowing air through molten iron to remove impurities and create steel. It was a major breakthrough because it allowed for the large-scale production of high-quality steel.

Today, the Bessemer process has largely been replaced by more advanced steelmaking methods, such as the basic oxygen furnace (BOF) process and the electric arc furnace (EAF) process. However, the Bessemer process played a key role in the development of the modern steel industry and is considered an important milestone in the history of metallurgy.

Primary Steel Process

The primary steelmaking process involves the production of steel from raw materials such as iron ore, coal, and limestone. The Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) and the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) are the two basic steelmaking techniques.

The BOF (Basic Oxygen Furnace) process involves melting iron and steel scrap in a furnace, then blowing oxygen through the molten metal to reduce the carbon content to between 0-1.5%. (3)

The EAF (Electric Arc Furnace) process, on the other hand, uses scrap steel as its primary raw material. The scrap is melted in an electric arc furnace and then refined into high-quality steel. 

Secondary Steel Process

Secondary steelmaking combines the primary steelmaking processes to optimize the composition of the steel being produced. The process involves the addition of specific elements under controlled temperatures and environmental conditions to achieve the desired composition. 

Various techniques are employed to achieve this, including stirring, ladle refining, ladle injections, vacuum degassing, and CAS-OB (Composition Adjustment by Sealed Argon Bubbling with Oxygen Blowing). (4)

Steel Process Forming Techniques

Steel is a versatile and durable material that can be shaped and formed in many ways, depending on the desired final product. Here are some common steel forming techniques:

Forging is the process of heating and hammering steel into desired shapes. This technique is used for producing components that require high strength and durability. Forging also allows for the production of complex shapes that would be difficult to produce with other techniques.

Extrusion involves pushing a heated steel billet through a die to create a specific shape. This technique is commonly used for making pipes, tubing, and other cylindrical shapes.

Rolling process begins with a steel billet or slab, which is heated to a specific temperature to make it more malleable. The heated steel is then passed through a series of rollers, which progressively reduce the thickness of the steel and shape it into a flat sheet, long tube, or strip.

Machining is a versatile process that is used to create a wide range of steel shapes and sizes, including complex geometries that cannot be easily produced using other methods.

The machining process involves removing material from a workpiece using cutting tools such as drills, lathes, milling machines, and grinders. The cutting tool is moved across the surface of the workpiece, removing material in small chips until the desired shape and size are achieved.

Properties Of Steel

Steel is a widely used material in the world of engineering and construction due to its remarkable properties. This alloy of iron and carbon is known for its strength, durability, and versatility. From high-rise buildings to aircraft parts, steel can be found in a variety of applications. Its unique properties make it an essential material in the aerospace industry. Here are noteworthy properties of steel:


Hardness is an important property of steel, and it refers to the material’s ability to resist deformation, scratching, or penetration. The hardness of steel is typically measured using a standardized test such as the Brinell, Vickers, or Rockwell hardness tests.

The hardness of steel can vary depending on the composition of the alloy and the specific heat treatment used during production. Generally, steels with a higher carbon content are harder than those with lower carbon content. However, other alloying elements, such as chromium and vanadium, can also influence the hardness of steel.


This is a measure of a material’s ability to absorb energy and deform plastically before fracturing. It is an important property for steel used in the aerospace industry, as it determines the material’s resistance to fracture under dynamic loading.

Steel with higher toughness can absorb more energy before fracturing, making it more suitable for aerospace applications. The toughness of a material can be determined through various tests, such as Charpy testing, which measures the energy absorbed during a pendulum impact test.

Yield Strength

Yield strength is another important property of steel that is defined as the amount of stress or load a material can withstand before it starts to deform permanently. In other words, it is the point at which the material will no longer return to its original shape after the applied force is removed.

Yield strength is measured in pascals, which is a unit of pressure. Steel with a higher yield strength can withstand more stress before it deforms, making it suitable for aerospace applications. The yield strength of steel can be increased by adding alloying elements such as manganese, nickel, chromium, and molybdenum. 

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is an important mechanical property of steel that is used to measure the amount of force a material can withstand before breaking. It is also known as the ultimate strength or ultimate tensile strength (UTS). 

Tensile strength is measured in units of force per unit area, such as pounds per square inch (psi). In the aviation industry, tensile strength is used to determine the strength of the metal used in aircraft components.



Malleability is a property of steel that allows it to be compressed into sheets of variable thicknesses, often by hammering or pressing. This property makes it a highly sought-after material for use in the aerospace industry, as it allows for greater flexibility in the design process. 


Ductility is another important property of steel that refers to its ability to deform under tensile stress without breaking or cracking. It is a measure of how much a material can be stretched or pulled before it reaches its breaking point.

Steel is a highly ductile material, meaning it can be stretched and bent into a variety of shapes and sizes without breaking. This makes it an ideal material for aerospace components, as it can be formed into complex shapes that are lightweight and strong. 

What Is The Application Of Metal Forging To Aviation Industry?

Metal forging is an essential process in the aerospace industry, as it provides superior strength and durability for aircraft components. The process of metal forging involves heating metal to a high temperature and then hammering or pressing it into the desired shape. This process is used to create parts such as landing gear, engine components, wings, and fuselage.

Metal forging is preferred over traditional machining and casting methods due to its superior strength and durability. The process of metal forging is able to create components with a uniform grain structure, which gives them superior strength and durability. This makes them ideal for aerospace applications, as they can withstand the rigors of high-speed flight and extreme temperatures.

The process of metal forging also creates components with a high degree of precision and accuracy, making them suitable for complex components. Additionally, metal forging can create components with a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing for greater design flexibility.


Metal forging


Alloy Stainless Steel Aerospace Forgings 

To meet the stringent demands of the aerospace and aircraft manufacturing industries, the parts and components manufactured must be made from high-precision metals that can withstand harsh environmental conditions. 

High-grade steel alloys are particularly suitable for this purpose, as they can endure the rigors of extreme altitudes and temperature fluctuations, delivering exceptional strength and reliability to the aerospace and aviation industry. (5)

Alloy stainless steel aerospace forgings are used in a variety of applications in the aerospace industry. This includes aircraft frames, landing gear, and engine components. The strength and durability of these steel forgings make them ideal for these applications. Additionally, the corrosion resistance of the steel makes it suitable for use in the harsh environment of aerospace applications.


Types of Steel

Steel can be classified into several categories, depending on its composition, properties, and uses.

Carbon Steel: Carbon steel is a versatile and widely used material in the manufacturing industry. It is primarily composed of iron and carbon, with small amounts of other elements. 

Carbon steel is classified into three categories based on its carbon content, with low, medium, and high carbon steel each having unique properties and applications. Carbon steel’s relative versatility and inexpensive cost make it an excellent choice for a wide range of major and small-scale construction projects.

Alloy Steel: Alloy steel is a type of steel that contains other elements, such as manganese, silicon, nickel, and chromium. These elements are added to enhance the properties of the steel, such as strength, corrosion resistance, and malleability. Alloy steel is used in a variety of applications, including aerospace components and medical implants.

Tool Steel: Tool steel is a type of high-carbon steel that is specifically designed to be used in the production of tools. It is known for its durability, hardness, and resistance to wear and tear, making it an ideal material for manufacturing cutting tools, dies, punches, and other components that are subjected to heavy use and high stress. 

Tool steel typically contains various alloying elements, such as tungsten, molybdenum, chromium, and vanadium, which contribute to its unique properties.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is predominantly composed of iron and chromium, and is recognized for its superior resistance to corrosion when compared to carbon steel. This makes it particularly suitable for use in outdoor settings or environments that are exposed to moisture or salt water. 

Additionally, it boasts better mechanical properties than many other types of steel, making it a preferred option for structural components like bridges and buildings. Also commonly used in a variety of applications, including kitchen appliances and medical equipment parts.


Enhance Aerospace Performance With Valence’s Metal Finishes

Metal finishes can play a critical role in enhancing the performance of aerospace components. The aerospace industry demands high-performance materials that can withstand extreme conditions, such as high temperatures, high-stress loads, and exposure to harsh chemicals. 

Since the aerospace industry demands high-performance materials that can withstand extreme conditions, these metal finishes have become a priority and are important in improving the properties of the metal components, such as their corrosion resistance, wear resistance, part durability and strength, surface finishing, and thermal stability. 

Valence metal finishes include plating, spraying, anodizing, powder coating, and painting. Valence’s metal finishes are specifically designed to meet the demands of the aerospace industry and help provide superior protection against corrosion, wear and tear, and other extreme environmental factors, making them an essential part of aerospace safety and performance.

Final Thoughts

Steel forging is an intricate and highly specialized process that has been used for centuries to create a wide variety of products for many industries, including the aerospace industry.

The process of steel forging is a complex one, and it is important to ensure that the process is done correctly in order to ensure the highest levels of performance and reliability. Steel forging is a process that is well worth the time and money spent, as it can result in parts and components that are both strong and lightweight, and that are capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and pressures.

If you are an aerospace manufacturer or engineer looking to improve the performance and reliability of your parts, then steel forging is definitely worth considering. By partnering with reputable metal processing experts, you can benefit from top-notch expertise, experience, and advanced technology to create parts that meet your exact specifications.

So, if you looking to take your aerospace performance to the next level, don’t hesitate to contact Valence Surface Technologies. And if you need help or need a quote for your next project, please feel free to contact us here, and we would be delighted to assist you.

Check out these blogs for more interesting news and insights:


What type of steel is used in the aviation industry?

The aviation industry uses a variety of steels depending on the application. The most common types of steel used in the aviation industry are alloy steel, stainless steel, and tool steel. Alloy steels are used for their strength and durability, while stainless steels are used for their corrosion resistance. Tool steels are used for their hardness and wear resistance.


What is the process of steel usage in the aerospace industry?

The process of using steel in aerospace applications involves various stages, including material selection, fabrication, and testing. The steel used in aerospace must meet stringent quality standards and undergo rigorous testing to ensure its suitability for use in critical applications. The steel is typically formed into different shapes and components through processes like forging, rolling, and machining before being assembled into the final structure.

What is the importance of steelmaking process quality in enhancing aerospace performance?

The quality of the steelmaking process is essential in enhancing aerospace performance. Steel used in aerospace must be able to withstand extreme temperatures, stresses, and other harsh conditions without compromising safety or performance. The quality of the steelmaking process can affect various properties of the steel, such as its strength, toughness, ductility, and resistance to fatigue and corrosion.


What reinforced steel materials are used in the aerospace industry? 

Reinforced steel materials are used in the aerospace industry to improve the strength and durability of components. These materials typically include high-strength steels, alloys, and composites. High-strength steels are used for their superior strength and toughness, while alloys are used for their corrosion resistance and heat resistance. Composites are used for their lightweight and high strength-to-weight ratio.


What metals are used in space technology?

Some of the most commonly used metals in space technology include aluminum, titanium, copper, and steel. Other metals used in space technology include nickel, magnesium, and zirconium, which offer unique properties that make them useful in various space applications.


  1. The History of Steel Forging | Steel Available. (2023).
  2. Columbia, U. of B., University, C., Twitter, T., & LinkedIn, L. (2023). The Modern Method for Manufacturing Steel. ThoughtCo.
  3. Columbia, U. of B., University, C., Twitter, T., & LinkedIn, L. (2023). The Modern Method for Manufacturing Steel. ThoughtCo.
  4. Sunflag Steel | 5 Steps of Steel Manufacturing. (n.d.).
  5. Stainless Steel Alloy Aerospace Forgings | Great Lakes Forge. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2023, from

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