Thursday, 06 November 2014 00:00

The Beginner's Guide to Cold Heading - Everything you need to know

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Understanding the process of cold heading is important so you know what to look for in a service provider. However, this is only the first step. You also need to know why cold heading is a more cost effective option above the alternatives, in addition to understanding what services are available in the industry. Providing you with all of the information up front is essential in making the right decision for your own business, both in terms of overall quality and price. 

Cold Heading Basics

Cold Heading VideoNestor Fernandez, Akko Fastener President, talks about Cold Heading at Akko Cold heading is also known as cold forming. The metal is shaped and altered at a cooler temperature. Some companies choose to utilize the cold heading process at room temperature, while others perform in cooler temperatures due to the kind of metal used in the process and the strength of the machinery. Typically though, this is not going to have any outweighing significance on the cost of your final product. Because none of the material is shaved off, it is possible for the manufacturer to reduce waste to almost zero. Additionally, as the temperature can remain closer to room temperature, the manufacturer is not going to spend much on heating the metal. By cutting out almost all potential waste and not relying on excessive heat, costs may be 70% less than other options.

These are just the general financial basics of the cold heading process though. To understand the benefits of cold heading even further, you need to dive into the actual techniques of the process. This way, you know exactly what takes place and how it does differ from the other options out there. 

Common Techniques

While utilizing the cold heading process, there are several different techniques a manufacturer might use during the production process. These different techniques are generally used based on the kind of metal involved in cold heading. The techniques can also play a role in what the final shape is to look like. In general though, each of the general three techniques are extremely important and have a specific purpose. When it comes to cold heading, the three most common techniques are:

  • Forward Extrusion
  • Backward Extrusion
  • Upset

Now, it is important to understand that there are some variables and changes associated with these three techniques. One particular manufacturer might slightly alter their technique based on what they believe works best for them. They might also change the way they use a general technique in regards to the kind of metal involved. However, these main three formats are the basis of all cold heading.

Forward Extrusion

If you are new to the idea of cold heading, the first popular option is known as forward extrusion. This is designed to reduce the overall diameter of the metal by forcing the metal to flow through a cavity that has a smaller diameter than the piece itself. While the metal is pushed through this cavity, extreme weight is used in order to compress the metal down upon itself. Different metals have a different yield in terms of compression, with softer metals such as aluminum, tin and gold providing an extremely desirable yield. Harder metals, including steel and iron, do not have much of a compression, so pushing these materials through the cold heading hardware is not going to generate as thin of a finalized product as the software materials that are less dense. 

Backward Extrusion

The second option when it comes to cold heading is known as backward extrusion. During this process, holes are made where the material is able to flow backward around the cold heading item, which is then used to create what is known as a penetrating punch. The penetrating punch basically pushes pieces of the metal out through the created holes, without actually cutting the metal out. It simply forces some of the current metal out. It is important to understand that some manufacturing methods actually call for the utilization of one or all three of the different methods, as it all depends on what the final product is suppose to do. It is possible the manufacturer simply needs the metal to be flattened into a smaller form, or they might need it thinner and pressed through one of the holes through a Backward extrusion practice in order to create a thin, shaped piece of metal (this might be necessary to produce wiring or other circular material). 


The third and final process of cold heading is known as upset. During this method, the material is upset right at the face where it can then be opened or trapped in order to create a specific shape. While backward extrusion might simply force it into a circular shape, upset allows for much more variety and helps control the concentricity of the finished part. This way, the manufacturer can ultimately create the exact shape and design they need (or that you need for your particular order). 

What Tools Are Required for Cold Heading

Cold Heading Slow MotionCold Heading Process - Slow Motion Video

It is not possible to simply perform cold heading with general tools. It is necessary to have all of the necessary hardware on hand, otherwise a manufacturer is not able to perform the cold heading process. There are all sorts of different products that can come from cold heading, but ultimately, without the necessary tools, the manufacturer is not able to produce the final product. 

In general, in order to perform cold heading, a manufacturer is going to utilize:

  • Cold header
  • Part former
  • Punches
  • Dies 

There are several pieces of equipment required to perform the cold heading, although the exact equipment may vary depending on what process is being used. First, there is some general equipment, including the cold header and the former. These are both horizontal rams that use stationary bolsters. The equipment usually utilizes a 5-die progression machine that is able to cut off sizes of the metal anywhere from a full inch all the way down to an eighth of an inch, depending on what the desired standard is. In terms of the tools, there are two components required to perform the cold heading. These tools are punches and dies. The punches are there to transfer any sort of required force from the machine into the material. A good amount of force is often required, although this is going to depend on the kind of metal in question. The dies are used in order to hold the material in a specific location and direct it towards a desired direction.  

Common Designs from Cold Heading

Designs-from-Cold-Heading smallSimulate To Reduce Time to Manufacture Defect Free Part There are some rather common designs that come out of this process. Again, it all depends on the manufacturing and what is desired. It really is possible to produce a wide range of shapes, including a hexagonal head, diameter reduction and a cylindrical extrusion. Beyond these general shapes, a manufacturer is able to produce lugs, carriage bolts, radial slots, a round head with slit, multi-diameter extrusion and double Backward extrusion. Typically, the finished product is going to produce a high-quality screw, nut or bolt. With the designed product, the screw or other fastener is going to maintain a stronger presence, simply because it is all one solid material and not several combined. 

Why Choose Us

When selecting a manufacturer for your product, cold heading is a valuable option as it is significantly less expensive than other forms of production. Beyond this though, you need to take advantage of our services as we provide not only a discounted and cost effective production method, but we want you to locate the best service provider for your particular needs. So, if there is a better company out there, we are more than willing to point you in their direction, but we are so sure of our product and cost, we believe you are going to stay with us and take advantage of everything we have to offer. 


If you require information on cold heading or want to know more about its benefits, feel free to contact Akko Fastener by clicking on the button on the right. Fill in a simple “Contact Us” form and one of our representatives will contact you right away..

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