Forging is one of the oldest known metalworking processes. Traditionally, forging was performed by a smith using hammer and anvil, though introducing water power to the production and working of iron in the 12th century allowed the use of large trip hammers or power hammers that exponentially increased the amount and size of iron that could be produced and forged easily. The smithy or forge has evolved over centuries to become a facility with engineered processes, production equipment, tooling, raw materials and products to meet the demands of modern industry.
In modern times, industrial forging is done either with presses or with hammers powered by compressed air, electricity, hydraulics or steam. These hammers may have reciprocating weights in the thousands of pounds. Smaller power hammers, 500 lb (230 kg) or less reciprocating weight, and hydraulic presses are common in art smithies as well. Some steam hammers remain in use, but they became obsolete with the availability of the other, more convenient, power sources.
mpression-die forging is also called "closed-die forging". In impression-die forging, the metal is placed in a die resembling a mold, which is attached to an anvil. Usually, the hammer die is shaped as well. The hammer is then dropped on the workpiece, causing the metal to flow and fill the die cavities. The hammer is generally in contact with the workpiece on the scale of milliseconds. Depending on the size and complexity of the part, the hammer may be dropped multiple times in quick succession. Excess metal is squeezed out of the die cavities, forming what is referred to as "flash". The flash cools more rapidly than the rest of the material; this cool metal is stronger than the metal in the die, so it helps prevent more flash from forming. This also forces the metal to completely fill the die cavity. After forging, the flash is removed.