Revolutionizing Manufacturing of Forging Equipment

An In-Depth Overview of Ajax/CECO/Erie Press

Ajax Erie Roots Graphic

The Evolution of Forging

The forging industry has been a mainstay in manufacturing since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. The art of reshaping metal under pressure to create robust, high-strength components has been central to advancements in a vast range of industries. The origin of upset forging, or machine forging, dates back to the bolt industry and railroad shops. Early adopters realized that a myriad of forgings could be crafted via a simple heading process—grasping a bar of uniform cross-section, usually round, between grooved dies and exerting pressure on the heated end.

Early machines were rated based on their ability to head bolts of a certain size. A one-inch machine could head a one-inch bolt, a two-inch machine a two-inch bolt, and so forth. This rating system is still used today and explains why we see massive machines, weighing as much as 312 tons and capable of exerting over 2,000 tons pressure, referred to as 10-inch machines.

The Erie Press Product Line: A Legacy of Innovation

Ajax/CECO/Erie Press, with its deep-rooted history and an unrelenting commitment to quality and innovation, is actively involved in several areas of the forming equipment marketplace. Here are a few examples of the pioneering projects and developments the company has spearheaded.

  • Semi-Solid Forming Systems: The development and manufacture of the first semi-solid forming system for the production of aluminum car wheels was a significant breakthrough in the industry. More than 20 of these systems have been delivered to customers manufacturing various types of aluminum parts.
  • Automated Cold Forming Systems: Their highly automated cold forming manufacturing systems are designed for the production of critical automotive components such as axle components, steering components, and suspension components.
  • Turnkey Systems for Aerospace: Ajax/CECO/Erie Press provides turnkey systems for vacuum compaction of aluminum billets, primarily used in manufacturing aerospace parts.
  • High Energy Rate Forging Press Systems: Many of these systems are fully automated, providing efficient and high-quality output for various forging needs.
  • Artillery Shell Forming Lines: Ajax/CECO/Erie Press has developed highly automated artillery shell forming lines, complete with robotic handling, for the manufacture of 155mm shells.

The Advent of Ajax Manufacturing Company

In 1885, upset forging had developed to the extent that the Ajax Manufacturing Company built the first general-purpose forging machine. Weighing 32,000 pounds, this pioneering machine was a four-inch size model and marked a significant milestone in the progression of forging technology.

The Ajax Manufacturing Company continued to innovate, building the first 6-inch machine in 1898. With a weight of 95,000 pounds, it boasted the first steel forged crankshaft. The company pushed the envelope again in 1910 with the creation of the first 7-inch machine, integrating a steel forged crank and cast steel frame to withstand the heavy forging pressures exerted on a machine of this size.

Expanding Boundaries with Advanced Forging Solutions

  • Forging Plant Equipment: They also offer a range of forging plant equipment supplying parts to the automotive industry. This includes mechanical forging presses, trim presses, and large hydraulic cold forming presses.
  • Specialized Press Systems: Among the innovative solutions, the company has developed a large, multi-functional, highly controlled laboratory press for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In addition, a 15,000 Ton Hydraulic Forging Press equipped with robotic part handling is utilized for the manufacture of high strength rotating parts for jet aircraft engines.
  • Pioneering Press Developments: A new 2500 Ton multi-station, large, closed die forging press has been developed, manufactured, and installed by Ajax/CECO/Erie Press – the first of its kind in the US. They also provide mechanical forging presses with a 4000 Ton capacity, designed for manufacturing heavy-duty truck and off-road equipment forgings.

The Automobile Industry: A Catalyst for Innovation

While the burgeoning agricultural machinery industry and expanding American railway development contributed to a steady increase in demand for forging machines, a new contender emerged. The manufacturing of automobiles began to grow in prominence, creating a tremendous need for high-quality alloy steel forgings.

To meet this burgeoning demand, Ajax introduced a complete line of machines capable of forging harder alloy steels. These machines were redesigned for greater capacity and better die alignment, setting a new industry standard. Perhaps most notably, in 1932, Ajax introduced the first direct-acting air-operated friction clutch. Leveraging the newly available improved friction materials, this innovation was celebrated as the greatest single improvement in forging machinery of that decade, increasing production by as much as 25%.

Modern Day Forging Machines and Automation

The modern era of forging machines has seen the advent of automatic machinery. These advanced systems range from a one-inch machine weighing 17,000 pounds to a 10-inch machine weighing 625,000 pounds. Automatic forging machines can produce complex shapes accurately and economically, demonstrating the adaptability and versatility of Ajax’s offerings.

Hot upsetting, also known as hot heading or machine forging, is a process for enlarging and reshaping some of the cross-sectional area of a bar, tube, or other product form of uniform, usually round sections. This process has evolved from simple single blow heading of parts to the use of multiple pass dies for complex shapes. Ajax’s equipment is equipped for a broad spectrum of operations including swaging, bending, shearing, slitting, trimming, punching, internal displacement, extrusion, and more.

Advantages of Ajax/CECO/Erie Press Forging Equipment

In addition to innovation, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press is synonymous with reliability and productivity. Ajax’s forging machines are designed to offer maximum production. The Ajax-developed direct-acting air clutch provides instant response and smooth, cushioned starting at high operating speeds. This allows for maximum production rates and offers overload protection during heading, contributing to machine longevity and consistent performance.

Accurate and Efficient Forging

A critical element to consider in manufacturing is precision. The rigidity, power, and precise alignment of the Ajax extension-guided header and die slide help produce consistently accurate forgings. These precise forgings often require minimum secondary machining, thus reducing time and costs. With Ajax machines, metal displacement during piercing is very accurate and concentric. Accurate header slide alignment holds tools concentric in the die impression, reducing abrasion and wear when piloting is necessary.

The generous die height on 6 inch and larger sizes provides space for additional forging operations. This extra space allows for the creation of more intricate forged parts and is particularly advantageous on automated machines in these sizes. As a result, production time is maximized as Ajax machine design minimizes set up time. Ajax machines can also be “inched” under power to save time and manual effort.

Designed for Optimal Operation and Maintenance

Ajax machines are convenient to operate, which further enhances productivity. The throat opening and operating height provide easy access to the dies so the operator can stand in a balanced position without interference from the tie rod. Additionally, forward stock movement is minimized, promoting operator safety and efficiency.

Dependability is a key characteristic of Ajax forging machines. They operate reliably and accurately for extended periods, even under adverse conditions. Protective heavy steel shields safeguard moving parts from scale and water, ensuring machine durability.

When it comes to routine maintenance and servicing, all components are readily accessible. The unique Ajax underarm construction makes the Pitman eccentric bearing easy to inspect and lubricate. The flywheel, pinion shaft, clutch, and brake are located above floor level in the frame extension, making them easy to reach.

All machine bearings are carefully designed and made from carefully selected materials to retain accuracy and ensure a long service life. A pressure lubricating system is standard equipment on two through 10-inch machines, adding to the longevity and reliability of the machines. Ajax forging machines are easy to maintain and can be completely disassembled in only a little more space than they occupy, which is beneficial for workshops with space constraints.

Specialized Forming Equipment: Advancing Industry Standards

  • Carbon Extrusion Presses: For the steel and aluminum industries, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press produces Carbon Extrusion Presses for the manufacture of carbon electrodes and cathodes.
  • Stretch Forming Equipment: Catering to the aerospace and rail industries, they offer both extrusion and sheet Stretch Forming equipment, providing versatile and efficient forming solutions.
  • Super Plastic Forming / Diffusion Bonding (SPF/DB) Presses: Designed specifically for the aerospace industry, these presses offer innovative solutions for creating complex, high-performance components.

Through these varied product offerings and services, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press continues to revolutionize manufacturing, providing advanced forging equipment solutions to businesses around the world. For more information on Ajax/CECO/Erie Press’s product offerings, reach out to us. We’re excited to help you find the right forging solution for your business.

Ajax/CECO/Erie Press: Forging the Future of Manufacturing

Ajax/CECO/Erie Press’s legacy continues with a commitment to pioneering the future of the forging industry. Our forging machines are not just devices that transform metal—they’re the heartbeat of factories worldwide, ensuring that wheels keep turning, infrastructures keep standing, and societies keep advancing.

As we look ahead, we remain committed to driving further innovation and maintaining the high standards of reliability and serviceability that our customers have come to expect. With a history marked by continuous growth and a future focused on advancing the art of forging, we’re excited to forge ahead into the future.

For more specific information on our current Ajax Forging Machine product line now manufactured by Ajax/CECO/Erie Press, we invite you to visit our website. We’re here to help you keep forging ahead, delivering the quality and reliability that your manufacturing operations require.