Cold Heading versus Screw Machining

Many machined components can be re-designed as cold formed components for substantial cost savings. It is recommended to view all metal parts as candidates for Cold Heading when quantity minimums are 25,000 pieces or greater.

What is Cold Heading?

Cold Heading is also referred to as Cold Forming. Cold Heading/Forming is a fast and more efficient method to produce both standard and special fasteners and custom shaped components. The technology has been in place for over 150 years.

Cold Heading/Forming is a process where a slug of wire is cut off and pushed into a die. The protruding end is then upset in an outward direction; called HEADING. Through the process, metal is formed on the same axis and usually involves changing a diameter from the original wire size as an extrusion.

Cold Heading/Forming offers various types of equipment to cold head parts that can be as simple as a screw blank or more complicated shapes that may require multiple diameter configurations such as shoulders. Parts coming off a cold header are usually complete or near net finished with zero to minimal scrap, generating significant raw material savings compared to screw machining.

Cold Heading/Forming can be used as the primary manufacturing process in combination with secondary machining to achieve part configuration, where tolerances or the design may require tighter tolerances beyond the usual +/- .005 tolerance range that is associated with a cold headed/cold formed blank.

Advantages of Cold Heading / Cold Forming:

  • Cold Heading/Forming can provide material savings of up to 70% due to reduced scrap versus machining.
  • Cold Heading/Forming achieves savings through its higher-speed processes. Speeds range from 50 to 300 pieces.
  • Cold Heading/Forming can improve product performance. Unlike screw machining where grain flow is interrupted, the cold heading process rearranges the grain structure increasing shear strength performance.
  • Cold Heading/Forming provides for consistent higher quality as surface finish will mirror the smooth condition and dimensions of the dies; usually eliminating secondary finishing.
  • Cold Heading/Forming results in repetitious tight tolerance consistency.
  • Cold Heading/Forming offers the potential to convert multi part units to a single part therefore saving on parts, labor, inspection, tolerance issues, purchases, inventory coordination and assembly time while improving strength and product output.

Material Choices – Virtually all commercial metals processed by machining are available as wire for cold forming.

  • Carbon Steels (including Boron)
  • Magnetic and Non-magnetic Stainless
  • Alloy Steels
  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Bronze
  • Nickle Alloys

Article by Mike Gilsenan
MSR, Specialty Screw Corporation

Specialty Screw Corporation located in Rockford Illinois is a manufacturer of Ball Studs, Cold Headed Fasteners, Cold Headed Products, Cold Headed Special Fasteners, Collar Studs, Collar Bolts, Automotive Screws, Automotive Fasteners, Metric Fasteners, Special Automotive Fasteners, Bolts, Special Bolts, Engineered Fasteners, Special Cold Forming, Special Cold Heading, Special Fasteners, Special Pins, Special Rivets, Double End Studs, and Synergistic Assemblies. Markets served include the Automotive, Electrical, Recreational, Hardware, Outdoor Power Equipment, Lawn And Garden, Distribution, Hand Tools and Molded rubber/plastic products industries.

Specialty Screw Corporation is also licensed to manufacture MAThread® and MATpoint®.

MAThread® and MATpoint® are patented thread designs.
MAThread and MATpoint are registered trademarks of MAThread Inc.