Bolt Manufacturing Processes

The manufacturing process of bolts

Bolts, fundamental in engineering and construction, undergo a sophisticated, multi-stage manufacturing process to morph from raw steel into precise, highly-specified metal fixtures.

The diversity in bolt sizes and shapes is vast, but the core bolt manufacturing process typically remains consistent. It begins with the cold forging of steel wire into the desired shape, proceeds to heat treatment for enhanced strength, and includes surface treatment for increased durability, culminating in packaging for distribution. More complex bolt designs, however, necessitate additional steps in their fabrication.

Steps of Bolt Manufacturing Processes

Cold Forging

Initiated with large steel wire rods, which are uncoiled and cut to the required length.

The steel grade adheres to ISO 898‑1 standards.

Through specialized tooling, the wire undergoes cold forging to achieve the necessary shape. This process involves molding the steel at room temperature under high pressure through a series of intricate dies.

For bolts with complex designs, additional turning or drilling may be necessary, involving high-speed spinning and material removal, or drilling through the bolt. In some cases, washers are attached during this phase.

Heat Treatment

A universal step for all bolts, involving exposure to extreme temperatures to harden the steel.

Threading, usually done pre-heat treatment, is achieved either by rolling (similar to cold forging) or by cutting.

Post-heat treatment threading, though more challenging and costly, yields better fatigue performance. This step can lead to minor damages, so some clients prefer post-treatment threading for critical applications.

Sizing and Surface Treatment

For longer bolts, straightening is often necessary post-heat treatment.

Surface treatment varies based on the bolt’s application and client requirements. Commonly, zinc-plating through electrolytic treatment is used for corrosion resistance, though it poses a risk of hydrogen embrittlement. Zinc flakes are an alternative for higher corrosion resistance.

In non-corrosive environments, such as engines or oil-exposed applications, phosphate is a cost-effective option.

Advanced bolt designs may require additional assembly or patching, like nylon layers or liquid patches on threads for improved grip or thread-forming torque.

Following these processes, the bolts undergo quality control to ensure consistency and uniformity, before being prepared for shipment.

Steel Bolt Manufacturing Processes: Exploring 3 Distinct Techniques

In steel bolt manufacturing, three primary methods stand out: cold forming, hot forging, and machining. This article delves into each method, highlighting their respective benefits and limitations, with a focus on the bolt manufacturing process.


Cold forming – Enhances strength, reduces waste, but limited by size and shape constraints.

Hot forging – Minimizes waste and less restrictive in size/shape, yet doesn’t bolster strength.

Machining – Ideal for intricate shapes, but leads to significant waste and reduced strength.

Continue reading for an in-depth analysis of these steel bolt manufacturing techniques, aiding in determining the most suitable method for specific applications.

Steel Bolt Production Methods — Cold Forming vs. Hot Forging vs. Machining

Below, we compare cold forming, hot forging, and machining, considering factors like size and shape, waste production, strength enhancement, and material compatibility.

Cold Forming of Steel Bolts

Involves shaping bolts from steel without applying heat.

Size & Shape: Limited by the pressure needed for larger diameters, and machine size practicality. Some shapes may be challenging or impossible to achieve without heating or cutting.

Waste: Advantageous as it forms without removing material or heating, thus reducing material and energy waste.

Strength: Benefits from work hardening as steel’s grain structure remains intact and aligned with the part’s contours.

Material: Varies with metal type; while alloy steel cold forms easily, others like stainless steel may be less amenable.

Hot Forging of Steel Bolts

Entails heating steel until malleable, then forming in a die.

Size & Shape: Offers flexibility, preferred for large diameter bolts, and allows more shape variations due to increased ductility.

Waste: Similar to cold forming in material preservation, but requires more energy due to heating.

Strength: Limited work hardening due to altered steel grain structure from heating.

Material: Suited for materials that don’t cold form or machine well, necessitating high temperatures for proper formation.

Machining of Steel Bolts

Entails cutting steel to achieve the desired dimensions.

Size & Shape: No restrictions on size or shape, preferred for complex bolt designs.

Waste: High material waste as material is removed to achieve shape.

Strength: No added strength due to interrupted grain flow and absence of work hardening.

Material: Effective for certain materials that are more amenable to cutting, like specific aluminum types.

Learn More About Our Bolt Manufacturing Processes at Gulian

Cold forming, hot forging, and machining are all viable methods used in steel bolt manufacturing. The choice of method depends on the specific requirements of the application. At Gulian, we primarily use cold forming but also incorporate machining as needed. For further information about our company, our specialty fasteners, or our Bolt manufacturing processes.

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