From art to part: Learning from the traditional smith in developing flexible sheet metal forming processes

Daniel T. Bowen, Iacopo M. Russo, Christopher J. Cleaver, Julian M. Allwood, Evripides G. Loukaides

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (SciVal)


The traditional metal smith has the remarkable capability to form a variety of part shapes from flat sheets using only a few universal tools. Such versatility is increasingly appealing to manufacturers who now seek to diversify part catalogues and reduce tooling costs. Despite this utility, the laborious, manual nature of these traditional techniques preclude them from meeting modern-day, high-volume demand. However, some techniques have served as starting points for the development of new flexible metal forming processes, either through creating new processes that closely replicate the traditional techniques or by automating the manual process. Here, we look closely at some of the techniques used by the traditional smith to form sheets and review automated adaptations of these processes. We find that decision-making elements of these adapted processes are not yet as capable as their manual counterparts, suggesting there is still a lot we can learn from the traditional smith. As such, we look both within and beyond the domain of metal forming at the technologies and the methods that can be used to capture the skilled actions of the smith and how the resulting data can be used to enhance the design and operation of mechanised variants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117337
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Materials Processing Technology
Early online date19 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022


  • Automation
  • Craft
  • Flexible manufacturing
  • Metal forming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'From art to part: Learning from the traditional smith in developing flexible sheet metal forming processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this