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This article provides a summary of the overall development of the finite element method (FEM) and its contribution to the materials forming industry. It presents an overview of FEM methodologies and applications in the order of their usage in typical manufacturing (bulk forming process) process sequence: primary materials processing, hot forging and cold forming, and product assembly. The article discusses the material fracture and dies stress analysis and presents the optimization techniques used in 2-D and 3-D preform die design.

For forming processes, optimization goals range from tuning the process parameters while keeping geometry unchanged to finding optimal geometry for intermediate dies in a multistage forming operation. This article commences with a description on the three salient steps of optimization procedures: defining the objective function, calculating the objective function, and searching an optimum design. It concludes with an example illustrating the optimization of conical-die extrusion.

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