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Monthly archive for May 2013

Hydroforming for Performance in the Automotive Industry

Hydroforming for Performance in the Automotive Industry

Automakers face a number of challenges in providing consumers with vehicles that are safe, fuel efficient and reliable. One way they are achieving these goals is with the use of hydroformed automotive parts. Hydroforming is a metal fabrication process that uses high pressurized fluid and a specialized type of die molding that produces parts which are lightweight, cost-effective and although thinner, have increased strength and structural integrity.

BMW has been using hydroformed parts in their high performance vehicles for several years. The BMW M3 features hydroformed exhaust tubes, for instance. Ford utilized hydroformed steel tubes in the B-pillars and a hydroformed roof rail in the 2013 Ford Fusion. The structural superiority as well as the lighter weight and reduced costs are key reasons that automakers have begun to incorporate hydroformed parts into their newer models.

Weight is increasingly a concern for both consumers and automakers due to EPA regulations regarding fuel efficiency. A lighter vehicle enjoys improved MPG, in fact, according to the EPA, every 100 pounds of extra weight in a vehicle reduces the MPG by 2 percent.

But perhaps more important than weight and MPG, is safety. Hydroformed parts have a higher stiffness to weight ratio and increased strength. The absence of welding joints means these parts have a greater ability to absorb crash energy. This means vehicles have greater crash worthiness which translates into improved safety for the occupants of the vehicle in case of a crash.

For improved safety and structural strength as well as reduced weight and overall production costs, hydroforming is a perfect solution for the performance automotive industry.

We are American Hydroformers and we specialize in the manufacture of hydroformed parts. Contact us for information on hydroforming solutions for your automotive parts needs.

Hydroforming into the Next Generation

Hydroforming into the Next Generation

Technology born in the 1940s has evolved through the decades to become the most desired manufacturing method for widely varied industries. From the shape of a saxophone, the tubes in bicycle frames, high strength automobile components, and even the new stainless steel sink installed your kitchen, hydroforming is a cost effective way to shape aluminum, brass, stainless steel, copper, alloys, and even carbon, into high strength structural components with tight tolerances.

When hydroforming, a large press is used with a punch similar to male die element in matched die forming. What would be the female element is actually a bladder full of hydraulic fluid at extreme pressures, and between the two is a metal blank. The punch presses into the bladder, shaping the metal into the desired form while leaving the surface smooth. Once pressed, the pressure is released from the bladder and the finished part is removed.

Here are some of the advantages to hydroforming:

  • Tooling costs are lower with hydroforming because the female side is a reusable bladder, only the male die and a holding ring are unique to each job.
  • Faster prototyping is possible. Various materials and material thicknesses can be used with the same tooling setup. This brings in your total project time thereby reducing development costs.
  • Complex shapes can be achieved with a single press cycle where traditional matched die forming would require multiple press cycles.
  • Hydroforming achieves outstanding surface finishes. The soft bladder leaves no lines, scratches, or surface blemishes, which would otherwise require extra time to polish out of the finished product.

At American Hydroformers, we have the expertise and the equipment to provide you with the next generation of formed metal components. From the automotive industry to the appliance business, contact our experts for more information.

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

May 1, 2013 will always be a day that the Ford Motor Company and the design team for the Ford Fusion can look back on with pride. That was the day the Steel Market Development Institue (SMDI) of the American Iron and Steel Institue awarded them the Automotive Excellence Award for 2013. Why? Because of their “innovative use of advanced high-strength steel throughout the [car’s] body structure and closures.”

So what was this innovative use? After all, high-strength steel has been used in cars for years. Turns out the Ford Fusion is the first car to make use of hydroformed steel tubes in its B-pillars – a design decision Ron Krupitzer (VP of automotive market, SMDI) believes “contributes to the vehicle’s improved side impact performance, mass reduction and roof strength.” All of which are important to the industry and consumers.

So what is tube hydroforming? Basically, it’s a process that uses a mold and hydraulic fluid to form a tube. Aluminum is placed inside a mold followed by the injection of hydraulic fluid under high-pressure. As the hydraulic fluid enters, the aluminum fills the mold evenly creating a tube that’s stronger and lighter than those created by other processes.

The automotive industry isn’t the only industry that’s discovered the advantages of tube hydroforming. The bicycle industry has as well. In traditional bicycle making, the tubes for the frame are stamped out of the material, a process which can cause weak points at the corners and rounded surfaces since the pressure used in the process is not distributed evenly. Hydroformed tubes avoid that uneven pressure and are stronger for it. In addition to their greater strength and lighter weight, hydroformed tubes also provide bicycle makers with reduced production costs, safer working conditions, and a better surface for painting and finishing.

Since it’s creation in the 1950s, the hydroforming has been used in the production of many products – from cars to bicycles to brass instruments and many other things. It’s a process whose future is bright and is sure to include many more awards and inventions.

If we can help you with your production needs, contact us. Helping you create your dream is part of our job.

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

In a layman’s term, Hydroforming is a method that is applied when producing metallic components. The technique utilizes a high pressure liquid to push a thin film inside a mold. The outcome is a seamless metallic component which is not only light in weight, but robust and durable.

Different Types of Hydro-Formed Components

There are generally two types of products that can be produced through Hydroforming. These are:

  • Customized hydro-formed components that are normally produced by the industries only by request.
  • Generic hydro-formed components that are mass produced by companies for the sole purpose of sale as well as distribution.

The cost of producing customized hydro-formed components normally hinge on several factors such as the complexity and dimension of the order. If the purpose of the fabrication is to produce parts that are to be used in complex projects, then the overhead can be high since technicians spend more time and effort in ensuring that the final product is made according to the specification of a client.

What Are the Different Types of Techniques Used in Hydroforming?

There are two types of techniques that can be applied during the Hydroforming process. These are:

  • Making use of a bladder stuffed with fluid: While using this type of technique, the technician puts an even film of metal in a mold and then covers the mold using the bladder before exerting pressure from the other end. As the pressure is increased by the technician, the bladder pushes the metal inside a mold. When the process is complete, both ends of the halves are opened to reveal the metal part. This technique is suitable for creating metal parts with high levels of details.

Tube forming: While using this technique to create metal parts, the technician seals a tube within the mold using a shape that has been cut along the strip of the tube. The mold is held in position using blocks. Thereafter, a high-pressure is forced through the metal tube which then causes the tube to expand outwards thereby allowing for the mold to form.

If you need a service provider who can help you with Hydroforming, contact us today for more details.