Monthly archive for July 2013

Tube Hydroforming vs. Metal Stamping

Tube Hydroforming vs. Metal Stamping

Today, nearly all businesses that desire to form parts have concerns regarding the strength, weight, and cost of a component. Metal stamping has been a traditional metal forming procedure. It does not always ensure those characteristics that businesses are looking for in a part, as does tube hydroforming.

There are some disadvantages of stamping. Prices for low production runs have never been economical. Facilities that have to place their whole collection of programs into action refuse to accept smaller runs. High tooling prices are proving to be the enemy of the industry. Moreover, stamping could have a detrimental impact on the structural strength of those parts being formed.

Stamping  results frequently in material wastage. Most stamping businesses do not have any way to reuse the unstamped parts of a sheet metal. The process of production and prototyping tooling translates into more lead times. Once finalized, altering as it raises the job costs the tooling design is not achievable.

Stamping has longer timelines and higher project costs. What is hydroforming?  A better metal forming process called Hydroforming addresses all the disadvantages linked to the metal stamping procedures. A pressurized hydraulic fluid is useful for forming a metal sheet within the desired contour.

Design molds and making changes to it can be achieved in several days without adding additional costs to a job. This approach can be coupled with deep drawing to achieve contoured parts.This procedure is appropriate for forming ductile metals such as 400 and 300 series of stainless steel, aluminium, bronze, and brass that are recommended for low weight applications.

Tube hydroforming as a procedure is utilized for making parts with a diameter of up to 20″ and a height of up to 9″. It may be used for creating parts in both convex and concave shapes. Unlike metal stamping, this approach has proven to be efficient while creating high consistency components with the desired tolerances. It is a procedure that reduces the demand for secondary finishing procedures.

It comes as no surprise that hydroformed components are sought after in businesses for example:

  • Metal furniture bases.
  • Medical equipment.
  • Nuclear business.
  • Industrial pumps components.
  • HVAC components.
  • Commercial food equipment.

Tubular Hydroforming

Tubular Hydroforming

Most of us have never considered the world of hydroforming or tubular hydroforming. The components made from these methods have permeated a great many areas of our lives from the vehicles we drive to the bikes we ride. Have you ever stopped to consider all the possibly applications of tube forming? Most of us think of automotive or, perhaps, architectural applications for hydroformed tubes. However, you’re just as likely to find hydroformed tubes in anything you can think of that you’d need a high strength, light weight tube for. Here we’ll take a look at the world of fitness to see where you’ll find hyrdroformed tubes.

In the world of fitness, you can use tube forming to make the following parts:

  • Tubular frame rails
  • Levers
  • Brackets
  • Shafts
  • Spacers
  • Pedals
  • Clamps

Many of these parts are obvious. They are the large and small hollow tubes that make up the structure of the machine. You’ll find the frame rails on the sides so you don’t fall of the machine, levers in the braking mechanisms of bikes. Around the gears and wheels you’ll find shafts and spacers. Clamps are usually found around the frame to keep the wires for the electronics safely tucked away.

However, these aren’t the only parts that are made for fitness machines; these are just the ones that use tube forming processes. In a similar process called sheet hydroforming the following parts for fitness machines can be made:

  • Leverlers
  • Flywheels
  • Mounting plates

While all of these parts are standardised for various types of machines, the beauty of tube forming for components is that they can be made-to-order for a custom design! So, if you want to start fix or design your own fitness gear, all you have to do is get the specifications for your design and leave the rest up to us.

Accuracy in tube hydroforming

Accuracy in tube hydroforming

As the demands for lightweight construction and precision grow, tube hydroforming is becoming increasingly popular. Hydroforming is used in a wide variety of applications from industry parts to bikes because the process can create parts that have desired properties, such as complex geometrical shape and light weight. Even the new Corvette design employs hydroformed tubes to keep the car lightweight. With the wide variety of complex shapes that tube hydroforming processes can be used for, you may wonder how accurate the end product is. Well, let’s take a look at some of the variables that go into hydroforming.

First, you start with a tube or sheet of steel that is placed into a cavity, and water at high pressure pushes the steel into the shape of the cavity. The factors that can affect this are:

  • Change in outer forces

This is looking at the pressure considerations of the liquid in the die cavity, which are between 30 to 150 MPa in comparison to the

  • Material yield strength
  • Inner radius of the sharpest cross sectional.
  • Material wall thickness.

When the pressures are correctly balanced, the deformation of the metal will have an optimal flow and a minimal wall thickening.

  • Change in friction

For optimal flow of the metal, friction should not be too much or too little. With too much friction, the strain of the metal as it bends could cause it to crack and break. Too little friction could me a malformed product.

  • Change in material behavior

During deformation, metals undergo stress and strain. With optimal heat and pressure, the metal flow will be such that the metal deforms smoothly into the cavity it’s being molded to.

The changes in these factors will determine optimisation of the flow of the metal as it forms to the cavity. However, skilled technicians can minimize the thickening of the walls, which increases the accuracy and meets tolerances for your project. It is possible to manufacture parts that can fulfil demands with tolerances of 0.5mm for a geometrical shape up to 500mm.

Part Analysis

Ready to get your project under way? Contact us to work with our skilled technicians for your next project.

Hydroformed Bicycle Frames

Hydroformed Bicycle Frames

You may think that if you’ve seen one bike, you’ve seen them all. Yes, they come in different colors and wheel sizes with different kinds of brakes; but they’re basically all the same. After all, they’ve all got two wheels, pedals, and a seat. How different can they be? As any cycling enthusiast can tell you, the answer to that question is very! Differences in the materials and manufacturing processes that are used can make one bike feel and ride very differently from another.

One of those different manufacturing processes involves hydroforming – a process that uses fluid and high pressure to form the tube. In bicycles, this results in a frame that’s not only stronger but also sways less under pressure, allowing it to accelerate faster. A new hydroforming process (triple hydroformed) that’s being used in some bikes goes a step further and reshapes the tubes after they’ve been welded together. The resuting frame contains less material and therefore weighs less. It also provides a more comfortable ride by minimizing vibrations to the seatpost. When all is said and done, hydroforming helps create a bike that accelerates faster, climbs hills easier, and corners easier than others – qualities any cycling enthusiast would die for.

But bikes for the cycling enthusiast aren’t the only kind of bikes hydroforming is helping to improve. Electric bikes are another. Electric bikes combine human power with the power of electricity. The two working together make for a ride that’s much less strenous. Older people find them easier to ride, and commuters can arrive at work and not have to shower immediately. Sales for electric bikes have been improving in the last few years – especially amongst those looking for alternative methods of transportation. Costing between three and five cents per battery charge, it’s not hard to see why. In addition to those looking for a cheaper way to get around town, they’re also proving popular for use in businesses like deliver y services, resorts and bike rentals. Some police departments and security firms are beginning to use them as well.

Bottom line? No matter which kind of bike you’re looking for – regular or electric – you’ll probably want to look for hydroformed bicycle frames. With better handling and less weight, they make riding a breeze.

To find out how we can help you with your hydroforming needs, contact us. We’re here to serve you.

Advantages of Tubular Hydroforming

Advantages of Tubular Hydroforming

Any item that is built with a metal tube can be made more efficiently and cost effectively with tubular hydroforming. The process was first developed and used in the 1950’s. The disadvantages of pressing and stamping tubes, i.e. weak stress points, unseen defects, and uneven distribution of metal, disappear, leaving a lighter weight but stronger metal tube.

In a nutshell, tubular hydroforming involves pumping hydraulic fluid into shape at high pressure, forcing the metal evenly into all corners of the mold. The metal, aluminum, stainless steel or other metal, flows into the shape of the mold, rather than being stretched over a die, creating a stronger tube than one that has been pressed. The metal can be further heat treated to strengthen it even more.

The advantages of this process include so much more than just light weight and strength. Consider the following.

  • Unique shapes are possible with indents or angles. For instance, one end of the tube could be round, the other oval or a tube could be made with a flattened center section.
  • Even thickness of the metal with no thick or thin spots. This reduces unseen weak spots which can break more easily.
  • Cost effective. Less waste of raw metal or due to damaged finished pieces.
  • Uses less energy to produce. The process is streamlined and robotic, and doesn’t require high temperatures.
  • There is less hazard to employees since the process is done at room temperature.
  • Leaves a smooth surface ready to paint or use as is.

Whatever product using a metal tube you may produce, it is probably possible to produce it better and more inexpensively with tubular hydroforming. The inherent strength of the product produced makes this process ideal for many products and industries, not just automotive and plumbing. It’s also frequently used for bicycles and musical instruments.

Visit our website and view the video of the hydroforming process to easily understand how it works. Then contact us so we can discuss how to help you build a better product through hydroforming. It’s a call you’ll wish you made years ago.