Call Us: (877) 920-7480

Monthly archive for August 2013

Improving Bicycles with Tube Hydroforming

Improving Bicycles with Tube Hydroforming

What is tube hydroforming? It is a metal shaping method that is replacing stamping and pressing because of its quality products and cost-effectiveness. Tube hydroforming is used to create countless products: automotive exhaust components, sink faucets, hand rails, rifle scopes, sporting goods, and bicycle frame components. More bicycles than cars are sold in the USA every year. Last year, approximately 19 million bikes were purchased. When looking for a bike, people pay close attention to the weight and stability of the bike’s frame, because all these factors make the difference between a heavy, awkward bike and one that is light and easy to maneuver.

The tube hydroforming process offers the best features of an aluminum bicycle frame. Often when a manufacturer makes a bike frame, they press or stamp the components for the frame, but the problem is that this creates weak points that the eye cannot see. Tube hydroforming, however, creates a sturdy frame, because the hydraulic fluid is pumped into the frame at high pressure, creating evenly molded aluminum without any weak spots. The process produces interesting shapes and a thickness in the material, leaving a stronger and lighter tube to be used in the frame system.

Not only are manufacturers improving bicycles with tube hydroforming, but it also saves the manufacturers money, thus reducing bike costs for consumers. The manufacturer saves a lot of funds on tools that would have been needed for stamping and pressing techniques. Hydroforming is also done at room temperature, and the die used to cast material can be used over again, saving a lot of money on energy and material costs.

Hydroforming is a reliable and trusted process. Consumers have started specifically looking for hydro-formed bicycle frames because of the frames’ sturdiness, light weight, and pleasing appearance.

For more information about tube hydroforming, our services, and experience, please contact us.

Hydroforming Titanium for the Masses?

Hydroforming Titanium for the Masses?

The advantages of using titanium and titanium alloys have long been apparent to both the scientific and commercial communities:

  • Good strength
  • Resistance to erosion and erosion-corrosion
  • Very thin, conductive oxide surface film
  • Hard, smooth surface that limits adhesion of foreign materials
  • Surface promotes dropwise condensation

Due to these benefits, titanium and titanium alloys have become important players in a variety of different industries.

Since the introduction of titanium and titanium alloys in the early 1950s, these materials have in a relatively short time become backbone materials for the aerospace, energy, and chemical industries. (The Key to Metals

However, although there are many advantages to using titanium, its commercial use has been somewhat cost prohibitive. Over the years, manufacturers have instead turned to stainless steel, which although not as durable as titanium, is significantly more affordable to work with.

Until recently, that is.

In 2012, it was announced that a team led by André Albert at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering “developed a new process for hydroforming titanium at high temperatures in a single step that promises to make titanium more of an everyday material,” a process which allows titanium to be forged by hydraulic pressure in a single step and in one place without cracking (Gizmag). Needless to say, the savings that this new procedure would provide would be an enormous boon to the industry.

With titanium’s exceptional versatility, this new hydroform procedure could move its use from the aerospace industry into everyday life, including window frames, hydraulic lines, jet engine components, bio-compatible implants, and bicycle frames — not to mention the possibilities for the automotive industry, where “because of the lack of cost-effective forming technologies for titanium, currently manifolds, exhaust pipes, catalytic converters and mufflers are primarily manufactured from high-alloy stainless steel” (TechFragments).

With hydroform bringing down the cost of titanium production, perhaps its only a matter of time until more and more of our everyday tasks — cooking, cleaning, grooming, working out — are aided by titanium instruments.

If you have questions regarding developments in hydroform technology and how we can help you take advantage of them, please feel free to contact us.

Tube Hydroforming is Beneficial

Tube Hydroforming is Beneficial

First referenced from an early 1900s process, tube hydroforming is constantly improving parts and workplace functionality. Tube hydroforming is a metal forming process where pressurized fluids form the workpiece into a shape. This technique is only now really starting to take off, though the concept of tube hydroforming has been around a while.

Until the 1980s, there was no way to economically build a tubular part with dimensional stability, design flexibility, and hole-making ability, so tubes had to be welded together from stamped parts. When tube hydroforming was fully realized and established, it satisfied a long-awaited need in the industry, which explains why tube hydroforming has gained rapid acceptance throughout the USA.

Tube hydroforming offers many benefits as compared to conventional forming techniques. The ability for deeper draws and closer control of perimeters increases part stability and prevents wrinkles and tearing. Tube hydorforming creates a part that is stiffer, less likely to have defects, and is resistant to buckling. Hydroforming replaces the stamping assemblies which are expensive and need large assembly areas and a lot of welding. The flow of the process will increase because less die is used, since the process is metal on fluid shaping and not metal on metal. Tool costs will be reduced by at least 40% because the fluid replaces half of the tooling that would be needed with welding and stamping techniques.

New capabilities for hydroforming are being found every day, as engineers learn where and how to apply tube hydroforming for best use. As a result, hydroforming is used to make more and more parts. About 15 years ago, 10% of steel in North American vehicles was tubular, while today the percentage has risen to over 16%. Tube hydroforming is steadily gaining in popularity because it lessens capital costs, reduces the number of parts needed, increases and improves structural strength of product, and offers flexibility and design quality that just does not come with welding and stamping techniques. A number of automobile industries have switched from stamping and welding to hydroforming because it is more cost-effective and creates more high-consistency parts.

For more information on tube hydroforming and hydroforming services, please contact us.

Hydroforming History

Hydroforming History

Recently, the Auto Tech Review acknowledged that without constant evolution in hydroform technology, the advancements enjoyed in the automotive world today just would not be possible:

The demand for weight reduction in modern vehicle construction has led to an increase in the application of hydroforming processes for the manufacture of automotive lightweight components. Hydroforming is a promising technology that has greater potential for automotive applications. (Auto Tech Review)

So when did the hydroforming history begin, let’s take a look.

Although it would be difficult to imagine where today’s automotive industry would be without hydroform, it must be remembered that the technique is relatively new. Based on a 1950s patent held by Fred Leuthesser, Jr. and John Fox of the Schaible Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, the process first came into its element in the 1970s when buoyed by aid of computer technology.

Originally used to produce stronger kitchen spouts, the process was eventually employed to produce bicycle parts, piping joints, as well as automotive components. Throughout the 80s and 90s, the process was adapted to produce even larger structural parts.

By the early years of the 21st century, the process of hydroforming had become well-known, and its application in the automotive world was widely acknowledged.

According to a Japanese study published in 2004 in the Nipon Steel Technical Report, the advantages to using hydroform over the traditional press forming had already become apparent and included the following:

  • Cost reduction
  • Weight reduction
  • Improvement of fatigue properties
  • Improvement of component strength
  • Simplification of work processes
  • Improvement of yield
  • Reduction of spring back
  • Capability of large deformation

To find out how the development of hydroforming technology can aid in the production of your product, please feel free to contact us.

Hydroformed Components

Hydroformed Components

What do a satellite antenna, an aluminum frame bicycle and the engine cradle of your neighbor’s motorcycle have in common? Chances are they were all made with hydroformed components.

From the medical industry to motorcycle manufacturers, the process of hydroforming offers many key advantages. To name a few, this superior fabricating and forming process allows:

  • Higher production efficiency
  • Elimination of welding
  • Creation of geometric shapes
  • Increased strength
  • Deeper draws
  • High quality surfaces
  • Tight tolerances
  • Low tooling costs
  • Elimination of draw marks

Take a cue from the automotive industry. The ever increasing demand for lighter weight components has just about necessitated the use of hydroformed components of countless automobiles. As a matter of fact, in 1997 Chevy used hydroformed components in the mass production of the Corvette. They’re not the only ones to reckognize a good thing when they see it. The high precision that can be accomplished with this technique is reflected in the use of hydroformed components in medical implantable devices, including some pacemakers. Even the music industry has benefited, as a well known saxophone maker uses a hydroformed brass tube in the popular instrument.

While it may seem at first glance that it’s just too good to be true, this technique was patented over 60 years ago and is still going strong. As it turns out, you can re-invent the wheel, and chances are the rim on the new one will have been hydroformed. Contact us to find out more about how to increase quality and strength while reducing costs.