Hydroformed components play a major role in the design and production of automobiles. From headliners to hood seals and headlights, sheet and tube hydroforming are used in the manufacturing process for most car companies. Its lightweight design and inexpensive manufacturing cost keep hydroforming on the cutting edge and in the spotlight.
Here is a look at three cars that will be rolling off the assembly line next year, thanks in large part to hydroformed components.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: The much-anticipated SUV will feature hydroformed parts around every contour through a proprietary Pressure-Sequence Hydroforming technology. “Vari-Form technology stretches the limits of thin wall hydroforming,” said Vari-Form director of sales & engineering Doug Viohl. “Staying within finite tube thickness limits. I’m pleased to say this is something that competing hydroforming processes simply cannot do.”
The 2014 Mercedes Benz C-Class: The luxury sedan is set to be the nicest C-Class in recent history, and will feature “A curved high-pressure hydroformed tube and aluminium cast consoles with additional struts,” according to the press release. This new design has only ever been featured in Mercedes’ E-Class Cabriolet, a highly sought after luxury convertible.
The 2014 Corvette Stingray C7: The brand new (and newly designed) 2014 Corvette will feature a much improved, and lighter chassis made from hydroformed aluminum. “Engineers varied the gauge of the aluminum frame from 2mm to 11mm, depending on the location, so it not only dropped pounds, but also enhanced stiffness in specific areas.”
Hydroforming continues to be an innovator of design and a “go to” for the car industry due to its quick, easy and inexpensive concepts coupled with durability and reliability. Hydroforming is fast becoming essential and integral to manufacturers in all industries.
For more information on hydroforming feel free to contact us any time.
Hydroformed automotive parts are showing up on a lot of new car models – the Ford Fusion, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette and the Chevrolet Silverado, for example – but new cars are not the only vehicles sporting these superior hydroformed components, older models can enjoy the many benefits too.
A New York Times article describes how Jonathan Ward uses hydroformed components to restore and recreate classic cars and trucks. His goal is to retain the appeal of the design while improving the structural integrity. Ward accomplishes this many times by replacing orignal parts with hyrdroformed parts which can be custom-made to the exact specifactions needed. Ward credits this new technology with making it possible to custom-restore classic models.
“You couldn’t have done this 10 years ago,” he said, adding that laser scanning had made it possible to build just about any shape out of modern materials using hydroforming or an English wheel. “Once you can track and control forms, you can go back and recreate something.”
Hydroforming is a perfect partner for the automotive industry in creating lightweight, durable parts that are thinner yet stronger. Hydroforming allows for creating shapes and bends without the need for welded joints, leading to an overall sturdier construction. Using hydroformed components generally removes the need for heavy materials that can endure the stamping, welding, cleaning, etc. which add unnecessary weight to the vehicles, the lighter hydroformed components are generally stronger and much more efficient in the manufacturing process.
At American Hydroformers, we use the latest advances in hydroforming technology. We offer industrial laser cutting, stencil work and tube forming. Whether you’re restoring a classic car or need complete assembly level automotive part fabrication, we can help you find the right metal fabricating solution for your specific needs.
Contact us today for more information.
You might not know it, but you may have hydroforming to thank for the fact that you weren’t injured in your last fender-bender.
What is hydroforming?
Generally speaking, hydroforming is a technique whereby a high-pressure hydraulic fluid is used to push a ductile metal, like aluminum or stainless steel, into a solid piece that is stiff and structurally sound.
The fluid is either pushed directly against the metal (no-bladder hydroforming) or against an insulating bladder (bladder hydroforming or flexforming). The metal is, in turn, pushed against a negative mold. (A negative mold has the name it does because it’s the inverse of the desired shape, meaning the material pushed into it achieves the shape that is sought.)
Hydroforming is often used to make unibodies for vehicles and metal frames for bicycles. The reason we began this post with the comment about hydroforming and vehicles is that the automotive industry has been one of the chief beneficiaries of hydroforming’s ability to creative strong, solid pieces of shaped metal.
Hydroforming is praised for being more cost-efficient than other methods and it can be used to create pieces that are too complex for simple die casting. Furthermore, hydroforming can actually be quite simple in terms of the infrastructure required.
If you are interested in learning more about hydroforming in general or about American Hydroformers specifically, please contact us at any time or visit our website for more information. We are always happy to help prospective new clients understand why we may be the best fit for them.
Hard on the heels of the announcement that General Motors has opened a new metal stamping plant in Arlington, Texas, comes further information regarding how the opening of this new plant has impacted the overall economics of automobile production.
According to the Wall Street Journal, with the decision to open a metal stamping plant right next door to its assembly line, GM not only shortens its supply chain and saves money in shipping, but it also puts added pressure on its competitor Ford to keep up with the resultant boost in output.
“We want to be ruthless about waste. Whether it is a part design, packaging or shipping, we don’t want it,” GM purchasing chief Grace Lieblein told the [Wall Street Journal]. “It may be a few thousand save here or few million saved there but it adds up.” (Metal Miner)
But the effects of this move could be much more far-reaching.
With auto makers around the world still refining the same basic mass-production techniques pioneered one hundred years ago by Henry Ford, competition to develop the best and most efficient manufacturing and assembly techniques is strong.
With GM moving its metal stamping closer to its assembly plant, Ford compensates with “advanced manufacturing technologies [that] include lower-cost, faster stamping processes that reduce the time it takes to produce sheet-metal parts. It also uses three-dimensional drawings to create prototypes of components that can be tested in days rather than months.”
With metal stamping and hydroforming both integral components in automotive production, it will be fascinating in the days to come to watch market forces drive further development in these technologies.
For more information on further developments in metal stamping and hydroforming, please feel free to contact us.