Monthly archive for January 2014

7 Benefits of Hydroforming

7 Benefits of Hydroforming

A cost-effective way of forming certain metals into strong lightweight structures is by hydroforming. This can be done with aluminum, brass, low alloy steels and stainless steel.

Starting with a blank metal tube the tube expands into the desired shape when placed in a customized tool specifically designed for this purpose. The tool closes around the tube and the hydraulic rams are used to seal off the ends while water is forced into the interior of the tube.  You can see an animated hydroforming process here on this page, what is hydroforming.

When the required water pressure is reached the metal transforms into the shape of the mold. At the same time the hydraulic rams are computer-driven to each end of the tube so smooth, thick walls are formed as the metal expands turning it into attractive, repeatable shapes.Once the water is disposed of and the part removed the system moves on to the next blank tube.

Seven main benefits of hydroforming:

1. Much fewer welds are required

Previously, if wanted to transform metal into different shapes a lot of individual sections had to be welded together but hydroforming enables the metal tube to be turned into long, complex shapes with a reduced number of welds that reduces resistance and improves the efficiency of the airflow.

2. Few Steps in the Process

The whole process can be done in a much quicker time, often taking as little as 20 seconds for loading the blank tube to unloading the finished product. This is because many parts of the exhaust chain can be combined into one seamless assembly.

3. Remarkable Precision

The in-feeding of the material is accurately controlled by the computer while the metal is under high pressure inside the tool up to within 10 thousandths of an inch. This will be from 25,000 to 30,000psi.

4. Waste Reduction

By repeating the process you eliminate wastage from dented or accidentally bent parts and less material is needed due to the consolidation of the sections into one assembly.

5. Weight Reduction

Hydroforming produces lighter products as the required stiffness can be achieved using thinner walls. In previous processes this was not possible.

6. Form More Complex Shapes

Complex shapes can be achieved from pre-bent tubes by hydroforming and they can even have inlet and outlet openings incorporated.

7. Reduced Tool Costs

The number of tools can be reduced drastically due to fewer sections and the elimination of the burring and punching processes.

To get more information on hydroforming, contact us.

What is Tube Hydroforming?

What is Tube Hydroforming?

Often, when it comes to discussing what we do, the very first question asked is: What is tube hydroforming? The simplest answer is that hydroforming is a way to shape metal. This cost-effective process is used on metals such as aluminum, steel, stainless steel, copper and brass.

Hydroforming is a common application in the automotive industry, where it can produce stronger structures for vehicles such as engine cradles, suspension and radiator supports. Other examples of items that can be produced by hydroforming include kitchen spouts — which were the original intention of sheet hydroforming — as well as satellite antennas, saxaphone tubes and bicycle frames.

Before the process of hydroforming was developed, items were made by forming two halves and then welding them together. By using die molding and highly pressurized fluid to form metal, hydroforming eliminates the inefficiency of welded pieces and allows for more complex shapes and contours of the metal.

There are two types of hydroforming: sheet hydroforming and tube hydroforming. Sheet hydroforming uses one die and a sheet of metal, while tube hydroforming involves the expansion of metal tubes into a shape using two die halves which contain the raw metal tube.

Specializing in tube hydroforming, American Hydroformers has a high pressure hydroforming press system that provides higher efficiency and versatility with parts that have complex geometries or extensive secondary operations. We work with a number of industries, including automotive, appliance, diesel exhaust and plumbing. We also offer complete assembly level fabrication of automotive structures, industrial laser cutting and stencil work. For more information on our services, contact us.

Innovative Uses of Sheet Hydroforming

Innovative Uses of Sheet Hydroforming

Most consumers are already fairly well aware that one of the most common applications of sheet hydroforming is found in the automotive sector. For years, auto makers have taken advantage of hydroforming techniques to make their models faster, lighter, and more attractive.

Take, for example, the Lincoln MKC, displayed at the 2013 LA Auto Show. One of the MKC’s selling points is, in fact, a product of sheet hydroforming: a completely seamless liftgate.

Instead of punching the sheet metal between two large dies, the sheet is formed around a die using a liquid-filled bladder. By taking away the seams from the rear of the vehicle, it creates an incredibly clean and strong design, while also simplifying assembly. (Auto123.com)

Such innovations in the automotive world involving hydroforming have become commonplace, however.

What may come as more of a surprise would be the recent application of hydroforming to develop Gramovox’s classy Bluetooth gramophone. Built in the shape of a retro gramophone horn, this wireless speaker adds a sense of whimsy to any and all musical styles with the added bonus of a vintage sound produced combining both classic 1920s techniques with modern-day developments, “with the cone spun on a lathe and the neck hydroformed out of metal sheets. The two parts will then be hand welded together” (cnet.com)

With the project to produce these little beauties still seeking support through Kickstarter, it seems unlikely that consumers will see these readily available any time soon; however, it is fascinating to see how blending modern hydroforming techniques with creativity can bring about truly fascinating and useful products.

For more on the unique uses of hydroforming, sheet hydroforming or metal fabrication in general, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to working together with you.

The History of Hydroforming in the U.S.

The History of Hydroforming in the U.S.

Hydroforming is defined as the process in which metal is shaped using fluid dynamics. The result is lightweight, structurally strong, stiff pieces of the original metal. Metals that can be hydroformed include, but are not limited to brass, stainless steel, low-alloy steel, and aluminum.

Hydroforming became popular in the early 1900s as the automotive industry began to take hold in the United States. The process allowed automotive manufacturers a more desirable alternative to casting using die sets. Die-set part manufacturing required more finishing work and produced less structurally sound parts due to metal stretch and excessive handling.

Hydroforming tools were born as a result of the arduous research and development of the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company founded by Geiger and Holtz in 1889. By the 1930s, the Cincinnati Milling Company was the main supplier of metal forming machines in the U.S. and Europe. As the demand for shaped metal parts increased, the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company began the process of developing deep draw forming techniques using lighting reflectors and gear case covers.

The company was transformed in 1956 to Cincinnati Milacron and research and development of the hydroforming process accelerated. This allowed more advanced forms of hydroforming to begin to take shape. As a result, the old style of deep draw became obsolete and more modern hydroforming techniques began to take the helm. By the 1970s, Hydroforming was officially out of its fledgling stages. These hydroforming machines reduced the need for excessive metal part finishing, which in turn reduced the turn over time for parts, increased efficiency, and reduced the workforce needed to produce quality product.

American Hydroformers has effectively mastered the tubular hydroforming process, supplying multiple industries with high quality hydroformed parts. For over ten years we have continued to raised the bar, producing the most durable, uniquely crafted, and versatile hydroformed parts on the market. For more information on how our expertise, please contact us.

Hydroforming Makes Offshore Wells Safer?

Hydroforming Makes Offshore Wells Safer?

From durable auto bodies to high-tech bicycle components, the hydroforming process is well-known for breaking technological barriers on land.  Now, engineers in the offshore oil and gas industry are looking to hydroforming for inspiration in improving well safety.

In the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster, increased regulatory scrutiny is being turned on the offshore oil and gas industry.  The integrity of wells underwater, where maintenance is difficult and pressure is immense, is of particular importance to both the environment and regulatory agencies.  At the same time, increased demand means that underwater wells are becoming increasingly vital for petroleum production worldwide.

Faced with an urgent need for increased well safety, petroleum engineers have found a solution in the process of hydroforming.  Taking advantage of the natural hydraulic pressure at the sites of deepwater rigs, oil and gas engineers have developed a process called Metalmorphology.  Inspired by hydroforming, metalmorphology allows engineers to form metal components after the metal has already been inserted downhole.  The pieces can be formed with an astounding 100% conformance rate, making it much easier to prevent the release of environmentally harmful chemicals from undersea oil  and gas wells.

As hydroforming processes develop, the possibilities for their application continue to expand in exciting new directions.  American Hydroformers is dedicated to using the most advanced hydroforming technology available to make the manufacturing process more efficient.  Feel free to contact us and find out how our hydroforming expertise and cutting-edge methods can provide you with a structurally superior, economically-produced product.