What is hydroforming? Hydroforming is an innovative method of pressing metal into the desired shape. It produces results similar to cold forming, but instead of simply pressing the metal with a mold, it is pressed by liquid pressure. Let’s be more specific about how it works.
Cold forming presses room temperature metal between a solid mold. Hydroforming also presses metal at room temperature, but only the bottom half of the mold is present, underneath the raw metal. The unit closes, creating a water tight seal around the metal and the mold, and then forces liquid into the unit through a hydraulic pump. This forces the metal down into the mold. The liquid is then released, and the newly formed metal reclaimed.
Many common metals can successfully undergo this process, including copper, brass, stainless steel, and aluminum. This list is very similar to the metals that can be used with the traditional cold forming method. Hydroforming is used to make all sorts of metal products, including satellite antennas, a tube for saxophones, bicycle frames, automobiles, and residential lighting materials.
The hydroforming method is particularly attractive because it can often be completed at a lower cost per unit than many other methods, including stamping or even wielding. It can also produce a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio than many other methods. Hydroforming is also beneficial because only half of the die is required. Since the fluid acts as the other half, it’s only necessary to fabricate the bottom in most cases. This also makes it much easier to change the thickness of the metal because there is no need to change the die.
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