Monthly archive for October 2015

What is Hydroforming?

What is Hydroforming?

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.

Interested in learning more about Hydroforming and how it works?  Contact us.  We have all the answers, and we can help you with anything you need.

Though Struggles Exist, Hydroforming and Metal Stamping Thrive

Though Struggles Exist, Hydroforming and Metal Stamping Thrive

U.S. manufacturing in the new tech age has brought with it many advances for those involved in the industries of metal stamping and hydroforming.

However, at the same time, it has continued to hinder growth across many industries, even though the dollar is strong, and the cost of oil per barrel is low.

For example, in states where manufacturing is intrinsically linked to automotive industry (like Ohio), there has been a strong showing, perhaps because of the industries tendency to diversify.

In Cleveland, according to a recent news article related to Cleveland manufacturing, companies like TimkinSteel Corp. and City Plating have been steady on the rise over the last few years.

As TimkinSteel Corp. spokesman, Joe Milicia, said in an email:

“We are feeling the effects of a strong dollar and a U.S. rig count that’s down more than 50-percent.”

So while many industries (in every state — not just Ohio) can pinpoint successes and failures throughout the year, the truth is that not every company sees a strong dollar as a bounty for growth.

Is hydroforming different?

Yes. Absolutely, in fact.

For those in the metal stamping and hydroforming industries, opportunities are abound. From things like LED and solar manufacturing in Ohio to automotive and aerospace in the Midwest, metal stamping and hydroforming adapt and advance.

Which, as the numbers will attest, prove that business is booming, and growth this year will lend to additional growth in the following years.

By continuing to focus on high-growth markets, hydroforming and metal stamping thrive in spite of negative factors that pervade other industries.

One could say that, growth is a slow-grind, but as long as there is formidable planning and need, manufacturers in the hydroforming sectors are verging on recession-proof.

For more information on how we can help you, please contact us any time.

Tube Hydroforming Process Leads to Amazing Bicycles

Tube Hydroforming Process Leads to Amazing Bicycles

Though tube hydroforming has humble roots, it has taken those roots and firmly planted them in industry, design, and innovation.

For instance, take a look at how much innovation has gone into biking. Thanks to lightweight tube hydroforming, bicycles are more agile and lighter than all previous designs and models.

Mountain bikes are more popular than they ever have been before, thanks to tube hydroforming. They are also more sturdy than ever before, which is something that attracts manufacturers to the  tube hydroforming process when the design phase begins.

How does the process begin?

As with most design and industry, the process starts with an idea. From there, designers and engineers work hard on computers to formulate and adopt a plan. Then, after many more hours of time and research, the prototype is produced on a 3D CAD. Sometimes the initial design is worthy of the work, and other times it is scrapped and redone. Oftentimes, many mockups are worked through before the final selection is made.

What happens next?

In the case of mountain bikes, materials like aluminum are selected and reviewed. Then, as this article on a new mountain bike design points out, many things go into the final product:

[The process] combines several common aluminium construction types — hydroforming, taper butting, mechanical shaping, 3D forging, double-pass smooth welding, post-weld heat-treat — to tailor the ride quality as much as possible.

This type of design and scheme is virtually the same across all tube hydroforming development. It’s a labor-intensive process that yields some of most durable and lightest products available today.

For more information on the tube hydroforming process, please contact us anytime. Since 2003, American Hydroformers has been setting new standards in the hydroforming industry for tube hydroformed structures, parts, and components.