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The art and the ingenuity of hydroforming

The art and the ingenuity of hydroforming

Hydroforming is not only a cost effective metal fabrication and forming process when compared to traditional stamped and welded parts, but it can also be a bit of art and ingenuity. Virtually all metals can be hydroformed, including steel, aluminum, brass, copper, stainless steel and alloys. The process, when used on upscale appliance handles, creates a sleek and custom look that is making it popular among today’s designers. It is also readily accepted in the manufacturing of kitchen faucets and bath fixtures as it provides the ability to create truly custom shapes.

In addition to producing aesthetically pleasing products, the process of  hydroforming makes stronger, stiffer, lighter automobile frames that provide the fuel efficiency that new federal standards are calling for. The strength and lightweight nature of frames designed in this way is the reason that makers of high performance race cars have long relied on tubular frame construction. Automobile designers have found the process useful in the manufacture of engine cradles, trailing suspension arms, radiator supports and many other parts. Beyond automobiles, the lighter and stronger nature of the material is also attractive to the makers of bicycles.

American Hydroformers was formed in 2003 and specializes in the tube hydroforming process, which is the most common of the hydroforming processes and involves the expansion of metal tubing into a shape using two die halves. This method creates seamless and a high-quality finished surface.

For more information about our hydroforming process and our other services, including industrial laser cutting and stencil work, contact us today.

High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

With the use of hydroformed parts becoming increasingly common in the automotive and cycling worlds, many people are now more aware of the process used to shape ductile metals into pieces that are both lightweight and strong. But while awareness of the hydroforming process has been on the rise, fewer people know of the high-temperature metal gas forming process and its benefits.

For high-temperature metal gas forming, there are four basic stages. While they are similar to those of hydroforming, there are several distinct differences which set the process apart.

The Four Stages of High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

First, the blank is placed into the die and the ends are sealed. After this is done, the tube is pressurized. Then the docking rods then feed the material into the die, where the combination of internal pressure and simultaneous material feeding forms the tube.

Doesn’t seem too different from basic hydroforming, you might say. An understandable observation, but allow us to point out the main forming difference: the part formed at the superplastic temperature conforms precisely to the dimensions of the die.

The Benefits of High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

While quite similar to hydroforming in process in its steps, this technique allows for higher precision and yield. This in turn not only saves the industries that use it time and money, but it also produces a quality product that is that much more effective for the consumer.

In conclusion, although this process is less well-known, it is certainly no less important. Because of it, we have more better-quality sporting equipment, more advanced technologies in the aerospace and automotive industries, and (perhaps more importantly to some of us) better-working indoor plumbing.

For more information on hydroforming, the benefits of high-temperature metal gas forming, or anything else, please feel free to contact us.

Hydroforming Aluminum Can Help Reduce Weight Of Components

Hydroforming Aluminum Can Help Reduce Weight Of Components

Hydroforming is a method that shapes metal into strong pieces that are also light, in regards to the weight. There are many different industries that use hydroforming. However, the vehicle industry is probably one of the largest applicators of hydroforming. The method has mostly been popular among the production of cars that are known as the “high-end” cars. One of the materials that is frequently used is aluminium.

Previously, there was a focus on traditional stamping and parts that were welded. Hydroforming has certainly emerged into a practical method of manufacturing because of the need to lower the weight of the different components. There has also been a transition of steel to aluminum. Aluminum is making outstanding progress in the industry. When hydroforming aluminum you will receive an even, nice-looking finish that will not need any extra additions or tooling. You will receive the nice finish because the female die gets replaced by a diaphragm made of rubber.

The fluid in the hydraulic is pumped into a component at a very high pressure, and the aluminum is molded into a shape very evenly. The result will be a distinctive shape that has a thickness in the material. Hydroforming aluminum sheets can be a bit challenging sometimes because all of the shapes will not always be symmetrical and regularly shaped.

Some people may want to try cold-forming, but not every cold-forming method will have the necessities to handle all of the tough demands. Since there are some tough aluminum parts that will need plenty of work to form, hydroforming will be the best answer. The hydroforming methods for the different shaped aluminum parts will not cost as much as other methods, like cold-forming.

We certainly understand how several needs are unique. We also understand how important it is to save time and money when it comes to the process of hydroforming aluminum.

Contact us for more information on the benefits of hydroforming aluminum.

What is Hydroforming

What is Hydroforming

Every time you drive a motor vehicle, fly in an airplane or ride a bicycle, hydroforming was likely used as part of their manufacture. Hydroforming provides a number of advantages when compared to other alternative methods of metal shaping. By learning more about what is hydroforming, understanding the significance of this process in our daily life should be possible.

The Standard Concept

Aluminum is a malleable material that is often molded using hydroforming. Two processes can be used during the hydroforming process for manipulation. The first is using high pressure hydraulic fluid to produce a certain shape with the metal. The metal (typically a flat sheet) is placed inside a container with a mold. The container is sealed off and hydraulic fluid injected until a certain pressure is achieved. This pressure causes the metal to mold to the shape of the dye. A variation of this concept involves the manipulation of a hollow tube of metal. The hollow tube is placed inside of a negative mold and fluid is injected into the inside of the tube, causing it to expand into the shape of the mold.

Low Pressure Versus High Pressure Tube Hydroforming

In tube hydroforming, two methods are typically used. The only difference between the two are the pressures used and when they are applied. In high pressure hydroforming, the tube is exposed to high pressures (typically between 1500 and 2000 bars) only after being closed in the dye of the hydraulic press. In low pressure hydroforming, the tube is exposed to a low pressure of between 120-180 bars before being closed in the dye of the hydraulic press. According to Metal Working World Magazine, “The material does not collapse, taking the die shape, but simply it is uniformly stretched (thus avoiding the corrugations of the inner surface that are instead frequently present in the high pressure method), like in a pre-forming process.”

Be sure to contact us at American Hydroformers if you have any questions about what is hydroforming.

Beneficial Complexity: Finite Element Analysis

Beneficial Complexity: Finite Element Analysis

The use of FEA or Finite Element Analysis further advances the hydroforming industry by eliminating the impediments of inefficiency and expense.

Finite Element Analysis  is a method using numerical techniques of calculus variations to solve boundary value problems. This process uses computer model designs to connect elemental equations over sub domains to approximate the values over larger regions. The models are then stressed and analyzed to decipher the correct procedure in manufacturing the product.

Not only does FEA allow for new designs to be created without the prospect of a test failure, but it can also enhance the design of pre-existing products.

With the use of the FEA method, the hydroforming industry can further advance production by expediting procedures with fewer miscalculations. The finite element designs optimize the control process of parameter by selecting the correct calculation to prevent excessive thinning or premature wrinkling. Overall, the process minimizes error function and produces a stable solution. This allows for larger tube expansion in the dual hydroforming process.

With greater sensitivity analysis, the FEA method facilitates the precise design of both die shapes and die geometrics. By controlling the parameters through mathematical calculations, the overall forming procedures become more accurate. The hydroforming process is complex in itself and numerous factors have to be calculated accurately to construct a working product. Determining a forming window can be experimental through trial and error which is both less effective and more expensive.

Shabbir Memom writes,“In order to have a successful hydroforming process, it is imperative to optimize the process parameters such as loading path and feed rate along with friction and keep it within the range of forming window.”

He goes on to discus that without facilitating the finite element analysis methods, some hydroforming designs would be impossible.

For more information on the advancement of FEA methods within the hydroforming industry, please feel free to contact us.

American Hydroformers Explains How Internal High Pressure Hydroforming Works

American Hydroformers Explains How Internal High Pressure Hydroforming Works

American Hydroformers is on the cutting edge of production technology. We offer many services, including metal fabrication solutions through the use of hydroforming, laser cutting, and several other forming techniques.

But perhaps the technique that garners the most interest is how our internal high pressure hydroforming press system works, and why it is so widely sought after.

Hydroforming (or internal high pressure forming) is a forming process by which an active solution (often a water and oil emulsion) forces a hollow part into a desired shape by applying a variable amount internal pressure that depends largely upon the density of the material (click here to watch a clip). And at its peak, the pressure can reach several thousand bars.

The advantages of this technique are many (especially compared to deep draw hydroforming), but most apparent are:

– Large design ratio

– Reduction of overall parts

– Lowered amount of weld-spots or connections

– Reduction of material weight

– Higher ductile and mechanical strength

– More durable

– Increased forming accuracy

Because of these positives, high pressure hydroforming has becoming a superior technique in many industrial sectors (most notably, automobile manufacturers). But has branched out to many others, including plumbing and heating, household appliances, furniture, bicycle frame manufacturing, machines and equipment, and even aerospace and aviation.

However, hydroforming stands out the most in the automobile industry, because of widely used parts for the chassis, motor, crossbeams, side beams, and roof frames, throughout the industry.

Additionally, hydroforming gives automakers the freedom of design, so that they can make lighter and faster cars that appeal to a broader group of people, while remaining relatively inexpensive in terms of production.

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

CAFE Standards to Increase Fuel Savings

CAFE Standards to Increase Fuel Savings

CAFE standard is not a recipe for an espresso macchiato – even if that is your favorite drink. It is, however, the industry standard for keeping your espresso macchiato affordable by producing lighter vehicles that increase the average fuel economy. Better fuel economy = less expense on transport = affordable espresso macchiato…ya dig?

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (aka, CAFE) is a government regulated and enforced standard for all cars and light trucks sold in the United States. Vehicles that do not match their “footprint” to the CAFE standard are penalized with higher taxes, and the owners of those vehicles are penalized at the pump. The average fuel economy in the 1970’s when the CAFE standard was first enacted was slightly less than 19 mpg (!) while today, most mid-sized passenger cars are expected to meet a minimum fuel economy of 35.2 mpg or better. (1)

But the CAFE standard is not just looking at miles per gallon, it was also enacted to encourage continual improvement in fuel economy and vehicle efficiency. CAFE is monitored by multiple government agencies and overseen by the U.S. Congress.

“U.S. Congress specifies that CAFE standards must be set at the “maximum feasible level” given consideration for:

  1. technological feasibility;
  2. economic practicality;
  3. effect of other standards on fuel economy;
  4. need of the nation to conserve energy.” (2)

That is where American Hydroformers and the CAFE standard go hand in hand. It is our mission at American Hydroformers to continually improve our manufacturing processes utilizing tube hydroforming that produces lighter parts for lighter vehicles. Our revolutionary hydroforming process is the most viable solution for the future of parts manufacturing, making lighter parts for lighter cars, ultimately setting higher industry standards for fuel economy.

Contact us to see what American Hydroforming can do for your manufacturing today!

(1) Corporate Average Fuel Economy, Wikipedia, July 22, 2014.

(2) ibid

Hydroforming Versus Stamping

Hydroforming Versus Stamping

Hydroforming versus Stamping?  That is the question.

Metal stamping has been used in the production of consumer goods and products for a very long time. Some even believe that the history of metal stamping can be traced back to blacksmithing, tinsmithing, silversmithing, and so on. It’s a venerable, old method that deserves it place in history but is being outpaced rapidly by hydroforming.

Sheet metal hydroforming (and especially the deep draw and tubular techniques), as a means of manufacturing complex-shaped load-bearing parts, is relatively new by comparison. But as noted, is quickly becoming the chosen manufacturing staple of many industries for several specific parts, including the automobile, plumbing, and appliance.

The Manufacturing Process: Metal Stamping

Each item in the process is stamped out from a blank, using mechanical or hydraulic stamping lines, with a production rate of about 500 pieces an hour. Then, each component goes through the process of blanking, trimming, and forming of the die, which leaves an overall scrap waste of about 20 percent. Then finally, is ready for assembly by MIG or spot welding. The entire process takes about 60 hours per assembly.

The Manufacturing Process: Hydroforming

The same product going through the hydroforming process is started from a rolled tubular section. Which typically comes pre-cut to the desired length and end-cut for each component. Next, a computer numerically controlled (CNC) begins bending the tubes into the desired shape, which is then hydroformed by a hydraulic press. The component is then removed from the press, and trimmed if necessary (usually less than 10 percent waste, sometimes zero).

Overall Winner: Hydroforming

While metal stamping has many positives, and still has a place in production, the advantages of hydroforming are numerous, including:

  • Weight reduction
  • Part reduction
  • Cost-effective assembly and component costs
  • Cost-effective tooling costs
  • Greater strength (stiffness; rigidity)
  • Great dimensional (geometric) stability

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

Hydroforming DP 780 Steel Tubes

Hydroforming DP 780 Steel Tubes

The advancement in high strength steel can be seen by the use of hydroforming DP 780 Steel tubes . It provides an innovative technology that can not only lower the cost of steel frame fabrication, but also optimize industrial use. When the DP 780 tubes are hydroformed, they provide a lighter but stronger steel frame.

Below are the results according to an article explaining the strength of internal pressure for the end feed (EF) of hydroformed DP 780 tubes.

  • At zero  EF the average pressure burst was 70 MPa or 10,075psi
  • With an EF of 50%, the hydroformed DP 780 tubes could withstand an internal pressure of 151.7 MPa or 22,000psi

The dimensional capability of this steel will be the future in our automotive industry. The design flexibility along with the lower cost and increased strength using the hydroformed DP 780 tubing allows for improvement in crash-worthiness among motor vehicles.

In 2013 Ford introduced its new Ford Fusion vehicle featuring hydrofromed DP 780 tubes used for its B-pillar and A-pillar roof rails.  Ford’s technical leader, Shawn Morgan quotes from an article found in SAE international,

“Using hydroforming instead of hot-stamped welded sheet to create the     car’s roof-pillar structure reduced mass, saved cost, reduced the bill of     material, and helped improve the new Fusion’s crash performance.”

Environmentalists will also approve of this new found technology. The use of dual phase steel provides not only a stronger and lighter means of transportation, but also decreases the amount of carbon dioxide emission given off by those vehicles. The use of hydroforming the stronger, more versatile DP 780 tubes does so without sacrificing the passengers safety if an accident were to occur.

For more information on hydroforming DP 780 steel or it’s usage please contact us.

Deep Draw Hydroforming Process

Deep Draw Hydroforming Process

What is Sheet Metal Hydroforming?

Sheet metal hydroforming is a metal forming process that is achieved by applying force to sheet metal to alter its overall geometric shape as opposed to added or subtracting any materials. The applied force used in production alters the sheet metal’s yield strength, causing the metal to bend but not to cause failure. Sheet metal can be bent into many complex shapes by using this process.

A great example of how some sheet  hydroformers uses this deep draw hydroforming technique is below.

Deep Drawing

Deep draw hydroforming is a process of sheet metal hydroforming similar to most techniques, but differs in execution. Sheet metal is stretched and bent into a desired shape. This is done when a tool pushes down onto sheet metal, forcing it into a die cavity in a pre-set shape. The tensile force causes the metal to form into a cup shape.

The deep drawing process begins with a blank, a blank holder, a punch, and a die. The blank, or piece of sheet metal, is placed into the blank holder over top of the die. The cavity of which is the shape of the desired part. Then, a tool called a punch moves downward onto the blank and “draws,” or bends/stretches the part into the desired shape, but does not alter its strength.

The parts can have a variety of cross sections, and can have straight, tapered, or even curved walls, but the most common shapes are cylinders and rectangles. The deep draw process is most commonly used with ductile metals like aluminum, copper, and a mild steel. Some examples of deep draw parts are automotive bodies/frames, fuel tanks, cans, cups, kitchen sinks, and pots and pans.

For additional information on how we can help you contact us any time.