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American Hydroformers Laser Cutting Applications

American Hydroformers Laser Cutting Applications

In terms of material processing here at American Hydroformers, laser cutting is one of the many applications in use. It allows us to quickly and easily cut flat-sheet material in addition to piping and structural materials.

Because laser cutting is one of the most a state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies used in industrial metal forming techniques, we can achieve a high-quality surface finish that is unmatched by other cutting techniques.

Type of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting can be broken into three types, two of which work the same:

  • CO2 lasers, like fast axial flow, slow axial flow, transverse flow, and slab. This type of laser cutting is normally used in boring, engraving, and straight cutting. CO2 lasers work when electric is “pumped” through a gas mix or radio frequency (DF-excited and RF-excited, respectively).
  • Neodymium (Nd) and neodymium yttrium-aluminium-garnet (Nd-YAG) lasers, which are similar in style, but differ in overall application. Nd is mostly used for boring because of its high energy and its low rate of repetition. Whereas the Nd-YAG laser is used when a very-high power is needed. Both can also be used in welding.

Laser Cutting Advantages

The advantages to laser cutting versus something like plasma cutting are numerous. They include:

  • Reduced contamination of workpieces due to a lack of a cutting edge which, in turn, has the potential to become contaminated by the material it’s cutting.
  • Increased precision because a laser beam can not wear.
  • Because lasers have a lower “heat-affected zone,” the chance of warping the material is lessened dramatically.
  • The ability to cut materials with precision that may not have been able to cut previously due to their hardness and thickness.

Currently, AHI emplyes 3 different laser cells.  We operate 2 3-dimensional 5-axis lasers and one Trumpf sheet laser cutter.

For more information on hydroforming, laser cutting, and other metal fabricating solutions, please contact us any time.

New Vehicles That Have Benefited from Hydroforming

New Vehicles That Have Benefited from Hydroforming

By now, you know that hydroforming is one of the most innovative and ground-breaking methods used to manufacture. Its meteoric rise to greatness has been documented by its progress to redefine how industries from all over the world produce. Something that can be seen most obviously in the automobile industry, where the hydroforming of parts has revolutionized everything from headliners to frames.

So in light of all of the modern uses of hydroforming, we thought we’d show you a few new vehicles that have benefited from hydroformed parts across the world.

2014 GMC Sierra HD: As GMC’s now “broadest truck,” engineers redesigned the Sierra HD with a huge, road-hugging wheelbase, wider front and rear tracks, and a powerful Vortec 6.0L V8 engine. But most impressive to us is the frame. The rigid design and use of high strength steel and a hydroformed front section for added lightness, makes the Sierra first in its class in towing capacity.

2015 Ford F-150: Not to be outdone by General Motors, Ford’s new F-150 aims to overtake the light truck industry by featuring, perhaps, the lightest constructed frame and body ever. Here’s how: the body, aluminum (first of its kind); parts of the frame, hydroformed for weight reduction. The new F-150 is still in pre-production, but engineers say there should be no delay on its release.

Ferrari LaFerrari F-12: For your hypercar enthusiasts, the latest from Ferrari offers throttle beyond your dreams: 950 horsepower. Oh, and the thing we’re proud of most, a hydroformed exhaust. A feature that no doubt gives the Italian hypercar less weight to contend with as it hurls itself around a track at 120 mph. Or as one writer said:

The noise, the excitement, the sheer, blistering speed, the spread of ability in being so usable on the road and such a missile on track. The LaFerrari is a triumph.

And hydroforming played a part.

For more information on hydroforming, and how we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time.

American Hydroformers, Inc. tube hydroforming process to be Featured on “How It’s Made”

American Hydroformers, Inc. tube hydroforming process to be Featured on “How It’s Made”

American Hydroformers, in conjunction with the film crew from the Discovery Channel’s popular “How It’s Made” television program, recently wrapped up filming a segment at their Fort Wayne, Indiana facilities featuring the tube hydroforming process. The company and its hydroforming facilities will be featured on an upcoming episode of the Discovery Channels documentary television series “How It’s Made.” The segment will provide a compelling and comprehensive behind the scenes look at the tube hydroforming process. Viewers will be given the opportunity to see the hydroforming process for themselves as well as learn more information about the industry in general. The show will offer a step by step demonstration of the tube hydroforming process as well as an explanation of its uses and current industry examples. This informative segment will air in 2014 on the Science Channel/Discovery Channel.

American Hydroformers provides metal fabricating solutions using the most advanced hydroforming processes available. Our manufacturing expertise includes hydroforming, hydraulic press work, laser cutting and various other metal forming techniques.
American Hydroformers’ internal high pressure hydroforming press system is more efficient and versatile for parts with complex geometries and extensive secondary operations than traditional manufacturing methods. In addition to hydroformed components, we offer complete assembly level fabrication of automotive structures, industrial laser cutting and stencil work, as well as tube forming.

The Discovery Channels “How It’s Made” is a documentary television program that presents behind the scene perspective from factories and manufacturing facilities from around the world. The program demonstrates how raw materials and supplies are transformed into everyday objects. Shows range from typical household items to more complex manufacturing processes.

Hydroforming Telescopic Optical Mirrors

Hydroforming Telescopic Optical Mirrors

Hydroforming has changed how multiple industries across the globe function, produce products, and achieve at business. So its no stranger to being on the cutting edge.

But now the seminole, innovative technique has its eyes set high to the sky thanks to a French astrophysics lab and public institution Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM), and a piece of MSC analysis software called Marc Nonlinear FEA that will help scientists study hydroforming telescopic optical mirrors.

“Hydroformed mirrors are key to the future of astronomical telescopes,” says the article describing the process. Describing how the conventional process for telescopic mirror design typically used diamond point turning, which ends up being costly and extremely time-consuming.

But in order to achieve the the parabolas and hyperbolas that populate telescopic mirrors shapes, the CNRS-LAM has turned to hydroforming as a means of producing the instruments needed to peer into the vastness of space.

The process uses a 10 MPa clamp, a mold, and fluid at a high pressure (45 MPa). The fluid applies force to the optical surface to deform the mirror into its final form.

Because of hydroforming, the mirror’s surface remains untouched from conventional production tools, thus rendering it nearly perfect in shape and a much higher quality overall, which allow for a greater degrees of freedom, improved observable performance, and reduction of the mass and size of the finished and used product.

There is also a huge reduction in the cost of production as well, in addition to dramatically cutting down the time it normally takes to make just one lense. This allows for funds to be spent elsewhere, and gives the institution more time to focus on other tasks.

But the process isn’t complete without the software that allows scientists to see usually unobservable specifics. Because as the mirrors plastic deforms, the process becomes more difficult to optimize. So as part of the solution to make the process viable, scientists at CNRS-LAM are using Marc FEA analysis software to help eliminate errors and perfect the process.

According to CNRS-LAM’s, Zalpha Challita,

We selected Marc to analyze the hydroforming process because [is] has demonstrated the ability to provide accurate results, [it has] demonstrated the ability to accurately model the hydroforming process and will be used extensively going forward.

The innovative blend of hydroforming plastic and computer software will continue to be used for producing optical mirrors for astronomical instrumentation for long into the future.

LAM is one of the leading astrophysics research facilities in Europe, and one of its fundamental research areas is the instrumentation needed for astrophysics research.

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

Tube Hydroforming Continues to Pioneer in Auto Manufacturing

Tube Hydroforming Continues to Pioneer in Auto Manufacturing

Tube hydroforming is continuing to be the lead manufacturer in parts for the automobile and bicycling industry, and it appears as if newly designed models for the 2015 line won’t be any different.

Because sheet and tube hydroformed parts are tensile, durable, and easy to produce, they have become a mainstay component in from everything in the automobile industry from the chassis, to headliners, to headlights, and more.

But more surprisingly, in the last few years, the bicycling industry has realized the potential for tube hydroformed frames because of their light-weight, all-in-one design that makes them perfect for all frame types, riding events, and cyclists.

So it is no wonder that when a car manufacturer like BMW realizes the potential in quality design and technique that they get in on the bicycle game. Which, according to their blog, is an entire line of bikes featuring hydroformed frames, in what they refer to as “clear-cut design meets pioneering technology.”

BMW is set to launch its latest generation of bikes in spring 2014. Like all vehicles produced by the BMW Group, the 2014 bicycle collection meets top standards in quality and design.

Featuring what BMW calls the “bull neck,” a one-of-a-kind frame design that would have never been possible before hydroforming because of excess weight from such a large form that would have burdened the bike and the rider.

As well as a “hydroformed frame [that] is robust and light, guaranteeing optimal efficiency by ensuring maximum power transfer with minimum effort,” that would not have been possible without hydroforming.

Hydroforming is leading the charge once again, and it’s only a matter of time that hydroformed parts begin to find homes in other industries that are looking for a cost-effective and waste-reductive process that yields quality parts that outlast many of its competitors. The future is bright for pioneers.

For more information on tube hydroforming, please contact us any time.

5 Reasons Why Tube Hydroforming is the Future

5 Reasons Why Tube Hydroforming is the Future

Though it is a relative newcomer, when compared side-by-side with the conventional process of stamping, tube hydroforming is quickly becoming a formidable technique for the automotive industry’s various uses and applications, among others.

But what is it about tube hydroforming that makes its quality superior to older techniques? The answer is in 5 aspects:

1. Stronger Result

After the production process is complete, a tube-shaped hydro formed part can support more weight, especially when compared to metal stamped parts. This remains true even when metal stamped parts are welded together in tube shapes. Further, less welds means a sturdier product that is less likely to fail under stress and pressure.

2. Weight Reduction

The finished tube hydroformed part or component weighs significantly less than its metal stamped counterparts. This makes it a prime candidate for industries (like the automobile industry) who seek fabrications that result in a product with a less density.

3. Cost-Effective

Tube hydroformed products cost less overall by comparison as well. Not just in terms of what its material consists of, but also in regards to how much scrap waste it creates, and manpower it takes to manufacture a hydroformed part. This cost is passed on to all parties involved in the hydroformed process.

4. Becoming Widely Used

While it is certain that the automobile industry has taken a tight hold upon tube hydroforming, it’s uses and benefits have been adapted in many markets and in multiple industries. Of late, bicycle manufacturing has picked up on the positive results from tube hydroforming, and have been producing lighter and stronger bicycles for use in leisure activities, and professional ventures.

5. The Future is Hydroforming

Over the last 15 years, tube hydroforming has gone from a relatively unknown fabrication process relegated to a small sector of manufacturers, to an engineering and a developing dream with wide variants and even wider uses. The limits of tube hydroforming have been pushed far past that of older techniques, like metal stamping, and continue to be used in new and exciting ways that many thought were not possible.

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

History and Processes of Tube Hydroforming

History and Processes of Tube Hydroforming

Hydroforming has been one of the most cost effective methods of forming and shaping metals for decades. Several variations of hydroforming methods have come about over the years, each serving a different purpose.

In tube hydroforming, there are two widely recognized practices; high pressure and low pressure. During the high pressure process, the tube to be shaped is enclosed in a die before pressurization begins. Previously known as the Variform process, the low pressure method starts by the tube being pressurized to a pre-determined volume during the closing of the die. The tube is held in place and sealed at both ends by axial punches. The axials on both sides are moveable, this movement being required in the process to provide axial compression, and to feed material towards the center of the tube. In both methods, hydrolic fluid is pushed into the tube through one of the punches, increasing the pressure within until the tube expands outwards and the desired shape is reached.

Historically, the tube hydroforming process was patented in the 50’s. However, it wasn’t until the 70’s that the process was widely used in an industrial scale. Back then, it was used for the production of large T-shaped joints for the oil and gas industry. Today, tube hydroforming is an important part in the automotive industry where many important applications can be found. Tube hydroforming is also the method of choice for the tubular bodies of bicycles, and the various components of motorcycles.

Since its inception in the 50’s tube hydroforming has been an essential part of the manufacturing industry. If you would like to know more about hydroforming and it’s variations, feel free to visit our website or contact us.

Tube Hydroforming Is the Future for the Automobile Industry

Tube Hydroforming Is the Future for the Automobile Industry

With a growing demand for light-weight materials that still support variable weight-distribution, tube hydroforming is becoming a leader in the automobile manufacturing industry.

Tube hydroforming is the future in the production of automobiles because of its ability to be bent and molded into complex parts and shapes without the necessity for welds. In turn, what is created is a single “uni-body” design that has a high “strength-to-weight” ratio, or its specific strength.

The specific strength is calculated by dividing the materials strength by its density. This is also known as its breaking length, for which tubular hydroformed products is very high.

Production Comparison

For comparison of production, there are still many automakers that rely on the seemingly primitive process of stamping out sheets of metal that are then bound together through welding. This includes the production of the chassis, suspension, engine block harness, and so on. Not only can this be more expensive and time-consuming, the chances for breakage increase with every welded joint.

Whereas the hydroformed technique uses high pressure that essentially forces ductile metal into the desired shape quickly and easily. This process is more cost-effective, requires less manpower, and produces a superior product that is both stronger and more long-lasting.

The Future 

Having first been used nearly 30 years ago, tubular hydroforming is quickly becoming a worthy challenger to the old way of metal stamping. It continues to promise more simplified modules, weight reduction and distribution, improved hardness, and an overall structural strength that is vastly superior to its predecessor. It’s only a matter of time before this process of design and engineering is adopted and used more widely.

For more information on hydroforming, contact us any time.

Hydroforming Prototyping

Hydroforming Prototyping

If there was one aspect about engineering that hydroforming could benefit, it would be the prototype process. However, the act of producing hydroformed products that are more easily testable than a life sized models, in terms of limits, structure, and so on, is more of a pipe dream than a reality. Time and cost often outweighs means. But it doesn’t have to be that way, enter hydroforming prototyping.

Hydroforming Prototypes

Hydroforming is a special method in which metals are bent and shaped. It is very often found in use in the auto industry, but many industries have adopted the benefits of hydroformed products.

How this works with prototyping is like this: A prototype is introduced, it is scanned into a computer where a simulated process tests the endurance and stability of the product, giving feedback to the designer so that they can then makes changes. This not only benefits the design, but also the cost.

Further, computer prototyping allows the design engineer the ability to test various geometrically designed parts (this is especially true in sheet hydroforming, or SHF) for stress and cohesion. This allows for quick changes and even quicker results. It also gives the engineer an idea what real life stresses may do so that they can alter the design as necessary.

Working in Tandem With You

The collaborative process not only benefits those who have put their hard work into the design process, it also aids us in gathering a greater understanding about the product you want hydroformed. Because theoretical designs are often subject to real world failure, prototyping them is a cost-effective measure that prevents loss for your company.

Want more information on hydroforming prototyping? Contact us any time, or click here here to request a quote.

Deep Draw Hydroforming Explained

Deep Draw Hydroforming Explained

In the metal forming industry ‘hydroforming’ has become somewhat of a buzzword and general term for metal shaping. But there are many ways of shaping metal in this industry, all with their own unique advantages.

Deep draw hydroforming is a process by witch metal sheets (commonly referred to as ‘blanks’) are formed into parts by being drawn through a die by a punch. The edges of the blank are held in place by clamps called ‘blank holders’ while the punch pushes the metal sheet into an opening to shape it. The punched piece can also be put through the process again to ultimately increase the height and reduce the diameter of the punched item. This second pass is usually known as a redraw. Draws can be done multiple times until the desired height and diameter are reached.

Approximately 40% of the blank diameter can be drawn in one pass, with one set of tools. To continue increasing height and decreasing diameter, multiple draws must be done to avoid punching through the bottom of the blank. Of course, percentages will vary depending on type of metal, blank thickness, quality of materials, and what shape the final item is being formed into.

As previously mentioned, different types of metal stand up to being drawn better than others. One of the best for this process is aluminum. It is strong yet lightweight, easily drawn, readily accepts a host of finishes, has a pleasing appearance, and can be shipped without worry that it will rust. On top of all that, tooling aluminum is cheaper than generally any other metal. Other good metals for this type of tooling include copper, stainless steel, and brass.

For more information on hydroforming and metal shaping in general, feel free to contact us.