Blog

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.

Metal Stamping: What to Expect from a Provider

Metal Stamping: What to Expect from a Provider

Coil Metal Stamping

In terms of metal stamping, for many suppliers, a statement that seems to be used most often when describing the service is one that usually involves savings in some way. An obvious selling point that definitely lures in customers. However, don;t be fooled by such simplicity. Savings isn’t, and shouldn’t be the end of your criteria. Engineering, innovation, willingness to help, and economics should also be on your list.

A stamping provider should work with you as a partner, creating solutions and ideas that benefit your project. They should be, as one news article has said, a “manufacturing partner.” How would they do so? By adding core elements of design and expertise that work with your ideas and add value through innovation.

For instance, say you have a part that requires metal stamping. Do you know when a part requires deep-draw metal processing (which requires a specialist), versus when a more traditional stamping process is required? If you answered no, that’s because you shouldn’t have to know. Let the experts decide which technique works best.

A metal stamping supplier should also be a solutions partner, and should have all of the necessary machinery to get the job done correctly and accurately. Not to mention stellar engineering capabilities that exceed quality standards in all facets of the process.

In all aspects of design, a quality stamping provider should partner with you and collaborate to decide what the best direction to proceed should be in regards to your (and your part’s) needs. There should be an open and honest two-way communication between you both so that all expectations are met, and exorbitant (and unnecessary) manufacturing costs can be kept at bay.

Your metal stamping provider should be an all-in-one, conclusive solution to all of your parts needs. They should add value to your project that goes beyond just your stamping needs, and should be willing to work to meet your goals and deadlines.

For more information on how we can help you, please contact our experts to discuss how we can help you with all of your metal stamping solutions or an alternative to metal stamping in the form of tube hydroforming.

 

CAFE standards 2014: How Hydroforming Can Help

CAFE standards 2014: How Hydroforming Can Help

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards were first enacted in by Congress in 1975, following the Arab Oil Embargo, as a way to improve the average fuel economy of the cars and light trucks — including trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles — that are sold in the United States. In recent years, the Obama Administration, through the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, has focused heavily on the CAFE standards, this time in order to decrease the U.S. reliance on foreign oil sources as well as to cut pollution.

The CAFE Standards 2014 state that a manufacturer’s annual fleet of vehicle production must meet the defined miles per gallon standard, which is increasing incrementally from year to year. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the standard is 35.2 mpg for passenger cars, 26.2 mpg for light trucks, and 31.4 mpg for combined cars and trucks. If the manufacturer fails to meet the standard as figured from the average mileage of the various vehicles they offer in the U.S., they will pay a penalty. The penalty is currently set at $5.50 USD per 0.1 mpg under the standard, multiplied by the manufacturer’s total production for the U.S. domestic market. A Gas Guzzler Tax is also assessed on individual passenger car models that get less than 22.5 miles per gallon. New standards are also being formu lated this year for medium- to heavy-duty trucks.

The weight of a vehicle certainly impacts its fuel efficiency, and that’s where tube hydroformers fit into the solution for increasing the miles per gallon on cars and trucks. High performance and race cars have relied on long tubular frame construction for quite some time because it is stronger and lighter than traditional stamped and welded assemblies. Now that knowledge is being applied to passenger vehicles and light trucks in order to effect improvements and meet the standards.

For more information about the CAFE standards 2014 and future years, or about our services for the automotive industry, contact us.

Can Tube Hydroforming Really Add Something To Your Industry?

Can Tube Hydroforming Really Add Something To Your Industry?

There has been a significant growth in hydroforming, as workers in the automotive industry are taking steps back to examine all of their options. The stepping back process involves examining all of the available options in an effort to find an affordable and efficient process. Tube hydroforming can produce much stronger components than the traditional methods. Tube hydroforming has been around for a significant number of years, but the usage has been mainly for simple shapes.

Tube hydroforming involves expanding the metal tubes into a certain shape. The shape is formed by using two die halves. When the parts are created using this kind of method, parts are more efficient because you the welding process will be eliminated. Parts that are created with this method will have a significant number of benefits, such as:

  • Part reduction
  • Weight reduction
  • Flexibility in the design/engineering
  • Seamless bonding
  • Increase in the strength of the parts
  • The ability to have better quality surfaces
  • Bending rigidity
  • Overall quality in the parts/Class A finishing

Most of the attention that is brought up during hydroforming is the focus on strength and weight, as well as the reduction of parts being used. In many cases, hydroforming can be the only method used to create a special geometry. It is expected for tubes support to load strongly and smoothly than the stamp sheets. Designers and engineers are figuring out when to apply tube hydroforming. As a result, new ideas and capabilities are being put together. Hydroforming will continue to be used to create more parts as the improvement of design options continues.

The high-profile applications have been used in the automotive industry because the benefits from tube hydroforming are highly value to vehicles. However, tube hydroforming can be used in any kind of industry for a number of different structural applications. When you change from your previous method to tube hydroforming, you will get great benefits that will be worth the switch.

Determining when to use tube hydroforming will not be easy, but at the right time your company can improve its performance and remain in the competitive automotive industry race.

For more on tube hydroforming, contact us.

Commom Tube Hydroformed Household Fixtures

Commom Tube Hydroformed Household Fixtures

By now, you have no doubt heard of or experienced hydroforming first hand. But in some cases you may not have known it. That’s because hydroforming isn’t just limited to industrial sectors or even just to car manufacturers. It’s more than that. It is a part of our everyday lives.

In fact, there are numerous items that you use regularly around your home that have been engineered, designed, and manufactured by the tube hydroformed technique.

Let’s take a tour around your house in search of common hydroformed components.

Plumbing Fixtures

Ever wonder how they get that sleek, smooth look of a classy and shiny faucet? You guessed it. Hydroforming. Those ergonomically-designed faucets in your kitchen and bathroom, and the ones that you see at your hardware store, were manufactured using the hydroforming technique.

But with plumbing, it isn’t just limited to what you can see. The hydroforming technique has also lent its capable hand to under-counter plumbing fixtures as well. Like copper fittings, elbows, bends, and so on. A hydroformed plumbing fixture means that they are stronger, and that with fewer pieces working together to hold a watertight seal, that they will last much longer as well (with no leaks).

Appliance Fixtures

Your kitchen is a hotbed for hydroformed products. On your stoves and refrigerators are handles. Handles that are smooth and match your appliances perfectly, both in function and in form. In most of the cases, those handles are a hydroformed product, crafted with that particular appliance in mind.

To spot one, simply look for a bend. If it is graceful and fluid then your appliance’s handle was achieved by this one-of-a-kind process (the list of major brands that feature these handles is extensive).

Furnaces/HVAC

Moving down to your basement, this tour ends at your furnace. Did hydroforming craft your entire furnace? No. But it is entirely possible that some of the most important parts (like inlet covers and outflow fixtures, both of which allow for warm and cold air to flow through your home) were made using the tube hydroformed process.

For more information on hydroforming and all of its processes and products, please contact us any time.

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.