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Advancements in Metal Stamping

Advancements in Metal Stamping

Hard on the heels of the announcement that General Motors has opened a new metal stamping plant in Arlington, Texas, comes further information regarding how the opening of this new plant has impacted the overall economics of automobile production.

According to the Wall Street Journal, with the decision to open a metal stamping plant right next door to its assembly line, GM not only shortens its supply chain and saves money in shipping, but it also puts added pressure on its competitor Ford to keep up with the resultant boost in output.

“We want to be ruthless about waste. Whether it is a part design, packaging or shipping, we don’t want it,” GM purchasing chief Grace Lieblein told the [Wall Street Journal]. “It may be a few thousand save here or few million saved there but it adds up.” (Metal Miner)

But the effects of this move could be much more far-reaching.

With auto makers around the world still refining the same basic mass-production techniques pioneered one hundred years ago by Henry Ford, competition to develop the best and most efficient manufacturing and assembly techniques is strong.

With GM moving its metal stamping closer to its assembly plant, Ford compensates with “advanced manufacturing technologies [that] include lower-cost, faster stamping processes that reduce the time it takes to produce sheet-metal parts. It also uses three-dimensional drawings to create prototypes of components that can be tested in days rather than months.”

With metal stamping and hydroforming both integral components in automotive production, it will be fascinating in the days to come to watch market forces drive further development in these technologies.

For more information on further developments in metal stamping and hydroforming, please feel free to contact us.

Tube Hydroforming White Paper

Tube Hydroforming White Paper

 

Tube hydroforming is at the heart of the process that enables modern-day life to proceed more efficiently. From the water piping systems of local utilities to the cars we drive and bikes we ride, tube hydroforming is the process that allows the efficient creation of complex shapes with minimal waste in modern life. So what exactly is tube hydroforming?

Hydroforming Explained

As technology advances, businesses, government agencies, and utility providers around the world seek out the most cost-effective way to obtain the materials needed for piping, rail systems, and car parts (to name a few industries) while ensuring the products received still meet stringent requirements for strength and structural integrity. This is where hydroforming comes into play.

Hydroforming is a process that takes ductile metals, such as aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and other low alloy steels, and transforms them into the shapes needed by various industries. The process is conducted by fitting these metals into preformed dies or molds and reshaping them with the help of high pressure hydraulics.

For instance, when a piece of copper piping needs to be molded to a particular shape and still maintain a high stiffness-to-weight ratio, hydroforming is used. The copper piping would be placed inside a forming die with the desired mold shape for the end product. The copper tube is then inflated with high pressure hydraulic fluids from the open ends that force it to conform to the new shape of the mold.

The hydraulic fluid forces the expansion or alteration of the tube until it fits into the desired mold. Hydroforming is done with all metals that can be reshaped at room temperature, and is capable of achieving complex yet strong molded shapes in a much more cost-effective manner than other stamping or welding processes.

Evolution of Tube Hydroforming

Hydroforming was born out of the deficiencies of older metal forming processes. The first patent for a modern version of hydroforming was filed with the U.S. Patent Office in July 1952 (and later issued in 1955) by Fred Leuthesser Jr. and John Fox of the Schaible Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

To read the full article, down load our Tube Hydroforming White Paper here:

http://vptag.wufoo.com/forms/m7x4z5/

Tubular Hydroforming is the Way Forward

Tubular Hydroforming is the Way Forward

Tube hydro-forming is a concept in the metal fabrication industry that has been well-known for more than three decades. However, in the past years this method has only been effective in the production of a limited amount of products. Today, tubular hydroforming allows for mass production and a wide range of shapes.

The automotive industry is one of those that have taken advantage of this technological advancement to replace the ancient stamping method. The internal hydraulic pressure that this technology utilizes makes it possible for metals to bend slightly or be straightened effortlessly. Components such as space frames, engine cradles and other parts can be produced in plenty.

One of the features that give tubular hydroforming a competitive edge in the automotive market is the ability for light-weight equipment to be produced. The recent hydro-formed components utilize steel and aluminum, which are featured as the lightest and durable metals. With this advancement, manufactures can also be able to customize wall thickness of the outputs.

According to The Fabricator, “Tube hydroforming allows engineers to optimize their designs through cross sectional reshaping and perimeter expansion.” This means that scrap metal is reduced because one can set the system to cut the exact size of pieces they need. In turn, it reduces the cost of production for firms.

The components produced using these methods are of high quality. There is a tolerance for tight dimensions and spring backs. These characteristics are achieved through the extensive elongation of the metal beyond its yield point. Prevention of spring backs and tight tolerance translate to mean that pieces are strongly joined, and this leads to increased structural strength and stiffness of the products. To the consumer, this is vital as it guarantees a longer life of the vehicles they purchase.

To address matters of friction within the hydro-forming equipment, one needs to select the right lubricant. The parameters that one should contemplate about include the distance involved in the part to be produced, the internal pressure and the sliding velocity of the machine. Commonly applied lubricants are oils, waxes and any other lubricant that is free of polluting elements such as debris.

The application of the tubular hydro-forming technology is evident in the BMW5, which has a hyrdo-formed aluminum rear axle. This is a production technique that will see many firms achieve their production volume goals. For an intensive and deeper understanding of how tubular hydro-forming can transform your business, contact us.

Hydroformed Components: New Metals on the Market

Hydroformed Components: New Metals on the Market

There has been recent news about hydroforming bringing titanium to the masses. Until recently, it was difficult to use titanium on a commercial scale because of the cost as compared to the more affordable but weaker alternatives such as stainless steel. Hydroforming has pioneered cost saving methods to take advantage of titanium and its benefits.

But titanium isn’t the only alloy that has advantages for hydroformed components. Kinesium is a relatively new alloy that holds great potential by using the favorable aspects of both titanium and aluminum:

  • Kinesium is 25% stronger than 7005 series aluminum
  • The greater concentration of titanium allows for improved hardness and tensile strength
  • Kinesium is lightweight, partially because of the aluminum, but also because the greater strength allows for a thinner wall thickness in tubing
  • Kinesium is very affordable as an alloy because of its aluminum content

The company who created Kinesium, Kinesis, was specifically testing for an alloy that could make better bicycle frames. The innovation and opportunities provided by hydroforming have allowed this company to expand the possibilities of this alloy. The use of hydroforming also allowed Kinesis to create a shape that can withstand stresses experience by high performance bikes:

 

“Our Hydroformed tube shapes are designed to increase the effective strength of the frame by distributing stresses over a broad section of the tubes, instead of allowing them to be concentrated in small areas… The Hydroformed gussets and multi-section tube shapes are achieved with virtually no added weight.” (Kinesis UK)

 

For cyclists, hydroformed components made of Kinesium mean cost-effective and higher quality bicycle frames. For the industry, hydroformed kinesium offers a lightweight yet incredibly strong alternative for parts with complex geometries that can stand up to more stress than traditional metals and traditional metal stamping. The future is bright for other commercial uses, from the automotive to more personal uses around the household.

Hydroforming is taking the lead on innovative uses for new alloys. To learn more about hydroforming and about how to exercise its capabilities, please contact us.

Benefits of Sheet Metal Hydroforming

Benefits of Sheet Metal Hydroforming

Sheet Metal Hydroforming is similar to the conventional deep-drawing technique, but has significant advantages for the formed part and keeps the tooling costs and production costs low.

Below is the list of t benefits of sheet metal hydroforming, as opposed to the conventional deep-drawing technique.

  • Inexpensive:
    Hydroforming tooling can cost less than half the price of standard press tooling. Tooling generally required is a male die and a draw ring.  The rubber diaphragm typically acts as a universal female die in the sheet metal hydroform machine.
  • Functional:
    Irregularly contoured shapes are easily formed using hydroforming, it also makes it easy to form irregular shapes and contours because matching dies are not generally needed.
  • No Need to Waste Time Thinning Material Out:
    No need to waste time stretching. Hydroforming flows the metal rather than stretching it as a result you will have less wall thinning.
  • Less Work:
    Usually parts require multiple operations with a typical press, with hydroforming most of the operations can be condensed into one operation.
  • Save Money:
    Since almost all punches and draw rings are made of inexpensive cast iron, hardened tool steels are therefore not often needed. These type of tools carry a longer life span. Sheet metal hydroforming offers a wrapping action of diaphragm which does not cause scuff marks, shock, and stretch lines.
  • Quick Set Up:
    Tools are able to be mounted easily and quickly they are also self-centering and self aligning. Set-up times are much quicker and  very efficient.
  • Durability of Materials:
    Almost  all sheet metals can be hydroformed such as stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, copper, brass, precious metals, high strength alloys. The material’s thickness varies within the restrictions of the machine. Usually tool modifications are not required.

As you can see sheet hydroforming as its many benefits. If you would like more information please contact us with any question you may have.

Understanding Metal Stamping and Its Many Uses

Understanding Metal Stamping and Its Many Uses

Metal stamping is a process which includes the stamping or pressing of sheet metal into different forms. Some of the different types of metal stamping include punching, deep drawing, pressing, embossing, bending, flanging, and coining to name a few. The most common medium for metal stamping is sheet metal but it can be performed on other types of materials such as polystyrene. The process of stamping can produce an specified object repeatedly normally within a few steps which makes stamping economically favorable.

In many cases the initial process of stamping involves a simulation process. A metal working firm can take specs, measurements, and blueprints in order to perform a test run on the product being stamped. Once the test pieces are made, they can be tested for durability. These tests can include the analysis of possible defects such as wrinkling, splits, and thinning. This simulation saves the hiring manufacturing company time and money since the analysis performed produces a minute batch of product for testing.

Because of its versatility, metal stamping can benefit a wide range of industries. The automotive industry uses metal stamping often in order to produce a large amount of parts with minimal man power and resources. The marine industry, medical industry, construction industry, and aerospace technology industry all use metal stamping to manufacture their parts and products.

American Hydroformers has been a metal working industry leader since 2003. They have produced exceptional quality products for a variety of industries; coupling their expert metal forming capabilities with a strong focus on customer satisfaction. American Hydroformers uses cutting-edge technology in order to ensure your final product exceeds your expectations.

While American Hydroformers technology revolves around hydroforming, we may have an alternative application different from stamping that could be economically more feasible.

Please, contact us for more information.

Hydroforming Advantages for Automotive

Hydroforming Advantages for Automotive

Hydroforming metal is one of the most cost effective ways of creating asymmetrical parts for the automotive industry. Many parts used on cars today have irregular shapes making traditional methods of manufacturing more cumbersome and expensive. The strength and weight of hydroformed parts also lends to better produced products which are easier to work while maintaining an overall better structural integrity. Here are some other hydroforming advantages that make it one of the best choices for fabricating parts for the automotive industry:

  • Reduced tooling costs: When manufacturing parts the traditional way, jigs and other forms must be manufactured before the process of fabrication begins. If a company only needs a small quantity of the manufactured parts, the increase in cost for tooling greatly affects the bottom line.
  • Increased quality and precision: Hydroforming uses a technique which employs a press, pressurized fluid, and a punch. This process is not only quicker than traditional types of fabrication, it also ensures greater accuracy because their are less steps in the process of hydroforming than traditional manufacturing.
  • Deep-drawing with less stretch: Hydroforming uses less friction in the manufacturing process. Deep draws can be performed with less material stretch. This means the product will have a better integrity as well as less blemishing; in turn requiring less finishing work.
  • The versatility of hydroforming: Steel, copper, brass, aluminum, alloys, etc can be manufactured into parts using the hydroform process. When dealing with these types of materials, many additional efforts must be put into place with traditional fabrication processes as to not damage or weaken the material.

In the automotive industry material strength is essential for safety. The race industry has especially seen benefits from the light weight and structurally sound parts developed as a result of hydroforming. As hybrid vehicle become more and more popular, hydroforming has played an integral part in keeping cars efficient through bettering the manufacturing process. When looking for hydroformed parts you can depend on for strength and lasting durability, please contact  the experts at American Hydroforming.

Midwest Hydroforming Boosting Alternative Energy

Midwest Hydroforming Boosting Alternative Energy

In 2009, the New York Times predicted that more and more states would look to harvest clean energy along highways and interstates by installing rows of turbines. Anyone who’s recently driven down Interstate 65 in Indiana or I-155 in Illinois can attest to that fact. Soon Kansas will join their ranks, having passed a bill in the state legislature to boost Kansas’s wind industry.

As more and more states take advantage of the benefits of wind energy, they’re only keeping pace with what’s happening on an international level. Around the world, groups are coming together to boost global consumption of clean alternative energy sources. Take Brazil, for example, which in 2012 saw two international companies coming together to build and operate two large-scale wind farms in Brazil’s northeast.

[We’ve] been seeking options to meet this demand, on a sustainable way, using renewable sources such as hydro, wind and biomass. The option to develop wind projects also helps diversify our energy matrix, reduce our emissions and ensure cost competiveness in the long term. (Vânia Somavilla)

With a global boost in wind energy production, there is, of course, a global increase in the need for components necessary to the Alternative Energy sector.

The midwest hydroforming industry aids by producing components for solar, wind, and nuclear power mechanisms.

As the Midwest sees and uptick in alternative energy consumption, it also sees an increased necessity of hydroforming in the Midwest.

If you have questions regarding how you can take advantage of our hydroforming expertise, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to doing our part to create a brighter, cleaner, more energy-efficient future.

Improving Bicycles with Tube Hydroforming

Improving Bicycles with Tube Hydroforming

What is tube hydroforming? It is a metal shaping method that is replacing stamping and pressing because of its quality products and cost-effectiveness. Tube hydroforming is used to create countless products: automotive exhaust components, sink faucets, hand rails, rifle scopes, sporting goods, and bicycle frame components. More bicycles than cars are sold in the USA every year. Last year, approximately 19 million bikes were purchased. When looking for a bike, people pay close attention to the weight and stability of the bike’s frame, because all these factors make the difference between a heavy, awkward bike and one that is light and easy to maneuver.

The tube hydroforming process offers the best features of an aluminum bicycle frame. Often when a manufacturer makes a bike frame, they press or stamp the components for the frame, but the problem is that this creates weak points that the eye cannot see. Tube hydroforming, however, creates a sturdy frame, because the hydraulic fluid is pumped into the frame at high pressure, creating evenly molded aluminum without any weak spots. The process produces interesting shapes and a thickness in the material, leaving a stronger and lighter tube to be used in the frame system.

Not only are manufacturers improving bicycles with tube hydroforming, but it also saves the manufacturers money, thus reducing bike costs for consumers. The manufacturer saves a lot of funds on tools that would have been needed for stamping and pressing techniques. Hydroforming is also done at room temperature, and the die used to cast material can be used over again, saving a lot of money on energy and material costs.

Hydroforming is a reliable and trusted process. Consumers have started specifically looking for hydro-formed bicycle frames because of the frames’ sturdiness, light weight, and pleasing appearance.

For more information about tube hydroforming, our services, and experience, please contact us.

Hydroforming Titanium for the Masses?

Hydroforming Titanium for the Masses?

The advantages of using titanium and titanium alloys have long been apparent to both the scientific and commercial communities:

  • Good strength
  • Resistance to erosion and erosion-corrosion
  • Very thin, conductive oxide surface film
  • Hard, smooth surface that limits adhesion of foreign materials
  • Surface promotes dropwise condensation

Due to these benefits, titanium and titanium alloys have become important players in a variety of different industries.

Since the introduction of titanium and titanium alloys in the early 1950s, these materials have in a relatively short time become backbone materials for the aerospace, energy, and chemical industries. (The Key to Metals

However, although there are many advantages to using titanium, its commercial use has been somewhat cost prohibitive. Over the years, manufacturers have instead turned to stainless steel, which although not as durable as titanium, is significantly more affordable to work with.

Until recently, that is.

In 2012, it was announced that a team led by André Albert at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering “developed a new process for hydroforming titanium at high temperatures in a single step that promises to make titanium more of an everyday material,” a process which allows titanium to be forged by hydraulic pressure in a single step and in one place without cracking (Gizmag). Needless to say, the savings that this new procedure would provide would be an enormous boon to the industry.

With titanium’s exceptional versatility, this new hydroform procedure could move its use from the aerospace industry into everyday life, including window frames, hydraulic lines, jet engine components, bio-compatible implants, and bicycle frames — not to mention the possibilities for the automotive industry, where “because of the lack of cost-effective forming technologies for titanium, currently manifolds, exhaust pipes, catalytic converters and mufflers are primarily manufactured from high-alloy stainless steel” (TechFragments).

With hydroform bringing down the cost of titanium production, perhaps its only a matter of time until more and more of our everyday tasks — cooking, cleaning, grooming, working out — are aided by titanium instruments.

If you have questions regarding developments in hydroform technology and how we can help you take advantage of them, please feel free to contact us.