Blog

The Deep Draw Hydroforming Process & Advantages

The Deep Draw Hydroforming Process & Advantages

In the 1940s, deep draw hydroforming became the forefront method for developing and manufacturing irregular shaped metal parts. Die style stamping became archaic, as it became inefficient in comparison to the hydroforming method.

The old style die stamping method used heat to draw metal and parts formed using this process took longer to make as the process of shaping the metal uniformly took more time and manpower to develop. Deep draw hydroforming allowed manufacturers to create irregular or asymmetrical parts using a cold forming process. Because hydroformed parts requires less finishing work, less time and manpower is needed to create perfect pieces.

One distinct advantage of deep draw hydroforming is it allows the manufacturer to create and manipulate a variety of metals including aluminum, brass, carbon steel, stainless steel, and alloy. This versatility has allowed manufacturers to meet the demands of a variety of industries including, but not limited to the aerospace industry, the automobile industry, and the HVAC industry.

Top Advantages of Deep Draw Hydroforming

  • Many parts can be formed using a one step process
  • Irregular shapes can be manufactured in less time due to less finishing work on the final product
  • Material stability and durability is maintained during the forming process
  • Less machines are used in the process resulting in quicker set up times
  • Development costs are significantly reduced
  • Abnormalities such as ripping, tearing, wrinkling, and marking associated with traditional die forming is eliminated

For more information about how deep draw hydroforming can save your firm time and money in the manufacturing process, contact us. The experts at American Hydroformers have proudly served the metal manufacturing industry for over 10 years and are dedicated to creating comprehensive metal manufacturing solutions for your firm.

Sheet Hydroforming: 4 Advantages

Sheet Hydroforming: 4 Advantages

Sheet hydroforming is a process that uses liquid as the medium of energy transfer to form the workpiece. Hydroforming is applied more and more in industry because it results in a better strain state in the workpiece. A deeper draw can be achieved and the friction between tools and blanks is reduced.

The advantages of hydroforming include reduction in weight, increase in stiffness, no damage to the surface of the sheet, and the capability to form complex shapes.

1. Reduction in weight: If strength is not compromised, a reduction in weight is always advantageous in the automobile, airline, and other such industries. The reduction in weight can contribute to an increase in speed. In addition, in building any structure a reduction in weight is advantageous.

2. Increase in stiffness and rigidity: While we might want speed, we also want safety. With the stiffness and rigidity, safety is enhanced.

3. Complex shaped: With sheet hydroforming, many complex shapes can be created without the use of welds which could compromise safety. The use of stamps and hydraulics allows various shapes include concave and convex curves.

4. Good surface finish: We want the reduction in weight with safety. But we also want the aesthetics. This process produces quality surface finishes without the blemishes of welding.

Sheet hydroforming is useful in reducing weight and cost simultaneously by improving structural integrity, strength, and rigidity. Cost reduction includes the elimination or decrease of welds and welding operations. Additionally, production steps are reduced which contributes to the cost reduction.

Want to know more? Just contact us and let’s talk.

 

Benefits of Tubular Hydroforming

Benefits of Tubular Hydroforming

Since the 1950s, tubular hydroforming has become a staple in the metal fabrication industry. Technological advancements in computer controlling and high-pressure hydraulic systems have allowed the process to become a more viable solution for mass metal production.

Modern machines allow for an increased metal shaping capabilities which far exceed traditional methods due to the employment of independent control of axial feeding, internal pressure, and counter pressure.

There are numerous applications for hydroforming including those within the automotive industry. Hydroforming has revolutionized the production of a multitude of parts from how exhaust manifolds are built to how axles are formed.

The typical hydroforming process follows a progression sequence in which fluid pressure within the tube is increased after the die closes to force the material into the deformation zone. During the formation process, axial feeding and internal pressure are regulated simultaneously to ensure the proper shaping of the material. Spring back is prevented and tight tolerances are maintained by stretching the tube’s cross section beyond its yield point.

Tubular hydroforming allows developers and engineers to optimize designs through cross section reshaping and expansion. Because of the structural integrity of hydroformed pieces, hydroforming has become a critical element in developing mass produced automotive components.

Several advantages of tubular hydroforming include:

  • Part consolidation
  • Reduced waste
  • Fewer parts so lower tooling cost
  • Reduced need for secondary operations
  • Low spring-back and tight tolerances
  • Improved structural strength and stiffness of product
  • Consistency
  • Weight reduction through highly efficient design and tailoring of wall thickness

From an economic and mechanical standpoint, hydroforming makes perfect sense for the manufacturing of mass produced metal products. Cycle times can be reduced to increase production proficiency even more, allowing for an improved bottom line.

For more information on how hydroforming can help your business, contact the professionals at American Hydroforming. The experts at American Hydroforming use only the most technologically advanced methods for shaping and fabricating metal products and have been trusted leaders in the hydroforming industry since 2003.

Vehicles Using Hydroformed Components

Vehicles Using Hydroformed Components

Hydroformed components play a major role in the design and production of automobiles. From headliners to hood seals and headlights, sheet and tube hydroforming are used in the manufacturing process for most car companies. Its lightweight design and inexpensive manufacturing cost keep hydroforming on the cutting edge and in the spotlight.

Here is a look at three cars that will be rolling off the assembly line next year, thanks in large part to hydroformed components.

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: The much-anticipated SUV will feature hydroformed parts around every contour through a proprietary Pressure-Sequence Hydroforming technology. “Vari-Form technology stretches the limits of thin wall hydroforming,” said Vari-Form director of sales & engineering Doug Viohl. “Staying within finite tube thickness limits. I’m pleased to say this is something that competing hydroforming processes simply cannot do.”

The 2014 Mercedes Benz C-Class: The luxury sedan is set to be the nicest C-Class in recent history, and will feature “A curved high-pressure hydroformed tube and aluminium cast consoles with additional struts,” according to the press release. This new design has only ever been featured in Mercedes’ E-Class Cabriolet, a highly sought after luxury convertible.

The 2014 Corvette Stingray C7: The brand new (and newly designed) 2014 Corvette will feature a much improved, and lighter chassis made from hydroformed aluminum. “Engineers varied the gauge of the aluminum frame from 2mm to 11mm, depending on the location, so it not only dropped pounds, but also enhanced stiffness in specific areas.”

Hydroforming continues to be an innovator of design and a “go to” for the car industry due to its quick, easy and inexpensive concepts coupled with durability and reliability. Hydroforming is fast becoming essential and integral to manufacturers in all industries.

For more information on hydroforming feel free to contact us any time.

Hydroformed Components Revive Classic Cars

Hydroformed Components Revive Classic Cars

Hydroformed automotive parts are showing up on a lot of new car models – the Ford Fusion, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette and the  Chevrolet Silverado, for example – but new cars are not the only vehicles sporting these superior hydroformed components, older models can enjoy the many benefits too.

A New York Times article describes how Jonathan Ward uses hydroformed components to restore and recreate classic cars and trucks. His goal is to retain the appeal of the design while improving the structural integrity. Ward accomplishes this many times by replacing orignal parts with hyrdroformed parts which can be custom-made to the exact specifactions needed. Ward credits this new technology with making it possible to custom-restore classic models.

“You couldn’t have done this 10 years ago,” he said, adding that laser scanning had made it possible to build just about any shape out of modern materials using hydroforming or an English wheel. “Once you can track and control forms, you can go back and recreate something.”

Hydroforming is a perfect partner for the automotive industry in creating lightweight, durable parts that are thinner yet stronger. Hydroforming allows for creating shapes and bends without the need for welded joints, leading to an overall sturdier construction.  Using hydroformed components generally removes the need for heavy materials that can endure the stamping, welding, cleaning, etc. which add unnecessary weight to the vehicles, the lighter hydroformed components are generally stronger and much more efficient in the manufacturing process.

At American Hydroformers, we use the latest advances in hydroforming technology. We offer industrial laser cutting, stencil work and tube forming. Whether you’re restoring a classic car or need complete assembly level automotive part fabrication, we can help you find the right metal fabricating solution for your specific needs.

Contact us today for more information.

Hydroforming Increases Automobile Safety

Hydroforming Increases Automobile Safety

You might not know it, but you may have hydroforming to thank for the fact that you weren’t injured in your last fender-bender.

What is hydroforming?

Generally speaking, hydroforming is a technique whereby a high-pressure hydraulic fluid is used to push a ductile metal, like aluminum or stainless steel, into a solid piece that is stiff and structurally sound.

The fluid is either pushed directly against the metal (no-bladder hydroforming) or against an insulating bladder (bladder hydroforming or flexforming). The metal is, in turn, pushed against a negative mold. (A negative mold has the name it does because it’s the inverse of the desired shape, meaning the material pushed into it achieves the shape that is sought.)

Hydroforming is often used to make unibodies for vehicles and metal frames for bicycles. The reason we began this post with the comment about hydroforming and vehicles is that the automotive industry has been one of the chief beneficiaries of hydroforming’s ability to creative strong, solid pieces of shaped metal.

Hydroforming is praised for being more cost-efficient than other methods and it can be used to create pieces that are too complex for simple die casting. Furthermore, hydroforming can actually be quite simple in terms of the infrastructure required.

If you are interested in learning more about hydroforming in general or about American Hydroformers specifically, please contact us at any time or visit our website for more information. We are always happy to help prospective new clients understand why we may be the best fit for them.

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.