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7 Benefits of Hydroforming

7 Benefits of Hydroforming

A cost-effective way of forming certain metals into strong lightweight structures is by hydroforming. This can be done with aluminum, brass, low alloy steels and stainless steel.

Starting with a blank metal tube the tube expands into the desired shape when placed in a customized tool specifically designed for this purpose. The tool closes around the tube and the hydraulic rams are used to seal off the ends while water is forced into the interior of the tube.  You can see an animated hydroforming process here on this page, what is hydroforming.

When the required water pressure is reached the metal transforms into the shape of the mold. At the same time the hydraulic rams are computer-driven to each end of the tube so smooth, thick walls are formed as the metal expands turning it into attractive, repeatable shapes.Once the water is disposed of and the part removed the system moves on to the next blank tube.

Seven main benefits of hydroforming:

1. Much fewer welds are required

Previously, if wanted to transform metal into different shapes a lot of individual sections had to be welded together but hydroforming enables the metal tube to be turned into long, complex shapes with a reduced number of welds that reduces resistance and improves the efficiency of the airflow.

2. Few Steps in the Process

The whole process can be done in a much quicker time, often taking as little as 20 seconds for loading the blank tube to unloading the finished product. This is because many parts of the exhaust chain can be combined into one seamless assembly.

3. Remarkable Precision

The in-feeding of the material is accurately controlled by the computer while the metal is under high pressure inside the tool up to within 10 thousandths of an inch. This will be from 25,000 to 30,000psi.

4. Waste Reduction

By repeating the process you eliminate wastage from dented or accidentally bent parts and less material is needed due to the consolidation of the sections into one assembly.

5. Weight Reduction

Hydroforming produces lighter products as the required stiffness can be achieved using thinner walls. In previous processes this was not possible.

6. Form More Complex Shapes

Complex shapes can be achieved from pre-bent tubes by hydroforming and they can even have inlet and outlet openings incorporated.

7. Reduced Tool Costs

The number of tools can be reduced drastically due to fewer sections and the elimination of the burring and punching processes.

To get more information on hydroforming, contact us.

What is Tube Hydroforming?

What is Tube Hydroforming?

Often, when it comes to discussing what we do, the very first question asked is: What is tube hydroforming? The simplest answer is that hydroforming is a way to shape metal. This cost-effective process is used on metals such as aluminum, steel, stainless steel, copper and brass.

Hydroforming is a common application in the automotive industry, where it can produce stronger structures for vehicles such as engine cradles, suspension and radiator supports. Other examples of items that can be produced by hydroforming include kitchen spouts — which were the original intention of sheet hydroforming — as well as satellite antennas, saxaphone tubes and bicycle frames.

Before the process of hydroforming was developed, items were made by forming two halves and then welding them together. By using die molding and highly pressurized fluid to form metal, hydroforming eliminates the inefficiency of welded pieces and allows for more complex shapes and contours of the metal.

There are two types of hydroforming: sheet hydroforming and tube hydroforming. Sheet hydroforming uses one die and a sheet of metal, while tube hydroforming involves the expansion of metal tubes into a shape using two die halves which contain the raw metal tube.

Specializing in tube hydroforming, American Hydroformers has a high pressure hydroforming press system that provides higher efficiency and versatility with parts that have complex geometries or extensive secondary operations. We work with a number of industries, including automotive, appliance, diesel exhaust and plumbing. We also offer complete assembly level fabrication of automotive structures, industrial laser cutting and stencil work. For more information on our services, contact us.

Innovative Uses of Sheet Hydroforming

Innovative Uses of Sheet Hydroforming

Most consumers are already fairly well aware that one of the most common applications of sheet hydroforming is found in the automotive sector. For years, auto makers have taken advantage of hydroforming techniques to make their models faster, lighter, and more attractive.

Take, for example, the Lincoln MKC, displayed at the 2013 LA Auto Show. One of the MKC’s selling points is, in fact, a product of sheet hydroforming: a completely seamless liftgate.

Instead of punching the sheet metal between two large dies, the sheet is formed around a die using a liquid-filled bladder. By taking away the seams from the rear of the vehicle, it creates an incredibly clean and strong design, while also simplifying assembly. (Auto123.com)

Such innovations in the automotive world involving hydroforming have become commonplace, however.

What may come as more of a surprise would be the recent application of hydroforming to develop Gramovox’s classy Bluetooth gramophone. Built in the shape of a retro gramophone horn, this wireless speaker adds a sense of whimsy to any and all musical styles with the added bonus of a vintage sound produced combining both classic 1920s techniques with modern-day developments, “with the cone spun on a lathe and the neck hydroformed out of metal sheets. The two parts will then be hand welded together” (cnet.com)

With the project to produce these little beauties still seeking support through Kickstarter, it seems unlikely that consumers will see these readily available any time soon; however, it is fascinating to see how blending modern hydroforming techniques with creativity can bring about truly fascinating and useful products.

For more on the unique uses of hydroforming, sheet hydroforming or metal fabrication in general, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to working together with you.

The History of Hydroforming in the U.S.

The History of Hydroforming in the U.S.

Hydroforming is defined as the process in which metal is shaped using fluid dynamics. The result is lightweight, structurally strong, stiff pieces of the original metal. Metals that can be hydroformed include, but are not limited to brass, stainless steel, low-alloy steel, and aluminum.

Hydroforming became popular in the early 1900s as the automotive industry began to take hold in the United States. The process allowed automotive manufacturers a more desirable alternative to casting using die sets. Die-set part manufacturing required more finishing work and produced less structurally sound parts due to metal stretch and excessive handling.

Hydroforming tools were born as a result of the arduous research and development of the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company founded by Geiger and Holtz in 1889. By the 1930s, the Cincinnati Milling Company was the main supplier of metal forming machines in the U.S. and Europe. As the demand for shaped metal parts increased, the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company began the process of developing deep draw forming techniques using lighting reflectors and gear case covers.

The company was transformed in 1956 to Cincinnati Milacron and research and development of the hydroforming process accelerated. This allowed more advanced forms of hydroforming to begin to take shape. As a result, the old style of deep draw became obsolete and more modern hydroforming techniques began to take the helm. By the 1970s, Hydroforming was officially out of its fledgling stages. These hydroforming machines reduced the need for excessive metal part finishing, which in turn reduced the turn over time for parts, increased efficiency, and reduced the workforce needed to produce quality product.

American Hydroformers has effectively mastered the tubular hydroforming process, supplying multiple industries with high quality hydroformed parts. For over ten years we have continued to raised the bar, producing the most durable, uniquely crafted, and versatile hydroformed parts on the market. For more information on how our expertise, please contact us.

Hydroforming Makes Offshore Wells Safer?

Hydroforming Makes Offshore Wells Safer?

From durable auto bodies to high-tech bicycle components, the hydroforming process is well-known for breaking technological barriers on land.  Now, engineers in the offshore oil and gas industry are looking to hydroforming for inspiration in improving well safety.

In the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster, increased regulatory scrutiny is being turned on the offshore oil and gas industry.  The integrity of wells underwater, where maintenance is difficult and pressure is immense, is of particular importance to both the environment and regulatory agencies.  At the same time, increased demand means that underwater wells are becoming increasingly vital for petroleum production worldwide.

Faced with an urgent need for increased well safety, petroleum engineers have found a solution in the process of hydroforming.  Taking advantage of the natural hydraulic pressure at the sites of deepwater rigs, oil and gas engineers have developed a process called Metalmorphology.  Inspired by hydroforming, metalmorphology allows engineers to form metal components after the metal has already been inserted downhole.  The pieces can be formed with an astounding 100% conformance rate, making it much easier to prevent the release of environmentally harmful chemicals from undersea oil  and gas wells.

As hydroforming processes develop, the possibilities for their application continue to expand in exciting new directions.  American Hydroformers is dedicated to using the most advanced hydroforming technology available to make the manufacturing process more efficient.  Feel free to contact us and find out how our hydroforming expertise and cutting-edge methods can provide you with a structurally superior, economically-produced product.

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.