Blog

Report Says: Metal Stamping to Increase Thanks to Auto Industry

Report Says: Metal Stamping to Increase Thanks to Auto Industry

Metal stamping is a very important process to the manufacturing of automobiles. It plays host and is integral to a broad range of parts and finished goods. It transforms flat sheets of metal into recognizable (and useful) products in cars, SUV’s, and trucks, and will soon be on the increase thanks to supply and demand.

From a write-up on the recent report thanks to Virtual-Strategy Magazine, which takes just a small cross-section out of the gigantic and imposing original analysis:

Growth in the market is influenced largely by the demand for manufactured durable goods… any increase in demand for manufactured durable goods warrants their increased production… the auto industry represents a prominent end-use market with growth supported by the projected rise in demand for automobiles and automobile parts and components…

Benefiting most of all, perhaps, is hydroforming companies like us that make use of aluminum sheets to manufacture light-weight automobile parts that exist in every aspect of the vehicle, as is noted further by the report.

The source report, which can be found here and is titled Metal Stampings, Forgings, and Castings: A Global Strategic Business Report, details the growth of industries impacted by things like the growth of metal stamping, provides a comprehensive review of market trends, categorizes innovation and expansions, and outlines global market activities. Including estimates and projections from every manufacturing country in the world.

Global Industry Analysts, Inc., the publisher and researcher for the report, which was founded in 1987 and publishes over 1500 research reports annually, says that the growth can be measured in dollars, and when it’s all said in done (by the year 2020) that dollar amount could be upwards of US$472.2 billion.

We’re thankful that we can help to play a part in this resurgence of American made products, and are proud that a process that we helped to perfect will help our country and our industry succeed.

For more information on us or how we can help you, further documentation on how the metal stamping process can benefit your company, or to take a virtual tour of the hydroforming process, please contact us any time.

Aluminum Hydroforming Outperforming Steel Stamping

Aluminum Hydroforming Outperforming Steel Stamping

Hydroforming aluminum products has been around for the last few decades in some for or another. In the beginning, it was perfected to manufacture lightweight parts for the automotive industry as cars strayed away from heavier models and progressed towards more economical and efficient versions. But has since branched out to several other industries.

The advantages of aluminum hydroforming are numerous. Including weight reduction, vastly improved design flexibility, space reduction science, reduced jointing, less “downstream processing,” and a large impact on dimensional performance.

By replacing steel with aluminum, advanced hydroforming techniques could be applied to some of the most trusted and widely-used hydroforming methods. Aluminum sheeting, once added to the materials rotation, significantly impacted the stamping application, opening the door for advanced products and design. Then, as the automotive industry began to rapidly request more lightweight products, hydroforming adapted along side it.

As a basic rule that is typically agreed on by experts, and is used as an outline for aluminum hydroforming, there are three factors that contribute to the characteristics of aluminum extrusions.

They are:

Elongation: Most think that aluminum, being a lighter, more malleable material, would exhibit greater formable features than steel. This is contrary to the truth. In fact, steel is more formable than aluminum, but is obviously more weighty. Thus, the elongation factor is paramount to aluminum’s performance and usability over steel in addition to weight.

Materials: That is, alloys and tempers. Aluminum comes in a large variety of both of these characteristics, but the most widely sought after is a material that is strong and stable. Something that aluminum can have trouble with if close attention is not paid.

Shapes: A huge factor for aluminum’s growth in hydroforming is its ability to be formed into a large amount of shapes and sizes. Further, the cross sections that aluminum comes in out rivals steel in every regard (steel typically only comes in one: round).

Using aluminum in the hydroforming process has, and will continue to change how the technique is done. As major industries continue to evolve, so will how products are used, and how they benefit everyone involved.

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

Hydroformed Components Still Huge Part of Manufacturing

Hydroformed Components Still Huge Part of Manufacturing

We have long highlighted how hydroformed components are integral to manufacturers. From the kitchen sink to sports cars, hydroformed parts continue to lead the charge of innovation, and change how the modicum of industry performs.

Here are some of the latest examples of hydroformed parts making waves.

Kawasaki Ninja H2

The Kawasaki Ninja was one of the first street motorcycles to break speed records, and with recent launch of the $50k H2, Kawasaki is hoping to retain that relevancy and move into the future.

The hydroformed components: The exhaust system. “The entrance to the header pipes is oval to match the two exhaust ports per cylinder. Partly formed by hydroforming, each header pipe tapers from an oval to a round cross-section. The collector pipes are also hydroformed.”

Intense Tracer T275

The cycling industry has benefited greatly from hydroforming. Including top-of-the-line beasts like the Intense Tracer T275 to bottom of the barrel department store models.

The hydroformed components: The seamless top tube. This means that the frame weighs less because there are fewer parts involved with keeping the bike together. Resulting in a lighter, tougher frame and a smoother ride.

2015 Ford F-150

The automobile industry uses hydroformed parts daily. This includes large, multi-national companies like Ford. So when it was announced that the new F-150 would have hydroformed parts, we were both excited and relieved that they would be carrying on the tradition.

The hydroformed components: For increased bend-resistance, Ford’s F-150 has a heat-treated body and cab. “The cab’s structural cage is hydroformed and joints and seams are riveted and glued rather than welded. There’s more structural reinforcement between the inner and outer box and weight loss allowed Ford to up-gauge panel thickness as much as 65 percent.”

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

How the CAFE Standards Influence Engineering & Design

How the CAFE Standards Influence Engineering & Design

We were all taught about idealized cantilever beams in college.  Little did we know then, that even the simplest of parts have their own histories, and are affected by things as seemingly out of place as government regulations.

For example.. Let’s say you are awarded some new business.  Your client wants a simple bracket – The length is 20″, and it is supporting a concentrated load 500 pounds at the end.  The other end is mechanically grounded to a 5″x5″ patch.  The safety factor with respect to yield must be greater than three.  And the maximum deflection must be no greater than 1/4″.

You bring this to your design engineer, and they return with a simple rod with appropriate attachments at either end. All good and well.

Six months go by.  You client, an automotive manufacturer, informs you that due to ever constrictive standards imposed on them (and therefore, you) by the Federal Government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, your old design must meet the same design constraints, but be lighter.

“How much lighter?,” you ask.

“The lighter the better,” they answer.  “Oh, and by the way – we’ve added a design constraint:  You need to keep the first resonant frequency greater than 200 Hertz.”

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the now the end load is smaller.

You agree, and take the new requirements to your design team.  They come back with a tube design.

This happens every year for a few more years.  The CAFE requirements force progressively lighter designs.  Customers (and therefore, the client) are increasingly pressuring to keep costs down.  The form of the design becomes more distinctive over time.

After several design cycles, the constraints overwhelm your design team.  It is apparent that a simple tube design will no longer meet project requirements.  You decide to quarantine your team for a few hours, so that everyone can brainstorm about how to stay in the good graces of the client, by helping them stay in the good graces of the government.

Some interesting things come out of that exercise.  None of them are feasible.

Everyone has contributed to the discussion except one.  He’s the young, quiet guy in the back.  He looks a little embarrassed.  You convince him to spit out whatever he’s thinking.  And so he does.

It seems that when he was in school, he attended a tour of a hydroforming factory.  He tells you that this would be an ideal application for hydroforming manufacturing.  Hydroforming for example, would allow you to put ribs in your tube – something that can’t be done with conventional forming.  You’d have the extra stiffness without the extra material.

Naturally, you need to farm this out to hydroforming specialists.  As it turns out, it was a good decision.  Your VP even tells you so (happily), at your next yearly review.

Here at American Hydroformers, we are in the business of bringing success to automotive companies struggling to meet the demands of the consumer, the customer, and the government’s CAFÉ standards.  For more information on how our hydroforming solutions can help your company keep current with the cafe standards, please contact us.

In House Finite Element Analysis Capabilities

In House Finite Element Analysis Capabilities

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is an engineering simulation discipline that has its roots in the aerospace industry, during the 1950’s.  Since that time the discipline has ‘come into its own,’ spurred by the progress of computer hardware and software technologies, coupled with aggressive competition between software companies specializing in FEA products.

While FEA applies to many engineering fields, it is most often understood in terms of structural analyses for mechanical engineers.  A typical question addressed by FEA analysts would be, “Will a part fail under such-and-such loading (forces and restraining) conditions?”

Our company is a little different in that the questions we address by our FEA simulations.  Our simulations answer questions like, “what are the prestresses caused by the manufacturing process?”  Or, “Will the prestresses of the manufacturing process cause failure in the client’s part under the conditions specified by the client?”  And finally, there is always the iterative process of changing a manufacturing process within the virtual world of a given finite element analysis, to perfect the process.

One might ask, “Why not just do actual experiments?”  We would of course arrange to do such tests for our clients.  However, the problem with the more established ‘Make and Break,’ approach compared to FEA is additional (1) timing and (2) expenses loaded onto a given project.  These factors make it prohibitive for project engineers to rely exclusively on laboratory testing.  FEA usage cuts down on the time in the design phase of a project, a phase which affects all others in the product development process.

As an added benefit – when FEA analyses can be standardized (as we have with our hydroforming simulations), significant time and cost savings can be achieved that would not be possible using the old ‘Make and Break’ product testing methodology.

For further information about how our Finite Element Analysis capabilities may achieve cost savings and enhanced structural performance for your products, please contact us.

The Budding New Technique of Friction Stir Welding

The Budding New Technique of Friction Stir Welding

A relatively young technique in the field of welding, friction stir welding was invented then scientifically proven as a viable method in December of 1991. By definition it is a ‘solid-state joining process,’ meaning that the material being used for welding is not melted. This process employs the use of a third body tool to join together the two facing surfaces.

The process starts with heat being generated between the friction stir welding tool and material, which leads to a softened region. The tool then mechanically mixes the metals between the two pieces at the place of the joint. The softened metal can then be joined by pressure, supplied by the welding tool. This process is described as being much like joining pieces of clay or dough. Friction stir welding is excellent for items requiring superior hold strength without the need of a post-weld heat treatment.

There are several advantages that friction stir welding has been observed to have over traditional fusion welding. Some of these include;

  • Free range operation positions (horizontal, vertical, etc.) because there is no weld pool.
  • No consumables.
  • Easily automated on simple milling machines due to lower set up costs and less training.
  • Improved safety due to the absence of toxic fumes or the spatter of molten welding materials.
  • Reduced impact on the environment.

As with the advantages, a few disadvantages also go along with the friction stir welding process. A few examples of the disadvantages are;

  • An exit hole is left in the metal when the tool is withdrawn.
  • Less flexibility than whats found in manual and arch welding processes.
  • Often slower than fusion welding techniques, however this can be offset if a smaller number of welding passes are required.

Despite being a relatively new process, friction stir welding has already made a place for itself in several industries. These include automotive, offshore and ship building, aerospace, railways, personal computers, and various electronics. The future for this process is promising, paving a way for itself to maybe one day surpass traditional welding methods as the go to technique. If you would like to know more about friction stir welding, or other fabrication processes such as hydroforming, feel free to contact us at our website.

What is tubular hydroforming?

What is tubular hydroforming?

What is tubular hydroforming? Tubular Hydroforming is a cost effective way of shaping pliable metals such as aluminum, brass, and low alloy stainless steel. The process has been used since the 1950’s. Due to new advancements in technology and equipment in the industry, tubular hydroforming has only recently become a viable method for mass production. Modern machines now have independent control of various aspects of production such as, internal pressure, axial feeding, and counter-pressure. The control of these combined variables gives tubular hydroforming the upper hand in metal forming over older, more dated machinery and techniques.

The Pro’s and Cons of Hydroforming

Tube hydroforming has allowed engineers to optimize their designs through cross sectional reshaping and perimeter expansion. This, combined with the ability to inexpensively create the holes that are required for vehicle subsystem interfaces, hydroforming has become a critical technology for structural components in mass-produced vehicles. Some of the advantages of this process include;

  • The reduction of overall weight of the part via optimal design and thickness of the parts walls.
  • Lower production cost as a result of fewer parts.
  • Fewer secondary operations needed.
  • Drastically reduced waste.
  • Parts are more structurally sound with improved strength and stiffness.

Like with anything there are a few drawbacks to the hydroforming process, these include;

  • Slow cycle time.
  • Cost of the equipment.
  • Lack of extensive knowledge of the process and tool design.

Both advantages and disadvantages should be weighed when considering the hydroforming process for a part. Of course as this process becomes more widely used, several factors will have to be addressed. Some of these factors include;

  • Choosing a proper industrial lubricant that does not break down when subjected to high pressures.
  • Material selection and overall quality of the tube to be hydroformed.
  • Reducing time required for a single tube to be hydroformed.

In all, hydroforming is a production process that offers many advantages and produces exceptional components for use in cars and in industrial machinery. The process continues to grow and develop, creating a bright and vivid future for itself as a go to production method through companies such as American Hydroformers.  Next time you think, so what is tubular hydroforming? Please feel free to contact us at our website.

Bicycles Benefiting from Tubular Hydroforming

Bicycles Benefiting from Tubular Hydroforming

Tubular hydroforming has left an indelible mark upon every industry in which it contacts. It runs the gambit of industries like it revolutionizes products: quick and with assured growth.

So while car manufacturers and appliance makers alike have benefited from both high pressure and low pressure tube hydroforming, perhaps the one that has seen much of the growth mentioned before is the biking industry, where lightweight bicycle frames rule the trail, and have changed the industry.

Here are 3 examples of modern bicycles that use tubular hydroforming frames.

1. Marin Indian Fire Trail

Beginning with one of the newest and best, the Marin Indian Fire Trail is a superb example of an off-road trail bike that has benefited from tube hydroforming. Described as a “workhorse privateer” by the manufacturer, the Marin Indian features outstanding qualities and a hardened frame engineered through tube hydroforming.

2. Vitus Escarpe 290

This new version which harkens back to older models can only be described as one thing: versatile. Using the most up-to-date 650b wheel size and a tube hydroformed frame and fork, the Vitus Escarpe feels chunky to the rider, a feature that helps when encountering particularly rough road situations.

3. Canyon Grand Canyon AL 29 5.9

The name of this bike alone should inspire one to feel encouraged to get out on the trail. But if that isn’t enough, consider its features. Light-weight hydroformed frame? Check. Hydroformed top and down tubes? Check. Modern and all-trail rated 650b tires? Check. The Canyon Grand seems to have it all, and with a sticker price that fits nicely into the equation, it could be on many cyclists lists.

We don’t just specialize in tube hydroforming, we also specialize in hydraulic press work, laser cutting, and metal stamping. For more information on how we can help you, please contact us with your questions or concerns.

Why Is Metal Stamping A Great Method For Production?

Why Is Metal Stamping A Great Method For Production?

Metal is a key piece for a number of different industries throughout the world. Without pieces of metal, several operations and projects can not be completed. All across the world, you will see machine parts, metal sheets, and other metals that are used throughout the world.

The process of cutting metal and shaping the metal is known as metal stamping. There are various hydraulic machines and components that can shape the metals in the desired form. The metal stamping method is used in several vehicle parts, automotive keys, jewelry, and a number of other purposes.

Why Should You Consider Metal Stamping? Are There Any Benefits?

  • Metal stamping is a sensible and efficient solution for producing large amounts of difficult items. Metal stamping is the preferred solution for this kind of production because the costs to set up production and the labor costs are very cost-effective. The higher the level of production rises, the lower the labor costs will become. In industrial and manufacturing work, it is really necessary to keep the costs down as low as possible. Since metal stamping is a quick and efficient method, it has the ability to handle the bigger production while keeping the costs low.
  • The more difficult or complex products that want to have a fresh, creative design can be created with a more advanced metal stamping method.
  • When metal stamping can allow you to purchase materials, parts and pieces at a lower cost. Less scrap will also be produced because a huge chunk of the materials will be used.
  • Metal stamping is automated. You will not have to spend extra costs on labor. When the automation occurs, you can be confident that the speeds and production levels will remain consistent.
  • There isn’t a limit on the kind of projects or products that metal stamping can be used for. Any type of material or metal can be used with metal stamping. The size of the metal, the thickness, or the thinness doesn’t matter when metal stamping is being used. This is one of the many benefits of using metal stamping.

Metal stamping is an all-around ideal method for any kind of material. Whatever your needs are, you will need to partner with someone who will give you what you need at the highest quality.

Contact us so you can utilize all of the benefits metal stamping has to offer.