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Accuracy in tube hydroforming

Accuracy in tube hydroforming

As the demands for lightweight construction and precision grow, tube hydroforming is becoming increasingly popular. Hydroforming is used in a wide variety of applications from industry parts to bikes because the process can create parts that have desired properties, such as complex geometrical shape and light weight. Even the new Corvette design employs hydroformed tubes to keep the car lightweight. With the wide variety of complex shapes that tube hydroforming processes can be used for, you may wonder how accurate the end product is. Well, let’s take a look at some of the variables that go into hydroforming.

First, you start with a tube or sheet of steel that is placed into a cavity, and water at high pressure pushes the steel into the shape of the cavity. The factors that can affect this are:

  • Change in outer forces

This is looking at the pressure considerations of the liquid in the die cavity, which are between 30 to 150 MPa in comparison to the

  • Material yield strength
  • Inner radius of the sharpest cross sectional.
  • Material wall thickness.

When the pressures are correctly balanced, the deformation of the metal will have an optimal flow and a minimal wall thickening.

  • Change in friction

For optimal flow of the metal, friction should not be too much or too little. With too much friction, the strain of the metal as it bends could cause it to crack and break. Too little friction could me a malformed product.

  • Change in material behavior

During deformation, metals undergo stress and strain. With optimal heat and pressure, the metal flow will be such that the metal deforms smoothly into the cavity it’s being molded to.

The changes in these factors will determine optimisation of the flow of the metal as it forms to the cavity. However, skilled technicians can minimize the thickening of the walls, which increases the accuracy and meets tolerances for your project. It is possible to manufacture parts that can fulfil demands with tolerances of 0.5mm for a geometrical shape up to 500mm.

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Ready to get your project under way? Contact us to work with our skilled technicians for your next project.

Hydroformed Bicycle Frames

Hydroformed Bicycle Frames

You may think that if you’ve seen one bike, you’ve seen them all. Yes, they come in different colors and wheel sizes with different kinds of brakes; but they’re basically all the same. After all, they’ve all got two wheels, pedals, and a seat. How different can they be? As any cycling enthusiast can tell you, the answer to that question is very! Differences in the materials and manufacturing processes that are used can make one bike feel and ride very differently from another.

One of those different manufacturing processes involves hydroforming – a process that uses fluid and high pressure to form the tube. In bicycles, this results in a frame that’s not only stronger but also sways less under pressure, allowing it to accelerate faster. A new hydroforming process (triple hydroformed) that’s being used in some bikes goes a step further and reshapes the tubes after they’ve been welded together. The resuting frame contains less material and therefore weighs less. It also provides a more comfortable ride by minimizing vibrations to the seatpost. When all is said and done, hydroforming helps create a bike that accelerates faster, climbs hills easier, and corners easier than others – qualities any cycling enthusiast would die for.

But bikes for the cycling enthusiast aren’t the only kind of bikes hydroforming is helping to improve. Electric bikes are another. Electric bikes combine human power with the power of electricity. The two working together make for a ride that’s much less strenous. Older people find them easier to ride, and commuters can arrive at work and not have to shower immediately. Sales for electric bikes have been improving in the last few years – especially amongst those looking for alternative methods of transportation. Costing between three and five cents per battery charge, it’s not hard to see why. In addition to those looking for a cheaper way to get around town, they’re also proving popular for use in businesses like deliver y services, resorts and bike rentals. Some police departments and security firms are beginning to use them as well.

Bottom line? No matter which kind of bike you’re looking for – regular or electric – you’ll probably want to look for hydroformed bicycle frames. With better handling and less weight, they make riding a breeze.

To find out how we can help you with your hydroforming needs, contact us. We’re here to serve you.

Advantages of Tubular Hydroforming

Advantages of Tubular Hydroforming

Any item that is built with a metal tube can be made more efficiently and cost effectively with tubular hydroforming. The process was first developed and used in the 1950’s. The disadvantages of pressing and stamping tubes, i.e. weak stress points, unseen defects, and uneven distribution of metal, disappear, leaving a lighter weight but stronger metal tube.

In a nutshell, tubular hydroforming involves pumping hydraulic fluid into shape at high pressure, forcing the metal evenly into all corners of the mold. The metal, aluminum, stainless steel or other metal, flows into the shape of the mold, rather than being stretched over a die, creating a stronger tube than one that has been pressed. The metal can be further heat treated to strengthen it even more.

The advantages of this process include so much more than just light weight and strength. Consider the following.

  • Unique shapes are possible with indents or angles. For instance, one end of the tube could be round, the other oval or a tube could be made with a flattened center section.
  • Even thickness of the metal with no thick or thin spots. This reduces unseen weak spots which can break more easily.
  • Cost effective. Less waste of raw metal or due to damaged finished pieces.
  • Uses less energy to produce. The process is streamlined and robotic, and doesn’t require high temperatures.
  • There is less hazard to employees since the process is done at room temperature.
  • Leaves a smooth surface ready to paint or use as is.

Whatever product using a metal tube you may produce, it is probably possible to produce it better and more inexpensively with tubular hydroforming. The inherent strength of the product produced makes this process ideal for many products and industries, not just automotive and plumbing. It’s also frequently used for bicycles and musical instruments.

Visit our website and view the video of the hydroforming process to easily understand how it works. Then contact us so we can discuss how to help you build a better product through hydroforming. It’s a call you’ll wish you made years ago.

Improving the World with Hydroforming

Improving the World with Hydroforming

Hydroforming is a cost-effective way of shaping ductile metals into stiff, strong and lightweight pieces.  Practically all metals that can be cold formed are suitable for hydroforming, and without being limited by geometric complexity, the applications are becoming endless.  Here are a few industries which utilize hydroforming:

Aerospace:  The precision and reliability of hydroformed parts is crucial to ensure success and safety in areas such as turbine construction, array antennas and construction of exterior structures.

Alternative Energies:  Much like in aerospace, the components of alternative energy machines demand a lot in form and function.  Be it solar, wind or waves, the flexibility of hydroforming production allows a wide array of metals to be utilized towards producing advanced components for the energy of the future.

Medical:  Due to not being limited by traditional manufacturing methods, hydroforming finds a good niche in producing intricate parts for medical appliances such as pace-makers and advanced prosthetics.  Being as it is so cost-effective, hydroforming has the ability to make much needed medical procedures more affordable to people who truly need them.

Home Appliances:  Hydroforming makes very asthetically pleasing products; because of the unique manufacturing process, pieces come out smooth and free from dents and blemishes.  In the appliance industry, hydroformed parts are moving into the eye’s view as they gain acceptance and use as handles and more due to these unique qualities.

Automotive:  Faster, lighter, stronger seems to always be on the minds of motor enthusiasts, and hydroformed parts fit into this category perfectly.  One of the most recognized uses for hydroforming, components made for vehicles gain durability from eliminating weak points made by traditional shaping and welding techniques.  From retrofitting late-model cars to creating tech-forward alternative fuel vehicles, you can find an application for hydroforming.

Plumbing:  Because the unique array of shapes able to be produced by hydroforming, not only is it excellent for creating strong and dependable fittings for under the sink, but hydroformed faucets and fixtures are gaining emerging acceptance as well.  Limitless arrangements are possible, giving designers unprecidented freedom to create new and beautiful products.

At American Hydroformers, we offer complete assembly level fabrication of automotive structures, as well as industrial laser cutting and stencil work in addition to our quality hydroformed and tube hydroformed products.  Contact us to see how we can improve your products today!

Automated Hydroforming Process using Robotics

Automated Hydroforming Process using Robotics

American Hydroformers announces the addition of a new automated hydroforming cell to augment current capabilities and production capacity.

Fort Wayne, IN–In an effort to continuously improve the efficiency, speed, capacity, and accuracy of their hydroforming process, American Hydroformers has implemented a new automated hydroforming cell.  With the addition of multiple robotically automated stations, American Hydroformers has not only increased production capabilities but also improved overall part precision.  Click here to watch the video of the 3 robots working in the cell.

The automated hydroforming cell employed by American Hydroformers provides a more efficient production process. By producing hydroformed parts and components faster and more cost effectively, overall part prices and turnaround times are reduced. Additionally, by utilizing a completely automated system, American Hydroformers can also better control material costs by reducing waste and scrap.

Unlike other metal forming techniques, hydroforming allows for more complex shapes, increased part strength, lower part weight, and greater design flexibility, while also improving overall part quality. Additionally, hydroforming offers tighter part tolerances with a reduction in the overall manufacturing steps required.

Founded in 2003, American Hydroformers specializes in the tube hydroforming manufacturing process. Our capabilities include numerous metal forming techniques such as hydroforming, hydraulic press work, metal stamping, and tube forming. In addition to hydroformed components, American Hydroformers offers complete assembly level fabrication of automotive structures, robotic welding, and both industrial laser and plasma cutting.

To learn more about American Hydroformers, visit our website at https://americanhydroformers.com/

If you need a hydroforming provider or wish to learn more about our business, contact us today for more details.

What is Hydroforming and Why Use It?

What is Hydroforming and Why Use It?

When many think about the manufacture of metal parts for cars, bicycles, and such,  they often think of  such processes as solid die stamping,  However, in the late 1940’s and 50’s a new process called hydroforming was developed to form metal parts, especially those with asymmetrical and irregular shapes that are difficult for stamping to form.

What is hydroforming?  Simply put, hydroforming uses a high pressure liquid to force a thin metal sheet or tube into a specialized die mold.  Almost all metals capable of being cold formed can also be hydroformed:  aluminum, brass, steel, stainless steel, and high strength alloys.   There are two types of hydroforming; sheet hydroforming and tube hydroforming.

For sheet hydroforming, a metal blank sheet is placed over the mold.  Then, in one type of sheet hydroforming, the mold is closed by a water filled bladder .Water pressure within the bladder is then increased, forcing the metal into the mold.

For tube hydroforming, a raw tube is placed between two dies.  The ends of the dies are then sealed off and water fills the tube.  The water pressure is increased until the tube takes the form of the mold.

The advantages of this process over traditional stamping are many.  It is ideal for forming complex shapes.  Hydroforming also produces parts that are more lightweight and have a higher stiffness to weight ration than stamped parts. Finally, its costs per unit are lower than stamping.

From hydroforming’s initial use in forming kitchen spouts its use has expanded to other plumbing fixtures, to widespread use in the auto and aircraft industry, to the manufacture of bicycles, and to the forming of the handles of appliances.   Hydroforming has even been used to manufacture the brass tube of the Yamaha saxophone.   It has proven itself to be an increasingly versatile tool.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about hydroforming and how it can meet your needs.

Hydroforming for Performance in the Automotive Industry

Hydroforming for Performance in the Automotive Industry

Automakers face a number of challenges in providing consumers with vehicles that are safe, fuel efficient and reliable. One way they are achieving these goals is with the use of hydroformed automotive parts. Hydroforming is a metal fabrication process that uses high pressurized fluid and a specialized type of die molding that produces parts which are lightweight, cost-effective and although thinner, have increased strength and structural integrity.

BMW has been using hydroformed parts in their high performance vehicles for several years. The BMW M3 features hydroformed exhaust tubes, for instance. Ford utilized hydroformed steel tubes in the B-pillars and a hydroformed roof rail in the 2013 Ford Fusion. The structural superiority as well as the lighter weight and reduced costs are key reasons that automakers have begun to incorporate hydroformed parts into their newer models.

Weight is increasingly a concern for both consumers and automakers due to EPA regulations regarding fuel efficiency. A lighter vehicle enjoys improved MPG, in fact, according to the EPA, every 100 pounds of extra weight in a vehicle reduces the MPG by 2 percent.

But perhaps more important than weight and MPG, is safety. Hydroformed parts have a higher stiffness to weight ratio and increased strength. The absence of welding joints means these parts have a greater ability to absorb crash energy. This means vehicles have greater crash worthiness which translates into improved safety for the occupants of the vehicle in case of a crash.

For improved safety and structural strength as well as reduced weight and overall production costs, hydroforming is a perfect solution for the performance automotive industry.

We are American Hydroformers and we specialize in the manufacture of hydroformed parts. Contact us for information on hydroforming solutions for your automotive parts needs.

Hydroforming into the Next Generation

Hydroforming into the Next Generation

Technology born in the 1940s has evolved through the decades to become the most desired manufacturing method for widely varied industries. From the shape of a saxophone, the tubes in bicycle frames, high strength automobile components, and even the new stainless steel sink installed your kitchen, hydroforming is a cost effective way to shape aluminum, brass, stainless steel, copper, alloys, and even carbon, into high strength structural components with tight tolerances.

When hydroforming, a large press is used with a punch similar to male die element in matched die forming. What would be the female element is actually a bladder full of hydraulic fluid at extreme pressures, and between the two is a metal blank. The punch presses into the bladder, shaping the metal into the desired form while leaving the surface smooth. Once pressed, the pressure is released from the bladder and the finished part is removed.

Here are some of the advantages to hydroforming:

  • Tooling costs are lower with hydroforming because the female side is a reusable bladder, only the male die and a holding ring are unique to each job.
  • Faster prototyping is possible. Various materials and material thicknesses can be used with the same tooling setup. This brings in your total project time thereby reducing development costs.
  • Complex shapes can be achieved with a single press cycle where traditional matched die forming would require multiple press cycles.
  • Hydroforming achieves outstanding surface finishes. The soft bladder leaves no lines, scratches, or surface blemishes, which would otherwise require extra time to polish out of the finished product.

At American Hydroformers, we have the expertise and the equipment to provide you with the next generation of formed metal components. From the automotive industry to the appliance business, contact our experts for more information.

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

May 1, 2013 will always be a day that the Ford Motor Company and the design team for the Ford Fusion can look back on with pride. That was the day the Steel Market Development Institue (SMDI) of the American Iron and Steel Institue awarded them the Automotive Excellence Award for 2013. Why? Because of their “innovative use of advanced high-strength steel throughout the [car’s] body structure and closures.”

So what was this innovative use? After all, high-strength steel has been used in cars for years. Turns out the Ford Fusion is the first car to make use of hydroformed steel tubes in its B-pillars – a design decision Ron Krupitzer (VP of automotive market, SMDI) believes “contributes to the vehicle’s improved side impact performance, mass reduction and roof strength.” All of which are important to the industry and consumers.

So what is tube hydroforming? Basically, it’s a process that uses a mold and hydraulic fluid to form a tube. Aluminum is placed inside a mold followed by the injection of hydraulic fluid under high-pressure. As the hydraulic fluid enters, the aluminum fills the mold evenly creating a tube that’s stronger and lighter than those created by other processes.

The automotive industry isn’t the only industry that’s discovered the advantages of tube hydroforming. The bicycle industry has as well. In traditional bicycle making, the tubes for the frame are stamped out of the material, a process which can cause weak points at the corners and rounded surfaces since the pressure used in the process is not distributed evenly. Hydroformed tubes avoid that uneven pressure and are stronger for it. In addition to their greater strength and lighter weight, hydroformed tubes also provide bicycle makers with reduced production costs, safer working conditions, and a better surface for painting and finishing.

Since it’s creation in the 1950s, the hydroforming has been used in the production of many products – from cars to bicycles to brass instruments and many other things. It’s a process whose future is bright and is sure to include many more awards and inventions.

If we can help you with your production needs, contact us. Helping you create your dream is part of our job.

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

In a layman’s term, Hydroforming is a method that is applied when producing metallic components. The technique utilizes a high pressure liquid to push a thin film inside a mold. The outcome is a seamless metallic component which is not only light in weight, but robust and durable.

Different Types of Hydro-Formed Components

There are generally two types of products that can be produced through Hydroforming. These are:

  • Customized hydro-formed components that are normally produced by the industries only by request.
  • Generic hydro-formed components that are mass produced by companies for the sole purpose of sale as well as distribution.

The cost of producing customized hydro-formed components normally hinge on several factors such as the complexity and dimension of the order. If the purpose of the fabrication is to produce parts that are to be used in complex projects, then the overhead can be high since technicians spend more time and effort in ensuring that the final product is made according to the specification of a client.

What Are the Different Types of Techniques Used in Hydroforming?

There are two types of techniques that can be applied during the Hydroforming process. These are:

  • Making use of a bladder stuffed with fluid: While using this type of technique, the technician puts an even film of metal in a mold and then covers the mold using the bladder before exerting pressure from the other end. As the pressure is increased by the technician, the bladder pushes the metal inside a mold. When the process is complete, both ends of the halves are opened to reveal the metal part. This technique is suitable for creating metal parts with high levels of details.

Tube forming: While using this technique to create metal parts, the technician seals a tube within the mold using a shape that has been cut along the strip of the tube. The mold is held in position using blocks. Thereafter, a high-pressure is forced through the metal tube which then causes the tube to expand outwards thereby allowing for the mold to form.

If you need a service provider who can help you with Hydroforming, contact us today for more details.