Archive for the Finite Element Analysis Category

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.

What is Hydroforming

What is Hydroforming

Every time you drive a motor vehicle, fly in an airplane or ride a bicycle, hydroforming was likely used as part of their manufacture. Hydroforming provides a number of advantages when compared to other alternative methods of metal shaping. By learning more about what is hydroforming, understanding the significance of this process in our daily life should be possible.

The Standard Concept

Aluminum is a malleable material that is often molded using hydroforming. Two processes can be used during the hydroforming process for manipulation. The first is using high pressure hydraulic fluid to produce a certain shape with the metal. The metal (typically a flat sheet) is placed inside a container with a mold. The container is sealed off and hydraulic fluid injected until a certain pressure is achieved. This pressure causes the metal to mold to the shape of the dye. A variation of this concept involves the manipulation of a hollow tube of metal. The hollow tube is placed inside of a negative mold and fluid is injected into the inside of the tube, causing it to expand into the shape of the mold.

Low Pressure Versus High Pressure Tube Hydroforming

In tube hydroforming, two methods are typically used. The only difference between the two are the pressures used and when they are applied. In high pressure hydroforming, the tube is exposed to high pressures (typically between 1500 and 2000 bars) only after being closed in the dye of the hydraulic press. In low pressure hydroforming, the tube is exposed to a low pressure of between 120-180 bars before being closed in the dye of the hydraulic press. According to Metal Working World Magazine, “The material does not collapse, taking the die shape, but simply it is uniformly stretched (thus avoiding the corrugations of the inner surface that are instead frequently present in the high pressure method), like in a pre-forming process.”

Be sure to contact us at American Hydroformers if you have any questions about what is hydroforming.