In the metal forming industry ‘hydroforming’ has become somewhat of a buzzword and general term for metal shaping. But there are many ways of shaping metal in this industry, all with their own unique advantages.
Deep draw hydroforming is a process by witch metal sheets (commonly referred to as ‘blanks’) are formed into parts by being drawn through a die by a punch. The edges of the blank are held in place by clamps called ‘blank holders’ while the punch pushes the metal sheet into an opening to shape it. The punched piece can also be put through the process again to ultimately increase the height and reduce the diameter of the punched item. This second pass is usually known as a redraw. Draws can be done multiple times until the desired height and diameter are reached.
Approximately 40% of the blank diameter can be drawn in one pass, with one set of tools. To continue increasing height and decreasing diameter, multiple draws must be done to avoid punching through the bottom of the blank. Of course, percentages will vary depending on type of metal, blank thickness, quality of materials, and what shape the final item is being formed into.
As previously mentioned, different types of metal stand up to being drawn better than others. One of the best for this process is aluminum. It is strong yet lightweight, easily drawn, readily accepts a host of finishes, has a pleasing appearance, and can be shipped without worry that it will rust. On top of all that, tooling aluminum is cheaper than generally any other metal. Other good metals for this type of tooling include copper, stainless steel, and brass.
For more information on hydroforming and metal shaping in general, feel free to contact us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sheet Metal Hydroforming is similar to the conventional deep-drawing technique, but has significant advantages for the formed part and keeps the tooling costs and production costs low.
Below is the list of t benefits of sheet metal hydroforming, as opposed to the conventional deep-drawing technique.
Hydroforming tooling can cost less than half the price of standard press tooling. Tooling generally required is a male die and a draw ring. The rubber diaphragm typically acts as a universal female die in the sheet metal hydroform machine.
Irregularly contoured shapes are easily formed using hydroforming, it also makes it easy to form irregular shapes and contours because matching dies are not generally needed.
- No Need to Waste Time Thinning Material Out:
No need to waste time stretching. Hydroforming flows the metal rather than stretching it as a result you will have less wall thinning.
- Less Work:
Usually parts require multiple operations with a typical press, with hydroforming most of the operations can be condensed into one operation.
- Save Money:
Since almost all punches and draw rings are made of inexpensive cast iron, hardened tool steels are therefore not often needed. These type of tools carry a longer life span. Sheet metal hydroforming offers a wrapping action of diaphragm which does not cause scuff marks, shock, and stretch lines.
- Quick Set Up:
Tools are able to be mounted easily and quickly they are also self-centering and self aligning. Set-up times are much quicker and very efficient.
- Durability of Materials:
Almost all sheet metals can be hydroformed such as stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, copper, brass, precious metals, high strength alloys. The material’s thickness varies within the restrictions of the machine. Usually tool modifications are not required.
As you can see sheet hydroforming as its many benefits. If you would like more information please contact us with any question you may have.
In 2009, the New York Times predicted that more and more states would look to harvest clean energy along highways and interstates by installing rows of turbines. Anyone who’s recently driven down Interstate 65 in Indiana or I-155 in Illinois can attest to that fact. Soon Kansas will join their ranks, having passed a bill in the state legislature to boost Kansas’s wind industry.
As more and more states take advantage of the benefits of wind energy, they’re only keeping pace with what’s happening on an international level. Around the world, groups are coming together to boost global consumption of clean alternative energy sources. Take Brazil, for example, which in 2012 saw two international companies coming together to build and operate two large-scale wind farms in Brazil’s northeast.
[We’ve] been seeking options to meet this demand, on a sustainable way, using renewable sources such as hydro, wind and biomass. The option to develop wind projects also helps diversify our energy matrix, reduce our emissions and ensure cost competiveness in the long term. (Vânia Somavilla)
With a global boost in wind energy production, there is, of course, a global increase in the need for components necessary to the Alternative Energy sector.
The midwest hydroforming industry aids by producing components for solar, wind, and nuclear power mechanisms.
As the Midwest sees and uptick in alternative energy consumption, it also sees an increased necessity of hydroforming in the Midwest.
If you have questions regarding how you can take advantage of our hydroforming expertise, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to doing our part to create a brighter, cleaner, more energy-efficient future.
What is tube hydroforming? It is a metal shaping method that is replacing stamping and pressing because of its quality products and cost-effectiveness. Tube hydroforming is used to create countless products: automotive exhaust components, sink faucets, hand rails, rifle scopes, sporting goods, and bicycle frame components. More bicycles than cars are sold in the USA every year. Last year, approximately 19 million bikes were purchased. When looking for a bike, people pay close attention to the weight and stability of the bike’s frame, because all these factors make the difference between a heavy, awkward bike and one that is light and easy to maneuver.
The tube hydroforming process offers the best features of an aluminum bicycle frame. Often when a manufacturer makes a bike frame, they press or stamp the components for the frame, but the problem is that this creates weak points that the eye cannot see. Tube hydroforming, however, creates a sturdy frame, because the hydraulic fluid is pumped into the frame at high pressure, creating evenly molded aluminum without any weak spots. The process produces interesting shapes and a thickness in the material, leaving a stronger and lighter tube to be used in the frame system.
Not only are manufacturers improving bicycles with tube hydroforming, but it also saves the manufacturers money, thus reducing bike costs for consumers. The manufacturer saves a lot of funds on tools that would have been needed for stamping and pressing techniques. Hydroforming is also done at room temperature, and the die used to cast material can be used over again, saving a lot of money on energy and material costs.
Hydroforming is a reliable and trusted process. Consumers have started specifically looking for hydro-formed bicycle frames because of the frames’ sturdiness, light weight, and pleasing appearance.
For more information about tube hydroforming, our services, and experience, please contact us.