Archive for the Hydroforming Industry Category

Tubular Hydroforming is the Way Forward

Tubular Hydroforming is the Way Forward

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.

Benefits of Sheet Metal Hydroforming

Benefits of Sheet Metal Hydroforming

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.

  • Inexpensive:
    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.
  • Functional:
    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.

Midwest Hydroforming Boosting Alternative Energy

Midwest Hydroforming Boosting Alternative Energy

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.

Improving Bicycles with Tube Hydroforming

Improving Bicycles with Tube Hydroforming

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.

Tube Hydroforming is Beneficial

Tube Hydroforming is Beneficial

First referenced from an early 1900s process, tube hydroforming is constantly improving parts and workplace functionality. Tube hydroforming is a metal forming process where pressurized fluids form the workpiece into a shape. This technique is only now really starting to take off, though the concept of tube hydroforming has been around a while.

Until the 1980s, there was no way to economically build a tubular part with dimensional stability, design flexibility, and hole-making ability, so tubes had to be welded together from stamped parts. When tube hydroforming was fully realized and established, it satisfied a long-awaited need in the industry, which explains why tube hydroforming has gained rapid acceptance throughout the USA.

Tube hydroforming offers many benefits as compared to conventional forming techniques. The ability for deeper draws and closer control of perimeters increases part stability and prevents wrinkles and tearing. Tube hydorforming creates a part that is stiffer, less likely to have defects, and is resistant to buckling. Hydroforming replaces the stamping assemblies which are expensive and need large assembly areas and a lot of welding. The flow of the process will increase because less die is used, since the process is metal on fluid shaping and not metal on metal. Tool costs will be reduced by at least 40% because the fluid replaces half of the tooling that would be needed with welding and stamping techniques.

New capabilities for hydroforming are being found every day, as engineers learn where and how to apply tube hydroforming for best use. As a result, hydroforming is used to make more and more parts. About 15 years ago, 10% of steel in North American vehicles was tubular, while today the percentage has risen to over 16%. Tube hydroforming is steadily gaining in popularity because it lessens capital costs, reduces the number of parts needed, increases and improves structural strength of product, and offers flexibility and design quality that just does not come with welding and stamping techniques. A number of automobile industries have switched from stamping and welding to hydroforming because it is more cost-effective and creates more high-consistency parts.

For more information on tube hydroforming and hydroforming services, please contact us.

Hydroforming History

Hydroforming History

Recently, the Auto Tech Review acknowledged that without constant evolution in hydroform technology, the advancements enjoyed in the automotive world today just would not be possible:

The demand for weight reduction in modern vehicle construction has led to an increase in the application of hydroforming processes for the manufacture of automotive lightweight components. Hydroforming is a promising technology that has greater potential for automotive applications. (Auto Tech Review)

So when did the hydroforming history begin, let’s take a look.

Although it would be difficult to imagine where today’s automotive industry would be without hydroform, it must be remembered that the technique is relatively new. Based on a 1950s patent held by Fred Leuthesser, Jr. and John Fox of the Schaible Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, the process first came into its element in the 1970s when buoyed by aid of computer technology.

Originally used to produce stronger kitchen spouts, the process was eventually employed to produce bicycle parts, piping joints, as well as automotive components. Throughout the 80s and 90s, the process was adapted to produce even larger structural parts.

By the early years of the 21st century, the process of hydroforming had become well-known, and its application in the automotive world was widely acknowledged.

According to a Japanese study published in 2004 in the Nipon Steel Technical Report, the advantages to using hydroform over the traditional press forming had already become apparent and included the following:

  • Cost reduction
  • Weight reduction
  • Improvement of fatigue properties
  • Improvement of component strength
  • Simplification of work processes
  • Improvement of yield
  • Reduction of spring back
  • Capability of large deformation

To find out how the development of hydroforming technology can aid in the production of your product, please feel free to contact us.

Tubular Hydroforming

Tubular Hydroforming

Most of us have never considered the world of hydroforming or tubular hydroforming. The components made from these methods have permeated a great many areas of our lives from the vehicles we drive to the bikes we ride. Have you ever stopped to consider all the possibly applications of tube forming? Most of us think of automotive or, perhaps, architectural applications for hydroformed tubes. However, you’re just as likely to find hydroformed tubes in anything you can think of that you’d need a high strength, light weight tube for. Here we’ll take a look at the world of fitness to see where you’ll find hyrdroformed tubes.

In the world of fitness, you can use tube forming to make the following parts:

  • Tubular frame rails
  • Levers
  • Brackets
  • Shafts
  • Spacers
  • Pedals
  • Clamps

Many of these parts are obvious. They are the large and small hollow tubes that make up the structure of the machine. You’ll find the frame rails on the sides so you don’t fall of the machine, levers in the braking mechanisms of bikes. Around the gears and wheels you’ll find shafts and spacers. Clamps are usually found around the frame to keep the wires for the electronics safely tucked away.

However, these aren’t the only parts that are made for fitness machines; these are just the ones that use tube forming processes. In a similar process called sheet hydroforming the following parts for fitness machines can be made:

  • Leverlers
  • Flywheels
  • Mounting plates

While all of these parts are standardised for various types of machines, the beauty of tube forming for components is that they can be made-to-order for a custom design! So, if you want to start fix or design your own fitness gear, all you have to do is get the specifications for your design and leave the rest up to us.

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.

Part Analysis

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

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.