Archive for the Hydroforming Industry Category

Aluminum Hydroforming Leaves Its Mark

Aluminum Hydroforming Leaves Its Mark

As automotive and mountain-biking companies begin to roll out sneak peeks at their 2015 lineups, it is becoming increasingly apparent just how much new advancements in hydroforming aluminum have affected both industries overall. This is pleasing because since aluminum is lighter than carbon and stainless steel, the use of hydroformed aluminium in car parts has opened new vistas of possibilities for increased effectiveness and decreased weight.

Take for example the 2015 lineup from the German biking company Merida. According to a recent article, next year’s lineup boasts more aluminium than ever, including a new Reacto aero bike featuring a very special frame:

The frame in question is made from hydroformed triple-butted 6066 aluminium with a tapered head tube and an integrated seat clamp like you’ll find on the carbon models. It looks like a high-quality piece of work in a very good grade of alloy (road.cc).

Looking beyond the world of cycling to the automotive realm, we see that Ford has certainly taken advantage of new opportunities provided by aluminum hydroforming.

Proof of this can be easily witnessed in their new 2015 line, which includes an all-aluminum body for its new F-150. In fact, the new F-150 was a recent spotlight by Ford’s purchasing chief Hau Thai-Tang, citing that the vehicle is the the first pickup with an aluminum body. As a result, it is on average about sixty pounds lighter. The F-150 still incorporates a steel frame, however, for improved rigidity (Auto News).

With new advancements being made all the time in the area of aluminium hydroforming, we look forward to many more companies taking advantage of these techniques to provide vehicles and machinery that are not only lighter and more durable but are also more cost-effective.

For more information about this or anything else, please feel free to contact us.

Three Applications for Tube Hydroforming Aluminum

Three Applications for Tube Hydroforming Aluminum

While most people are only vaguely aware of the concept of hydroforming and its many benefits, even fewer are well-versed in the specifics of tube hydroforming aluminum. The unfortunate truth is that although they often benefit from the results, most people are unaware of how this process actually influences their daily lives.

Three Applications for Aluminum Hydroforming:

  1. Mountain Bikes. We list this one first because it is probably one of the better known applications. Thanks to recent developments in aluminum hydroforming, mountain bike frames are now more sleek and lightweight than ever.
  2. Automotive Body Panels. Within the last few years, the overall emphasis on energy consumption and the desire on the part of auto makers to produce cars that are fuel-efficient have together led manufacturers to desire more lightweight designs in order to minimize fuel consumption. As early as 2012, it was suggested that sheet hydroforming techniques could be used to produce aluminum body panels, which would significantly lighten vehicle weight. We look forward to seeing how these ideas take shape in the days to come.
  3. Medical Device Manufacturing. Thanks to hydroforming technology, medical devices made from aluminium, titanium, stainless steel, and other composites can now be produced with lower cost and higher product quality than ever before. According to a recent article in Today’s Medical Developments, “Sheet hydroforming and the accompanying technologies are helping medical device manufactures prepare for the future. With these technologies, device manufacturers can stay ahead of government regulations, implement a leaner manufacturing environment, and bring products to market faster while delivering higher profit margins.”

Although hydroforming techniques mostly center on carbon steel and stainless steel, we look forward to seeing more applications of tube hydroforming aluminum in the days to come. For more information on this, or anything else, please feel free to contact us.

American Hydroformers provides metal fabricating solutions using the most advanced hydroforming processes available. Our manufacturing expertise includes hydroforming, hydraulic press work, laser cutting and various other metal forming techniques.

Difference Between Research and Development Dies and Production Dies

Difference Between Research and Development Dies and Production Dies

As has been noted previously on this blog, there is a standard protocol followed for most hydroforming procedures:

  • First a raw tube is loaded into hydroforming dies.
  • Next, the hydroforming press closes.
  • The sealing rods engage the part, seal the ends and fill it with water pressure inside the part increases.
  • The sealing rods push the tube into the die (endfeed) and the internal pressure is ramped to its maximum value.
  • The hydroformed part takes on the shape of the die.
  • Finally, the hydroformed part is removed and ready for use.

As you can see, dies are a critical component to hydroforming. Without them, the process would be impossible. What you may not know, however, is that not all dyes are created equal. In fact, there are distinct differences between dies intended for research and development and those intended to be used in production.

Knowing Your Dies: the Difference Between Research and Development Dies and Production Dies: 

Research and Development Dies

Typically made out of a softer material, research and development dies enable the die manufacturer to customize the die quickly and allow researchers to get directly into the die in-house. They can then try it out for themselves, allowing for custom machining to the die in-house to get the part to fit their purposes perfectly.

Production Dies

High production dies are typically made out of strong, hardened materials so that the dies can be used to manufacture hundreds of thousands of parts. They are send directly to manufacturers who are looking to produce high-quality parts to be used in cars, bicycles, and so forth.

Understanding the difference between research and development dies and production dies will help you to navigate the hydroforming world and all of its intricacies with greater ease of understanding.

Questions? Comments? For more information on this or anything else on our website, please feel free to contact us.

High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

With the use of hydroformed parts becoming increasingly common in the automotive and cycling worlds, many people are now more aware of the process used to shape ductile metals into pieces that are both lightweight and strong. But while awareness of the hydroforming process has been on the rise, fewer people know of the high-temperature metal gas forming process and its benefits.

For high-temperature metal gas forming, there are four basic stages. While they are similar to those of hydroforming, there are several distinct differences which set the process apart.

The Four Stages of High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

First, the blank is placed into the die and the ends are sealed. After this is done, the tube is pressurized. Then the docking rods then feed the material into the die, where the combination of internal pressure and simultaneous material feeding forms the tube.

Doesn’t seem too different from basic hydroforming, you might say. An understandable observation, but allow us to point out the main forming difference: the part formed at the superplastic temperature conforms precisely to the dimensions of the die.

The Benefits of High-temperature Metal Gas Forming

While quite similar to hydroforming in process in its steps, this technique allows for higher precision and yield. This in turn not only saves the industries that use it time and money, but it also produces a quality product that is that much more effective for the consumer.

In conclusion, although this process is less well-known, it is certainly no less important. Because of it, we have more better-quality sporting equipment, more advanced technologies in the aerospace and automotive industries, and (perhaps more importantly to some of us) better-working indoor plumbing.

For more information on hydroforming, the benefits of high-temperature metal gas forming, or anything else, please feel free to contact us.

Hydroforming Aluminum Can Help Reduce Weight Of Components

Hydroforming Aluminum Can Help Reduce Weight Of Components

Hydroforming is a method that shapes metal into strong pieces that are also light, in regards to the weight. There are many different industries that use hydroforming. However, the vehicle industry is probably one of the largest applicators of hydroforming. The method has mostly been popular among the production of cars that are known as the “high-end” cars. One of the materials that is frequently used is aluminium.

Previously, there was a focus on traditional stamping and parts that were welded. Hydroforming has certainly emerged into a practical method of manufacturing because of the need to lower the weight of the different components. There has also been a transition of steel to aluminum. Aluminum is making outstanding progress in the industry. When hydroforming aluminum you will receive an even, nice-looking finish that will not need any extra additions or tooling. You will receive the nice finish because the female die gets replaced by a diaphragm made of rubber.

The fluid in the hydraulic is pumped into a component at a very high pressure, and the aluminum is molded into a shape very evenly. The result will be a distinctive shape that has a thickness in the material. Hydroforming aluminum sheets can be a bit challenging sometimes because all of the shapes will not always be symmetrical and regularly shaped.

Some people may want to try cold-forming, but not every cold-forming method will have the necessities to handle all of the tough demands. Since there are some tough aluminum parts that will need plenty of work to form, hydroforming will be the best answer. The hydroforming methods for the different shaped aluminum parts will not cost as much as other methods, like cold-forming.

We certainly understand how several needs are unique. We also understand how important it is to save time and money when it comes to the process of hydroforming aluminum.

Contact us for more information on the benefits of hydroforming aluminum.

Beneficial Complexity: Finite Element Analysis

Beneficial Complexity: Finite Element Analysis

The use of FEA or Finite Element Analysis further advances the hydroforming industry by eliminating the impediments of inefficiency and expense.

Finite Element Analysis  is a method using numerical techniques of calculus variations to solve boundary value problems. This process uses computer model designs to connect elemental equations over sub domains to approximate the values over larger regions. The models are then stressed and analyzed to decipher the correct procedure in manufacturing the product.

Not only does FEA allow for new designs to be created without the prospect of a test failure, but it can also enhance the design of pre-existing products.

With the use of the FEA method, the hydroforming industry can further advance production by expediting procedures with fewer miscalculations. The finite element designs optimize the control process of parameter by selecting the correct calculation to prevent excessive thinning or premature wrinkling. Overall, the process minimizes error function and produces a stable solution. This allows for larger tube expansion in the dual hydroforming process.

With greater sensitivity analysis, the FEA method facilitates the precise design of both die shapes and die geometrics. By controlling the parameters through mathematical calculations, the overall forming procedures become more accurate. The hydroforming process is complex in itself and numerous factors have to be calculated accurately to construct a working product. Determining a forming window can be experimental through trial and error which is both less effective and more expensive.

Shabbir Memom writes,“In order to have a successful hydroforming process, it is imperative to optimize the process parameters such as loading path and feed rate along with friction and keep it within the range of forming window.”

He goes on to discus that without facilitating the finite element analysis methods, some hydroforming designs would be impossible.

For more information on the advancement of FEA methods within the hydroforming industry, please feel free to contact us.

CAFE Standards to Increase Fuel Savings

CAFE Standards to Increase Fuel Savings

CAFE standard is not a recipe for an espresso macchiato – even if that is your favorite drink. It is, however, the industry standard for keeping your espresso macchiato affordable by producing lighter vehicles that increase the average fuel economy. Better fuel economy = less expense on transport = affordable espresso macchiato…ya dig?

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (aka, CAFE) is a government regulated and enforced standard for all cars and light trucks sold in the United States. Vehicles that do not match their “footprint” to the CAFE standard are penalized with higher taxes, and the owners of those vehicles are penalized at the pump. The average fuel economy in the 1970’s when the CAFE standard was first enacted was slightly less than 19 mpg (!) while today, most mid-sized passenger cars are expected to meet a minimum fuel economy of 35.2 mpg or better. (1)

But the CAFE standard is not just looking at miles per gallon, it was also enacted to encourage continual improvement in fuel economy and vehicle efficiency. CAFE is monitored by multiple government agencies and overseen by the U.S. Congress.

“U.S. Congress specifies that CAFE standards must be set at the “maximum feasible level” given consideration for:

  1. technological feasibility;
  2. economic practicality;
  3. effect of other standards on fuel economy;
  4. need of the nation to conserve energy.” (2)

That is where American Hydroformers and the CAFE standard go hand in hand. It is our mission at American Hydroformers to continually improve our manufacturing processes utilizing tube hydroforming that produces lighter parts for lighter vehicles. Our revolutionary hydroforming process is the most viable solution for the future of parts manufacturing, making lighter parts for lighter cars, ultimately setting higher industry standards for fuel economy.

Contact us to see what American Hydroforming can do for your manufacturing today!

(1) Corporate Average Fuel Economy, Wikipedia, July 22, 2014.

(2) ibid

Hydroforming Versus Stamping

Hydroforming Versus Stamping

Hydroforming versus Stamping?  That is the question.

Metal stamping has been used in the production of consumer goods and products for a very long time. Some even believe that the history of metal stamping can be traced back to blacksmithing, tinsmithing, silversmithing, and so on. It’s a venerable, old method that deserves it place in history but is being outpaced rapidly by hydroforming.

Sheet metal hydroforming (and especially the deep draw and tubular techniques), as a means of manufacturing complex-shaped load-bearing parts, is relatively new by comparison. But as noted, is quickly becoming the chosen manufacturing staple of many industries for several specific parts, including the automobile, plumbing, and appliance.

The Manufacturing Process: Metal Stamping

Each item in the process is stamped out from a blank, using mechanical or hydraulic stamping lines, with a production rate of about 500 pieces an hour. Then, each component goes through the process of blanking, trimming, and forming of the die, which leaves an overall scrap waste of about 20 percent. Then finally, is ready for assembly by MIG or spot welding. The entire process takes about 60 hours per assembly.

The Manufacturing Process: Hydroforming

The same product going through the hydroforming process is started from a rolled tubular section. Which typically comes pre-cut to the desired length and end-cut for each component. Next, a computer numerically controlled (CNC) begins bending the tubes into the desired shape, which is then hydroformed by a hydraulic press. The component is then removed from the press, and trimmed if necessary (usually less than 10 percent waste, sometimes zero).

Overall Winner: Hydroforming

While metal stamping has many positives, and still has a place in production, the advantages of hydroforming are numerous, including:

  • Weight reduction
  • Part reduction
  • Cost-effective assembly and component costs
  • Cost-effective tooling costs
  • Greater strength (stiffness; rigidity)
  • Great dimensional (geometric) stability

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

Hydroforming DP 780 Steel Tubes

Hydroforming DP 780 Steel Tubes

The advancement in high strength steel can be seen by the use of hydroforming DP 780 Steel tubes . It provides an innovative technology that can not only lower the cost of steel frame fabrication, but also optimize industrial use. When the DP 780 tubes are hydroformed, they provide a lighter but stronger steel frame.

Below are the results according to an article explaining the strength of internal pressure for the end feed (EF) of hydroformed DP 780 tubes.

  • At zero  EF the average pressure burst was 70 MPa or 10,075psi
  • With an EF of 50%, the hydroformed DP 780 tubes could withstand an internal pressure of 151.7 MPa or 22,000psi

The dimensional capability of this steel will be the future in our automotive industry. The design flexibility along with the lower cost and increased strength using the hydroformed DP 780 tubing allows for improvement in crash-worthiness among motor vehicles.

In 2013 Ford introduced its new Ford Fusion vehicle featuring hydrofromed DP 780 tubes used for its B-pillar and A-pillar roof rails.  Ford’s technical leader, Shawn Morgan quotes from an article found in SAE international,

“Using hydroforming instead of hot-stamped welded sheet to create the     car’s roof-pillar structure reduced mass, saved cost, reduced the bill of     material, and helped improve the new Fusion’s crash performance.”

Environmentalists will also approve of this new found technology. The use of dual phase steel provides not only a stronger and lighter means of transportation, but also decreases the amount of carbon dioxide emission given off by those vehicles. The use of hydroforming the stronger, more versatile DP 780 tubes does so without sacrificing the passengers safety if an accident were to occur.

For more information on hydroforming DP 780 steel or it’s usage please contact us.

Deep Draw Hydroforming Process

Deep Draw Hydroforming Process

What is Sheet Metal Hydroforming?

Sheet metal hydroforming is a metal forming process that is achieved by applying force to sheet metal to alter its overall geometric shape as opposed to added or subtracting any materials. The applied force used in production alters the sheet metal’s yield strength, causing the metal to bend but not to cause failure. Sheet metal can be bent into many complex shapes by using this process.

A great example of how some sheet  hydroformers uses this deep draw hydroforming technique is below.

Deep Drawing

Deep draw hydroforming is a process of sheet metal hydroforming similar to most techniques, but differs in execution. Sheet metal is stretched and bent into a desired shape. This is done when a tool pushes down onto sheet metal, forcing it into a die cavity in a pre-set shape. The tensile force causes the metal to form into a cup shape.

The deep drawing process begins with a blank, a blank holder, a punch, and a die. The blank, or piece of sheet metal, is placed into the blank holder over top of the die. The cavity of which is the shape of the desired part. Then, a tool called a punch moves downward onto the blank and “draws,” or bends/stretches the part into the desired shape, but does not alter its strength.

The parts can have a variety of cross sections, and can have straight, tapered, or even curved walls, but the most common shapes are cylinders and rectangles. The deep draw process is most commonly used with ductile metals like aluminum, copper, and a mild steel. Some examples of deep draw parts are automotive bodies/frames, fuel tanks, cans, cups, kitchen sinks, and pots and pans.

For additional information on how we can help you contact us any time.