Archive for the Metal Fabrication Category

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.

Innovative Uses of Sheet Hydroforming

Innovative Uses of Sheet Hydroforming

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.

Advancements in Metal Stamping

Advancements in Metal Stamping

Hard on the heels of the announcement that General Motors has opened a new metal stamping plant in Arlington, Texas, comes further information regarding how the opening of this new plant has impacted the overall economics of automobile production.

According to the Wall Street Journal, with the decision to open a metal stamping plant right next door to its assembly line, GM not only shortens its supply chain and saves money in shipping, but it also puts added pressure on its competitor Ford to keep up with the resultant boost in output.

“We want to be ruthless about waste. Whether it is a part design, packaging or shipping, we don’t want it,” GM purchasing chief Grace Lieblein told the [Wall Street Journal]. “It may be a few thousand save here or few million saved there but it adds up.” (Metal Miner)

But the effects of this move could be much more far-reaching.

With auto makers around the world still refining the same basic mass-production techniques pioneered one hundred years ago by Henry Ford, competition to develop the best and most efficient manufacturing and assembly techniques is strong.

With GM moving its metal stamping closer to its assembly plant, Ford compensates with “advanced manufacturing technologies [that] include lower-cost, faster stamping processes that reduce the time it takes to produce sheet-metal parts. It also uses three-dimensional drawings to create prototypes of components that can be tested in days rather than months.”

With metal stamping and hydroforming both integral components in automotive production, it will be fascinating in the days to come to watch market forces drive further development in these technologies.

For more information on further developments in metal stamping and hydroforming, please feel free to contact us.

Hydroformed Components: New Metals on the Market

Hydroformed Components: New Metals on the Market

There has been recent news about hydroforming bringing titanium to the masses. Until recently, it was difficult to use titanium on a commercial scale because of the cost as compared to the more affordable but weaker alternatives such as stainless steel. Hydroforming has pioneered cost saving methods to take advantage of titanium and its benefits.

But titanium isn’t the only alloy that has advantages for hydroformed components. Kinesium is a relatively new alloy that holds great potential by using the favorable aspects of both titanium and aluminum:

  • Kinesium is 25% stronger than 7005 series aluminum
  • The greater concentration of titanium allows for improved hardness and tensile strength
  • Kinesium is lightweight, partially because of the aluminum, but also because the greater strength allows for a thinner wall thickness in tubing
  • Kinesium is very affordable as an alloy because of its aluminum content

The company who created Kinesium, Kinesis, was specifically testing for an alloy that could make better bicycle frames. The innovation and opportunities provided by hydroforming have allowed this company to expand the possibilities of this alloy. The use of hydroforming also allowed Kinesis to create a shape that can withstand stresses experience by high performance bikes:

 

“Our Hydroformed tube shapes are designed to increase the effective strength of the frame by distributing stresses over a broad section of the tubes, instead of allowing them to be concentrated in small areas… The Hydroformed gussets and multi-section tube shapes are achieved with virtually no added weight.” (Kinesis UK)

 

For cyclists, hydroformed components made of Kinesium mean cost-effective and higher quality bicycle frames. For the industry, hydroformed kinesium offers a lightweight yet incredibly strong alternative for parts with complex geometries that can stand up to more stress than traditional metals and traditional metal stamping. The future is bright for other commercial uses, from the automotive to more personal uses around the household.

Hydroforming is taking the lead on innovative uses for new alloys. To learn more about hydroforming and about how to exercise its capabilities, please contact us.

Understanding Metal Stamping and Its Many Uses

Understanding Metal Stamping and Its Many Uses

Metal stamping is a process which includes the stamping or pressing of sheet metal into different forms. Some of the different types of metal stamping include punching, deep drawing, pressing, embossing, bending, flanging, and coining to name a few. The most common medium for metal stamping is sheet metal but it can be performed on other types of materials such as polystyrene. The process of stamping can produce an specified object repeatedly normally within a few steps which makes stamping economically favorable.

In many cases the initial process of stamping involves a simulation process. A metal working firm can take specs, measurements, and blueprints in order to perform a test run on the product being stamped. Once the test pieces are made, they can be tested for durability. These tests can include the analysis of possible defects such as wrinkling, splits, and thinning. This simulation saves the hiring manufacturing company time and money since the analysis performed produces a minute batch of product for testing.

Because of its versatility, metal stamping can benefit a wide range of industries. The automotive industry uses metal stamping often in order to produce a large amount of parts with minimal man power and resources. The marine industry, medical industry, construction industry, and aerospace technology industry all use metal stamping to manufacture their parts and products.

American Hydroformers has been a metal working industry leader since 2003. They have produced exceptional quality products for a variety of industries; coupling their expert metal forming capabilities with a strong focus on customer satisfaction. American Hydroformers uses cutting-edge technology in order to ensure your final product exceeds your expectations.

While American Hydroformers technology revolves around hydroforming, we may have an alternative application different from stamping that could be economically more feasible.

Please, contact us for more information.

Hydroforming Advantages for Automotive

Hydroforming Advantages for Automotive

Hydroforming metal is one of the most cost effective ways of creating asymmetrical parts for the automotive industry. Many parts used on cars today have irregular shapes making traditional methods of manufacturing more cumbersome and expensive. The strength and weight of hydroformed parts also lends to better produced products which are easier to work while maintaining an overall better structural integrity. Here are some other hydroforming advantages that make it one of the best choices for fabricating parts for the automotive industry:

  • Reduced tooling costs: When manufacturing parts the traditional way, jigs and other forms must be manufactured before the process of fabrication begins. If a company only needs a small quantity of the manufactured parts, the increase in cost for tooling greatly affects the bottom line.
  • Increased quality and precision: Hydroforming uses a technique which employs a press, pressurized fluid, and a punch. This process is not only quicker than traditional types of fabrication, it also ensures greater accuracy because their are less steps in the process of hydroforming than traditional manufacturing.
  • Deep-drawing with less stretch: Hydroforming uses less friction in the manufacturing process. Deep draws can be performed with less material stretch. This means the product will have a better integrity as well as less blemishing; in turn requiring less finishing work.
  • The versatility of hydroforming: Steel, copper, brass, aluminum, alloys, etc can be manufactured into parts using the hydroform process. When dealing with these types of materials, many additional efforts must be put into place with traditional fabrication processes as to not damage or weaken the material.

In the automotive industry material strength is essential for safety. The race industry has especially seen benefits from the light weight and structurally sound parts developed as a result of hydroforming. As hybrid vehicle become more and more popular, hydroforming has played an integral part in keeping cars efficient through bettering the manufacturing process. When looking for hydroformed parts you can depend on for strength and lasting durability, please contact  the experts at American Hydroforming.

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.