When the right situation presents itself, sheet metal hydroforming will be an efficient and cost-effective manufacturing process. However, the situation will depend on the project and the type of equipment that will be available.
Archive for the What is Sheet Hydroforming Category
Have you been looking for a cost-effective way to form your ductile metals into parts that are not only structurally firm but have strong parts? One of the best methods you can use in this industry is known as hydroforming. Hydroforming is a unique kind of die forming that uses a high amount of hydraulic fluid to turn the ductile metals into the shape you need.
Metal hydroforming is not anything new, but it does offer an appropriate alternative that some manufacturers may not be considering. If your organization or company does not currently own any hydroforming equipment or operate any hydroforming equipment, how do you make the decision on whether hydroforming can be the appropriate method for your upcoming sheet metal project?
What is hydroforming? Hydroforming is when the force of water, hydraulic fluids, or oils is used to shape a single part. There are two types of hydroforming and each has uses when creating products from steel, aluminum, etc. Hydroforming, used in industries, creates parts without using welds. This makes a stronger part and sometimes a product is created from a single piece of metal. So, what are the two types of hydroforming? They are Tube Hydroforming and Sheet Hydroforming.
Though tube hydroforming has humble roots, it has taken those roots and firmly planted them in industry, design, and innovation.
For instance, take a look at how much innovation has gone into biking. Thanks to lightweight tube hydroforming, bicycles are more agile and lighter than all previous designs and models.
Mountain bikes are more popular than they ever have been before, thanks to tube hydroforming. They are also more sturdy than ever before, which is something that attracts manufacturers to the tube hydroforming process when the design phase begins.
How does the process begin?
As with most design and industry, the process starts with an idea. From there, designers and engineers work hard on computers to formulate and adopt a plan. Then, after many more hours of time and research, the prototype is produced on a 3D CAD. Sometimes the initial design is worthy of the work, and other times it is scrapped and redone. Oftentimes, many mockups are worked through before the final selection is made.
What happens next?
In the case of mountain bikes, materials like aluminum are selected and reviewed. Then, as this article on a new mountain bike design points out, many things go into the final product:
[The process] combines several common aluminium construction types — hydroforming, taper butting, mechanical shaping, 3D forging, double-pass smooth welding, post-weld heat-treat — to tailor the ride quality as much as possible.
This type of design and scheme is virtually the same across all tube hydroforming development. It’s a labor-intensive process that yields some of most durable and lightest products available today.
For more information on the tube hydroforming process, please contact us anytime. Since 2003, American Hydroformers has been setting new standards in the hydroforming industry for tube hydroformed structures, parts, and components.
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 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.
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.