Archive for the What is Tube Hydroforming? Category

History and Processes of Tube Hydroforming

History and Processes of Tube Hydroforming

Hydroforming has been one of the most cost effective methods of forming and shaping metals for decades. Several variations of hydroforming methods have come about over the years, each serving a different purpose.

In tube hydroforming, there are two widely recognized practices; high pressure and low pressure. During the high pressure process, the tube to be shaped is enclosed in a die before pressurization begins. Previously known as the Variform process, the low pressure method starts by the tube being pressurized to a pre-determined volume during the closing of the die. The tube is held in place and sealed at both ends by axial punches. The axials on both sides are moveable, this movement being required in the process to provide axial compression, and to feed material towards the center of the tube. In both methods, hydrolic fluid is pushed into the tube through one of the punches, increasing the pressure within until the tube expands outwards and the desired shape is reached.

Historically, the tube hydroforming process was patented in the 50’s. However, it wasn’t until the 70’s that the process was widely used in an industrial scale. Back then, it was used for the production of large T-shaped joints for the oil and gas industry. Today, tube hydroforming is an important part in the automotive industry where many important applications can be found. Tube hydroforming is also the method of choice for the tubular bodies of bicycles, and the various components of motorcycles.

Since its inception in the 50’s tube hydroforming has been an essential part of the manufacturing industry. If you would like to know more about hydroforming and it’s variations, feel free to visit our website or contact us.

Hydroforming Prototyping

Hydroforming Prototyping

If there was one aspect about engineering that hydroforming could benefit, it would be the prototype process. However, the act of producing hydroformed products that are more easily testable than a life sized models, in terms of limits, structure, and so on, is more of a pipe dream than a reality. Time and cost often outweighs means. But it doesn’t have to be that way, enter hydroforming prototyping.

Hydroforming Prototypes

Hydroforming is a special method in which metals are bent and shaped. It is very often found in use in the auto industry, but many industries have adopted the benefits of hydroformed products.

How this works with prototyping is like this: A prototype is introduced, it is scanned into a computer where a simulated process tests the endurance and stability of the product, giving feedback to the designer so that they can then makes changes. This not only benefits the design, but also the cost.

Further, computer prototyping allows the design engineer the ability to test various geometrically designed parts (this is especially true in sheet hydroforming, or SHF) for stress and cohesion. This allows for quick changes and even quicker results. It also gives the engineer an idea what real life stresses may do so that they can alter the design as necessary.

Working in Tandem With You

The collaborative process not only benefits those who have put their hard work into the design process, it also aids us in gathering a greater understanding about the product you want hydroformed. Because theoretical designs are often subject to real world failure, prototyping them is a cost-effective measure that prevents loss for your company.

Want more information on hydroforming prototyping? Contact us any time, or click here here to request a quote.

7 Benefits of Hydroforming

7 Benefits of Hydroforming

A cost-effective way of forming certain metals into strong lightweight structures is by hydroforming. This can be done with aluminum, brass, low alloy steels and stainless steel.

Starting with a blank metal tube the tube expands into the desired shape when placed in a customized tool specifically designed for this purpose. The tool closes around the tube and the hydraulic rams are used to seal off the ends while water is forced into the interior of the tube.  You can see an animated hydroforming process here on this page, what is hydroforming.

When the required water pressure is reached the metal transforms into the shape of the mold. At the same time the hydraulic rams are computer-driven to each end of the tube so smooth, thick walls are formed as the metal expands turning it into attractive, repeatable shapes.Once the water is disposed of and the part removed the system moves on to the next blank tube.

Seven main benefits of hydroforming:

1. Much fewer welds are required

Previously, if wanted to transform metal into different shapes a lot of individual sections had to be welded together but hydroforming enables the metal tube to be turned into long, complex shapes with a reduced number of welds that reduces resistance and improves the efficiency of the airflow.

2. Few Steps in the Process

The whole process can be done in a much quicker time, often taking as little as 20 seconds for loading the blank tube to unloading the finished product. This is because many parts of the exhaust chain can be combined into one seamless assembly.

3. Remarkable Precision

The in-feeding of the material is accurately controlled by the computer while the metal is under high pressure inside the tool up to within 10 thousandths of an inch. This will be from 25,000 to 30,000psi.

4. Waste Reduction

By repeating the process you eliminate wastage from dented or accidentally bent parts and less material is needed due to the consolidation of the sections into one assembly.

5. Weight Reduction

Hydroforming produces lighter products as the required stiffness can be achieved using thinner walls. In previous processes this was not possible.

6. Form More Complex Shapes

Complex shapes can be achieved from pre-bent tubes by hydroforming and they can even have inlet and outlet openings incorporated.

7. Reduced Tool Costs

The number of tools can be reduced drastically due to fewer sections and the elimination of the burring and punching processes.

To get more information on hydroforming, contact us.

What is Tube Hydroforming?

What is Tube Hydroforming?

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.

Hydroforming Increases Automobile Safety

Hydroforming Increases Automobile Safety

You might not know it, but you may have hydroforming to thank for the fact that you weren’t injured in your last fender-bender.

What is hydroforming?

Generally speaking, hydroforming is a technique whereby a high-pressure hydraulic fluid is used to push a ductile metal, like aluminum or stainless steel, into a solid piece that is stiff and structurally sound.

The fluid is either pushed directly against the metal (no-bladder hydroforming) or against an insulating bladder (bladder hydroforming or flexforming). The metal is, in turn, pushed against a negative mold. (A negative mold has the name it does because it’s the inverse of the desired shape, meaning the material pushed into it achieves the shape that is sought.)

Hydroforming is often used to make unibodies for vehicles and metal frames for bicycles. The reason we began this post with the comment about hydroforming and vehicles is that the automotive industry has been one of the chief beneficiaries of hydroforming’s ability to creative strong, solid pieces of shaped metal.

Hydroforming is praised for being more cost-efficient than other methods and it can be used to create pieces that are too complex for simple die casting. Furthermore, hydroforming can actually be quite simple in terms of the infrastructure required.

If you are interested in learning more about hydroforming in general or about American Hydroformers specifically, please contact us at any time or visit our website for more information. We are always happy to help prospective new clients understand why we may be the best fit for them.

Tube Hydroforming White Paper

Tube Hydroforming White Paper

 

Tube hydroforming is at the heart of the process that enables modern-day life to proceed more efficiently. From the water piping systems of local utilities to the cars we drive and bikes we ride, tube hydroforming is the process that allows the efficient creation of complex shapes with minimal waste in modern life. So what exactly is tube hydroforming?

Hydroforming Explained

As technology advances, businesses, government agencies, and utility providers around the world seek out the most cost-effective way to obtain the materials needed for piping, rail systems, and car parts (to name a few industries) while ensuring the products received still meet stringent requirements for strength and structural integrity. This is where hydroforming comes into play.

Hydroforming is a process that takes ductile metals, such as aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and other low alloy steels, and transforms them into the shapes needed by various industries. The process is conducted by fitting these metals into preformed dies or molds and reshaping them with the help of high pressure hydraulics.

For instance, when a piece of copper piping needs to be molded to a particular shape and still maintain a high stiffness-to-weight ratio, hydroforming is used. The copper piping would be placed inside a forming die with the desired mold shape for the end product. The copper tube is then inflated with high pressure hydraulic fluids from the open ends that force it to conform to the new shape of the mold.

The hydraulic fluid forces the expansion or alteration of the tube until it fits into the desired mold. Hydroforming is done with all metals that can be reshaped at room temperature, and is capable of achieving complex yet strong molded shapes in a much more cost-effective manner than other stamping or welding processes.

Evolution of Tube Hydroforming

Hydroforming was born out of the deficiencies of older metal forming processes. The first patent for a modern version of hydroforming was filed with the U.S. Patent Office in July 1952 (and later issued in 1955) by Fred Leuthesser Jr. and John Fox of the Schaible Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

To read the full article, down load our Tube Hydroforming White Paper here:

http://vptag.wufoo.com/forms/m7x4z5/

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.

Hydroforming Titanium for the Masses?

Hydroforming Titanium for the Masses?

The advantages of using titanium and titanium alloys have long been apparent to both the scientific and commercial communities:

  • Good strength
  • Resistance to erosion and erosion-corrosion
  • Very thin, conductive oxide surface film
  • Hard, smooth surface that limits adhesion of foreign materials
  • Surface promotes dropwise condensation

Due to these benefits, titanium and titanium alloys have become important players in a variety of different industries.

Since the introduction of titanium and titanium alloys in the early 1950s, these materials have in a relatively short time become backbone materials for the aerospace, energy, and chemical industries. (The Key to Metals

However, although there are many advantages to using titanium, its commercial use has been somewhat cost prohibitive. Over the years, manufacturers have instead turned to stainless steel, which although not as durable as titanium, is significantly more affordable to work with.

Until recently, that is.

In 2012, it was announced that a team led by André Albert at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering “developed a new process for hydroforming titanium at high temperatures in a single step that promises to make titanium more of an everyday material,” a process which allows titanium to be forged by hydraulic pressure in a single step and in one place without cracking (Gizmag). Needless to say, the savings that this new procedure would provide would be an enormous boon to the industry.

With titanium’s exceptional versatility, this new hydroform procedure could move its use from the aerospace industry into everyday life, including window frames, hydraulic lines, jet engine components, bio-compatible implants, and bicycle frames — not to mention the possibilities for the automotive industry, where “because of the lack of cost-effective forming technologies for titanium, currently manifolds, exhaust pipes, catalytic converters and mufflers are primarily manufactured from high-alloy stainless steel” (TechFragments).

With hydroform bringing down the cost of titanium production, perhaps its only a matter of time until more and more of our everyday tasks — cooking, cleaning, grooming, working out — are aided by titanium instruments.

If you have questions regarding developments in hydroform technology and how we can help you take advantage of them, please feel free to 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.