Archive for the What is Tube Hydroforming? Category

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.

Tube Hydroforming vs. Metal Stamping

Tube Hydroforming vs. Metal Stamping

Today, nearly all businesses that desire to form parts have concerns regarding the strength, weight, and cost of a component. Metal stamping has been a traditional metal forming procedure. It does not always ensure those characteristics that businesses are looking for in a part, as does tube hydroforming.

There are some disadvantages of stamping. Prices for low production runs have never been economical. Facilities that have to place their whole collection of programs into action refuse to accept smaller runs. High tooling prices are proving to be the enemy of the industry. Moreover, stamping could have a detrimental impact on the structural strength of those parts being formed.

Stamping  results frequently in material wastage. Most stamping businesses do not have any way to reuse the unstamped parts of a sheet metal. The process of production and prototyping tooling translates into more lead times. Once finalized, altering as it raises the job costs the tooling design is not achievable.

Stamping has longer timelines and higher project costs. What is hydroforming?  A better metal forming process called Hydroforming addresses all the disadvantages linked to the metal stamping procedures. A pressurized hydraulic fluid is useful for forming a metal sheet within the desired contour.

Design molds and making changes to it can be achieved in several days without adding additional costs to a job. This approach can be coupled with deep drawing to achieve contoured parts.This procedure is appropriate for forming ductile metals such as 400 and 300 series of stainless steel, aluminium, bronze, and brass that are recommended for low weight applications.

Tube hydroforming as a procedure is utilized for making parts with a diameter of up to 20″ and a height of up to 9″. It may be used for creating parts in both convex and concave shapes. Unlike metal stamping, this approach has proven to be efficient while creating high consistency components with the desired tolerances. It is a procedure that reduces the demand for secondary finishing procedures.

It comes as no surprise that hydroformed components are sought after in businesses for example:

  • Metal furniture bases.
  • Medical equipment.
  • Nuclear business.
  • Industrial pumps components.
  • HVAC components.
  • Commercial food equipment.

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.

Hydroformed Bicycle Frames

Hydroformed Bicycle Frames

You may think that if you’ve seen one bike, you’ve seen them all. Yes, they come in different colors and wheel sizes with different kinds of brakes; but they’re basically all the same. After all, they’ve all got two wheels, pedals, and a seat. How different can they be? As any cycling enthusiast can tell you, the answer to that question is very! Differences in the materials and manufacturing processes that are used can make one bike feel and ride very differently from another.

One of those different manufacturing processes involves hydroforming – a process that uses fluid and high pressure to form the tube. In bicycles, this results in a frame that’s not only stronger but also sways less under pressure, allowing it to accelerate faster. A new hydroforming process (triple hydroformed) that’s being used in some bikes goes a step further and reshapes the tubes after they’ve been welded together. The resuting frame contains less material and therefore weighs less. It also provides a more comfortable ride by minimizing vibrations to the seatpost. When all is said and done, hydroforming helps create a bike that accelerates faster, climbs hills easier, and corners easier than others – qualities any cycling enthusiast would die for.

But bikes for the cycling enthusiast aren’t the only kind of bikes hydroforming is helping to improve. Electric bikes are another. Electric bikes combine human power with the power of electricity. The two working together make for a ride that’s much less strenous. Older people find them easier to ride, and commuters can arrive at work and not have to shower immediately. Sales for electric bikes have been improving in the last few years – especially amongst those looking for alternative methods of transportation. Costing between three and five cents per battery charge, it’s not hard to see why. In addition to those looking for a cheaper way to get around town, they’re also proving popular for use in businesses like deliver y services, resorts and bike rentals. Some police departments and security firms are beginning to use them as well.

Bottom line? No matter which kind of bike you’re looking for – regular or electric – you’ll probably want to look for hydroformed bicycle frames. With better handling and less weight, they make riding a breeze.

To find out how we can help you with your hydroforming needs, contact us. We’re here to serve you.

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.

Improving the World with Hydroforming

Improving the World with Hydroforming

Hydroforming is a cost-effective way of shaping ductile metals into stiff, strong and lightweight pieces.  Practically all metals that can be cold formed are suitable for hydroforming, and without being limited by geometric complexity, the applications are becoming endless.  Here are a few industries which utilize hydroforming:

Aerospace:  The precision and reliability of hydroformed parts is crucial to ensure success and safety in areas such as turbine construction, array antennas and construction of exterior structures.

Alternative Energies:  Much like in aerospace, the components of alternative energy machines demand a lot in form and function.  Be it solar, wind or waves, the flexibility of hydroforming production allows a wide array of metals to be utilized towards producing advanced components for the energy of the future.

Medical:  Due to not being limited by traditional manufacturing methods, hydroforming finds a good niche in producing intricate parts for medical appliances such as pace-makers and advanced prosthetics.  Being as it is so cost-effective, hydroforming has the ability to make much needed medical procedures more affordable to people who truly need them.

Home Appliances:  Hydroforming makes very asthetically pleasing products; because of the unique manufacturing process, pieces come out smooth and free from dents and blemishes.  In the appliance industry, hydroformed parts are moving into the eye’s view as they gain acceptance and use as handles and more due to these unique qualities.

Automotive:  Faster, lighter, stronger seems to always be on the minds of motor enthusiasts, and hydroformed parts fit into this category perfectly.  One of the most recognized uses for hydroforming, components made for vehicles gain durability from eliminating weak points made by traditional shaping and welding techniques.  From retrofitting late-model cars to creating tech-forward alternative fuel vehicles, you can find an application for hydroforming.

Plumbing:  Because the unique array of shapes able to be produced by hydroforming, not only is it excellent for creating strong and dependable fittings for under the sink, but hydroformed faucets and fixtures are gaining emerging acceptance as well.  Limitless arrangements are possible, giving designers unprecidented freedom to create new and beautiful products.

At American Hydroformers, we offer complete assembly level fabrication of automotive structures, as well as industrial laser cutting and stencil work in addition to our quality hydroformed and tube hydroformed products.  Contact us to see how we can improve your products today!

What is Hydroforming and Why Use It?

What is Hydroforming and Why Use It?

When many think about the manufacture of metal parts for cars, bicycles, and such,  they often think of  such processes as solid die stamping,  However, in the late 1940’s and 50’s a new process called hydroforming was developed to form metal parts, especially those with asymmetrical and irregular shapes that are difficult for stamping to form.

What is hydroforming?  Simply put, hydroforming uses a high pressure liquid to force a thin metal sheet or tube into a specialized die mold.  Almost all metals capable of being cold formed can also be hydroformed:  aluminum, brass, steel, stainless steel, and high strength alloys.   There are two types of hydroforming; sheet hydroforming and tube hydroforming.

For sheet hydroforming, a metal blank sheet is placed over the mold.  Then, in one type of sheet hydroforming, the mold is closed by a water filled bladder .Water pressure within the bladder is then increased, forcing the metal into the mold.

For tube hydroforming, a raw tube is placed between two dies.  The ends of the dies are then sealed off and water fills the tube.  The water pressure is increased until the tube takes the form of the mold.

The advantages of this process over traditional stamping are many.  It is ideal for forming complex shapes.  Hydroforming also produces parts that are more lightweight and have a higher stiffness to weight ration than stamped parts. Finally, its costs per unit are lower than stamping.

From hydroforming’s initial use in forming kitchen spouts its use has expanded to other plumbing fixtures, to widespread use in the auto and aircraft industry, to the manufacture of bicycles, and to the forming of the handles of appliances.   Hydroforming has even been used to manufacture the brass tube of the Yamaha saxophone.   It has proven itself to be an increasingly versatile tool.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about hydroforming and how it can meet your needs.

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

May 1, 2013 will always be a day that the Ford Motor Company and the design team for the Ford Fusion can look back on with pride. That was the day the Steel Market Development Institue (SMDI) of the American Iron and Steel Institue awarded them the Automotive Excellence Award for 2013. Why? Because of their “innovative use of advanced high-strength steel throughout the [car’s] body structure and closures.”

So what was this innovative use? After all, high-strength steel has been used in cars for years. Turns out the Ford Fusion is the first car to make use of hydroformed steel tubes in its B-pillars – a design decision Ron Krupitzer (VP of automotive market, SMDI) believes “contributes to the vehicle’s improved side impact performance, mass reduction and roof strength.” All of which are important to the industry and consumers.

So what is tube hydroforming? Basically, it’s a process that uses a mold and hydraulic fluid to form a tube. Aluminum is placed inside a mold followed by the injection of hydraulic fluid under high-pressure. As the hydraulic fluid enters, the aluminum fills the mold evenly creating a tube that’s stronger and lighter than those created by other processes.

The automotive industry isn’t the only industry that’s discovered the advantages of tube hydroforming. The bicycle industry has as well. In traditional bicycle making, the tubes for the frame are stamped out of the material, a process which can cause weak points at the corners and rounded surfaces since the pressure used in the process is not distributed evenly. Hydroformed tubes avoid that uneven pressure and are stronger for it. In addition to their greater strength and lighter weight, hydroformed tubes also provide bicycle makers with reduced production costs, safer working conditions, and a better surface for painting and finishing.

Since it’s creation in the 1950s, the hydroforming has been used in the production of many products – from cars to bicycles to brass instruments and many other things. It’s a process whose future is bright and is sure to include many more awards and inventions.

If we can help you with your production needs, contact us. Helping you create your dream is part of our job.

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

In a layman’s term, Hydroforming is a method that is applied when producing metallic components. The technique utilizes a high pressure liquid to push a thin film inside a mold. The outcome is a seamless metallic component which is not only light in weight, but robust and durable.

Different Types of Hydro-Formed Components

There are generally two types of products that can be produced through Hydroforming. These are:

  • Customized hydro-formed components that are normally produced by the industries only by request.
  • Generic hydro-formed components that are mass produced by companies for the sole purpose of sale as well as distribution.

The cost of producing customized hydro-formed components normally hinge on several factors such as the complexity and dimension of the order. If the purpose of the fabrication is to produce parts that are to be used in complex projects, then the overhead can be high since technicians spend more time and effort in ensuring that the final product is made according to the specification of a client.

What Are the Different Types of Techniques Used in Hydroforming?

There are two types of techniques that can be applied during the Hydroforming process. These are:

  • Making use of a bladder stuffed with fluid: While using this type of technique, the technician puts an even film of metal in a mold and then covers the mold using the bladder before exerting pressure from the other end. As the pressure is increased by the technician, the bladder pushes the metal inside a mold. When the process is complete, both ends of the halves are opened to reveal the metal part. This technique is suitable for creating metal parts with high levels of details.

Tube forming: While using this technique to create metal parts, the technician seals a tube within the mold using a shape that has been cut along the strip of the tube. The mold is held in position using blocks. Thereafter, a high-pressure is forced through the metal tube which then causes the tube to expand outwards thereby allowing for the mold to form.

If you need a service provider who can help you with Hydroforming, contact us today for more details.

What Is Tube Hydroforming? All you need to know.

What Is Tube Hydroforming? All you need to know.

Whether you are well-informed or brand-new to the subject, here is a primer on the basics of tube hydroforming. Read on to discover more about the process, the materials, the products, and the benefits.

Process

Simply put, hydroforming is the process of shaping ductile metals into desired pieces using either high or low pressure from hydraulic fluid. A hollow tube is placed into a negative mold, and fluid is pumped into the mold until the pressure shapes the material into the desired form. The fluid is removed and the product is finished.

Materials

Tube hydroforming can be done on metals including aluminum, brass, stainless steel, and low alloy steel.

Products

Tube hydroforming is used to make car frames, particularly high-end sports models. Specifially, engine cradles, suspension, radiator supports, and instrument panel beams are manufactured in this manner. Aluminum bicycle frames use this technology. And additionally, the brass tubes of Yamaha saxophones are made with this process.

Benefits

Tube hydroforming is desirable because it results in lightweight and structurally stiff products. The process is also very cost-effective, requiring few tools and minimal maintenance. Tube hydroforming provides an easy process for creating complex shapes, reducing the need for welding operations. Compared to other methods, tube hydroforming leaves a smooth finish and an appealing appearance.

American Hydroformers is based in Fort Wayne, IN, and specializes in the hydroform tube forming process. Whether you work in appliances, automotive, or plumbing fields, we are here to help you! Visit our “What Is Hydroforming” page to learn more about the process we use and see before and after photos.

Contact us today to request a quote and get more information about our services!