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.
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