The rise of hydroforming as a viable manufacturing process which reduces the weight of resulting items is driving two distinct transitions in the industry. One of these is the switching from stamping to hydroforming, and the other is from steel to aluminum.
It is the desire to reduce item weight which is pushing forward the hydroforming of aluminum. Steel has long been the go-to metal for bike, automotive, marine, and aerospace components. However, the need for a more lightweight material arose when the industries began to feel a need for lighter components.
This is where aluminum came in. It is more lightweight than steel, resulting in the component having a 25%-50% reduction in overall weight as compared to the same component made from stamped steel. Once aluminum was able to easily be hydroformed, the transition began. Many manufacturers favor hydroforming over older means of metal forming such as stamping because hydroforming can deliver complex shapes and sizes, as well as requiring less finishing work. This is due to the fact that imperfections which would be present in the surface of the pressed metal when stamping are not present in components which were hydroformed.
The only downside manufacturers must take into consideration is the cost difference. Because aluminum is in such high demand across a wide range of industries, manufacturers could be looking at a cost anywhere from three to five times more than the same quantity of steel.
However, this is a small price to pay for the excellent product which comes from hydroforming aluminum. These superior components are ideal in industries where individual component weight is a variable.
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