Posts Tagged american hydroforming

Hydroformed Components Make Trucks Stronger, Faster, and Better

Hydroformed Components Make Trucks Stronger, Faster, and Better

We’ve talked in length before about how hydroformed components used in the automobile industry have helped to change the entire process.

Every few months or so, we like to update our readers on some vehicles that have reaped the most benefit from hydroforming. We do this for several reasons, but most of all we are proud of our contribution to this ever-growing industry, one that is literally “re-shaping” how the auto industry functions.

It’s a large, more macro example of what some experts have called: ultra low-cost car market.

Several cost reduction factors are taken into consideration while designing an ultra low-cost car… for space and weight saving [there is the]… absence of radio, air conditioner and passenger side mirror, seats with integrated head rest… and extensive use of hydroforming and roll forming…

So while major auto manufacturers like Ford and Chevy aren’t quite in line with eliminating just about everything from their “features” list, what they are doing is utilizing innovative techniques like hydroforming to make their trucks better and easier to assemble.

Heavy duty trucks like the F-150 and the Silverado HD both share in common a wide use of hydroformed parts.

For example, one of the countries best-selling trucks in the country, the Chevy Silverado, has extensive hydroformed framing and roll forming. Both of which improve weight, steering, handling, security, and comfort while contributing to torque and towing capability. Meanwhile the Ford F-150 contains hydroformed components throughout.

In both cases, to some small degree, hydroforming is contributing to the “low-cost car market.” Not only is it allowing manufacturers to pay less to design and execute, it passes that savings to the vehicle purchaser. It’s just another way innovation changes our world for the better and makes our lives easier.

For more information on how hydroformed products are changing the world’s industries, or how we can help you, please contact us any time.

Deep Draw Hydroforming Aids in Medical Device Manufacturing

Deep Draw Hydroforming Aids in Medical Device Manufacturing

It has long been established that deep draw hydroforming is a technology that has staying power. The process in which deep draw hydorforming follows makes it a powerful solution for a variety of manufacturing industries, helping to set a future path for how many things are made.

It was recently reported recently that deep draw hydoforming is now fostering the production of medical devices. Stating that the process was “ideal” for production of this type.

From the article:

An innate ability to foster rapid prototyping, inexpensive product development, and low-volume, high-mix production makes sheet hydroforming ideal for medical device manufacturing.

Additionally, according to the report, deep draw hydroforming brings several unique advantages to the production of medical device fabrication, no matter the material in which it is made (aluminum or steel).

– Tooling advantages. Parts can be manufactured quicker and with less lead time. Meaning that, along side various structural benefits, parts require less manufacturing time after the prototype design is established.

– Improved, stronger parts. Because the tooling process allows devices to be made of materials that work together mutually and beneficially, parts can be produced out of materials that better suit the needs of the user.

– A wider range of part designs. Parts that would normally require multiple, complex angles (and even negative angles) are formed easily.

– Skilled labor not required. Because of the artisan-ship and skill that once went into sheet hydroforming, it was as much an art as a trade. But as the article points out:

Modern systems allow for precise control over both the diaphragm pressure and, on deep draw models, punch position… This infinite control… along with the ability to save proven recipes for future access, leads to rapid new part development and greater part consistency due to the repeatable nature of the process.

– Forming simulations hit benchmark. Forming simulation suites make the process more simple and user-friendly on the front end. Like looking at a recipe and adding ingredients.

Sheet and deep draw hydroforming assist in adding an advantage to a broad spectrum of industries, and we’re proud to be on the cutting edge of the future alongside it. For more information on how we can help you, please contact us any time.

Aluminum Hydroforming Outperforming Steel Stamping

Aluminum Hydroforming Outperforming Steel Stamping

Hydroforming aluminum products has been around for the last few decades in some for or another. In the beginning, it was perfected to manufacture lightweight parts for the automotive industry as cars strayed away from heavier models and progressed towards more economical and efficient versions. But has since branched out to several other industries.

The advantages of aluminum hydroforming are numerous. Including weight reduction, vastly improved design flexibility, space reduction science, reduced jointing, less “downstream processing,” and a large impact on dimensional performance.

By replacing steel with aluminum, advanced hydroforming techniques could be applied to some of the most trusted and widely-used hydroforming methods. Aluminum sheeting, once added to the materials rotation, significantly impacted the stamping application, opening the door for advanced products and design. Then, as the automotive industry began to rapidly request more lightweight products, hydroforming adapted along side it.

As a basic rule that is typically agreed on by experts, and is used as an outline for aluminum hydroforming, there are three factors that contribute to the characteristics of aluminum extrusions.

They are:

Elongation: Most think that aluminum, being a lighter, more malleable material, would exhibit greater formable features than steel. This is contrary to the truth. In fact, steel is more formable than aluminum, but is obviously more weighty. Thus, the elongation factor is paramount to aluminum’s performance and usability over steel in addition to weight.

Materials: That is, alloys and tempers. Aluminum comes in a large variety of both of these characteristics, but the most widely sought after is a material that is strong and stable. Something that aluminum can have trouble with if close attention is not paid.

Shapes: A huge factor for aluminum’s growth in hydroforming is its ability to be formed into a large amount of shapes and sizes. Further, the cross sections that aluminum comes in out rivals steel in every regard (steel typically only comes in one: round).

Using aluminum in the hydroforming process has, and will continue to change how the technique is done. As major industries continue to evolve, so will how products are used, and how they benefit everyone involved.

For more information on how we can help you, please contact us any time.

Hydroformed Components Still Huge Part of Manufacturing

Hydroformed Components Still Huge Part of Manufacturing

We have long highlighted how hydroformed components are integral to manufacturers. From the kitchen sink to sports cars, hydroformed parts continue to lead the charge of innovation, and change how the modicum of industry performs.

Here are some of the latest examples of hydroformed parts making waves.

Kawasaki Ninja H2

The Kawasaki Ninja was one of the first street motorcycles to break speed records, and with recent launch of the $50k H2, Kawasaki is hoping to retain that relevancy and move into the future.

The hydroformed components: The exhaust system. “The entrance to the header pipes is oval to match the two exhaust ports per cylinder. Partly formed by hydroforming, each header pipe tapers from an oval to a round cross-section. The collector pipes are also hydroformed.”

Intense Tracer T275

The cycling industry has benefited greatly from hydroforming. Including top-of-the-line beasts like the Intense Tracer T275 to bottom of the barrel department store models.

The hydroformed components: The seamless top tube. This means that the frame weighs less because there are fewer parts involved with keeping the bike together. Resulting in a lighter, tougher frame and a smoother ride.

2015 Ford F-150

The automobile industry uses hydroformed parts daily. This includes large, multi-national companies like Ford. So when it was announced that the new F-150 would have hydroformed parts, we were both excited and relieved that they would be carrying on the tradition.

The hydroformed components: For increased bend-resistance, Ford’s F-150 has a heat-treated body and cab. “The cab’s structural cage is hydroformed and joints and seams are riveted and glued rather than welded. There’s more structural reinforcement between the inner and outer box and weight loss allowed Ford to up-gauge panel thickness as much as 65 percent.”

For more information on hydroforming and how we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time.

How the CAFE Standards Influence Engineering & Design

How the CAFE Standards Influence Engineering & Design

We were all taught about idealized cantilever beams in college.  Little did we know then, that even the simplest of parts have their own histories, and are affected by things as seemingly out of place as government regulations.

For example.. Let’s say you are awarded some new business.  Your client wants a simple bracket – The length is 20″, and it is supporting a concentrated load 500 pounds at the end.  The other end is mechanically grounded to a 5″x5″ patch.  The safety factor with respect to yield must be greater than three.  And the maximum deflection must be no greater than 1/4″.

You bring this to your design engineer, and they return with a simple rod with appropriate attachments at either end. All good and well.

Six months go by.  You client, an automotive manufacturer, informs you that due to ever constrictive standards imposed on them (and therefore, you) by the Federal Government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, your old design must meet the same design constraints, but be lighter.

“How much lighter?,” you ask.

“The lighter the better,” they answer.  “Oh, and by the way – we’ve added a design constraint:  You need to keep the first resonant frequency greater than 200 Hertz.”

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the now the end load is smaller.

You agree, and take the new requirements to your design team.  They come back with a tube design.

This happens every year for a few more years.  The CAFE requirements force progressively lighter designs.  Customers (and therefore, the client) are increasingly pressuring to keep costs down.  The form of the design becomes more distinctive over time.

After several design cycles, the constraints overwhelm your design team.  It is apparent that a simple tube design will no longer meet project requirements.  You decide to quarantine your team for a few hours, so that everyone can brainstorm about how to stay in the good graces of the client, by helping them stay in the good graces of the government.

Some interesting things come out of that exercise.  None of them are feasible.

Everyone has contributed to the discussion except one.  He’s the young, quiet guy in the back.  He looks a little embarrassed.  You convince him to spit out whatever he’s thinking.  And so he does.

It seems that when he was in school, he attended a tour of a hydroforming factory.  He tells you that this would be an ideal application for hydroforming manufacturing.  Hydroforming for example, would allow you to put ribs in your tube – something that can’t be done with conventional forming.  You’d have the extra stiffness without the extra material.

Naturally, you need to farm this out to hydroforming specialists.  As it turns out, it was a good decision.  Your VP even tells you so (happily), at your next yearly review.

Here at American Hydroformers, we are in the business of bringing success to automotive companies struggling to meet the demands of the consumer, the customer, and the government’s CAFÉ standards.  For more information on how our hydroforming solutions can help your company keep current with the cafe standards, please contact us.

The Budding New Technique of Friction Stir Welding

The Budding New Technique of Friction Stir Welding

A relatively young technique in the field of welding, friction stir welding was invented then scientifically proven as a viable method in December of 1991. By definition it is a ‘solid-state joining process,’ meaning that the material being used for welding is not melted. This process employs the use of a third body tool to join together the two facing surfaces.

The process starts with heat being generated between the friction stir welding tool and material, which leads to a softened region. The tool then mechanically mixes the metals between the two pieces at the place of the joint. The softened metal can then be joined by pressure, supplied by the welding tool. This process is described as being much like joining pieces of clay or dough. Friction stir welding is excellent for items requiring superior hold strength without the need of a post-weld heat treatment.

There are several advantages that friction stir welding has been observed to have over traditional fusion welding. Some of these include;

  • Free range operation positions (horizontal, vertical, etc.) because there is no weld pool.
  • No consumables.
  • Easily automated on simple milling machines due to lower set up costs and less training.
  • Improved safety due to the absence of toxic fumes or the spatter of molten welding materials.
  • Reduced impact on the environment.

As with the advantages, a few disadvantages also go along with the friction stir welding process. A few examples of the disadvantages are;

  • An exit hole is left in the metal when the tool is withdrawn.
  • Less flexibility than whats found in manual and arch welding processes.
  • Often slower than fusion welding techniques, however this can be offset if a smaller number of welding passes are required.

Despite being a relatively new process, friction stir welding has already made a place for itself in several industries. These include automotive, offshore and ship building, aerospace, railways, personal computers, and various electronics. The future for this process is promising, paving a way for itself to maybe one day surpass traditional welding methods as the go to technique. If you would like to know more about friction stir welding, or other fabrication processes such as hydroforming, feel free to contact us at our website.

Aluminum Hydroforming Leaves Its Mark

Aluminum Hydroforming Leaves Its Mark

As automotive and mountain-biking companies begin to roll out sneak peeks at their 2015 lineups, it is becoming increasingly apparent just how much new advancements in hydroforming aluminum have affected both industries overall. This is pleasing because since aluminum is lighter than carbon and stainless steel, the use of hydroformed aluminium in car parts has opened new vistas of possibilities for increased effectiveness and decreased weight.

Take for example the 2015 lineup from the German biking company Merida. According to a recent article, next year’s lineup boasts more aluminium than ever, including a new Reacto aero bike featuring a very special frame:

The frame in question is made from hydroformed triple-butted 6066 aluminium with a tapered head tube and an integrated seat clamp like you’ll find on the carbon models. It looks like a high-quality piece of work in a very good grade of alloy (road.cc).

Looking beyond the world of cycling to the automotive realm, we see that Ford has certainly taken advantage of new opportunities provided by aluminum hydroforming.

Proof of this can be easily witnessed in their new 2015 line, which includes an all-aluminum body for its new F-150. In fact, the new F-150 was a recent spotlight by Ford’s purchasing chief Hau Thai-Tang, citing that the vehicle is the the first pickup with an aluminum body. As a result, it is on average about sixty pounds lighter. The F-150 still incorporates a steel frame, however, for improved rigidity (Auto News).

With new advancements being made all the time in the area of aluminium hydroforming, we look forward to many more companies taking advantage of these techniques to provide vehicles and machinery that are not only lighter and more durable but are also more cost-effective.

For more information about this or anything else, please feel free to contact us.

What is tube hydroforming?

What is tube hydroforming?

Hydroforming is the process of using high pressured water to create custom metal structures to fit the needs of our clients. Centered in the Midwest since 2003, we have catered to a number of clients’ needs including:

  • Tube forming
  • Industrial laser cutting
  • Stencil work

We use an internal high-pressure hydroforming press system which is quintessential in creating parts with complex geometries and extensive secondary operations. Our system is also the most efficient, saving our clients time and money. The newest addition to our press equipment, an 1800 Ton Hydrap Pressen Hydroforming Press, has allowed us to add to our manufacturing processes and serves as a pre-forming function for our existing hydroforming presses.

Tube Hydroforming

Hydroforming is the most efficient and cost-effective way of shaping amenable metals into pieces that are not only lightweight but also structurally sound. Uses include:

  • Unibody structures in the automotive industry
  • Bicycle frames
  • Metal-based instruments

Traditional manufacturing methods, such as stamping and welding, are not only more expensive but also create structurally weaker products. They are unable to create fluid pieces that fit perfectly into their spaces.

Tube hydroforming is a similar process, most commonly used in the automotive industry. It is a very favorable process, as we can produce tubular formations with many geometric options, reducing the need for welding operations.

Contact us in Fort Wayne, IN for more information on how we can create your custom pieces. Be sure to catch our documentary on the Discovery Channel in 2014, and read up on our business in The Tube and Pipe Journal.

Hydroforming Aluminum Can Help Reduce Weight Of Components

Hydroforming Aluminum Can Help Reduce Weight Of Components

Hydroforming is a method that shapes metal into strong pieces that are also light, in regards to the weight. There are many different industries that use hydroforming. However, the vehicle industry is probably one of the largest applicators of hydroforming. The method has mostly been popular among the production of cars that are known as the “high-end” cars. One of the materials that is frequently used is aluminium.

Previously, there was a focus on traditional stamping and parts that were welded. Hydroforming has certainly emerged into a practical method of manufacturing because of the need to lower the weight of the different components. There has also been a transition of steel to aluminum. Aluminum is making outstanding progress in the industry. When hydroforming aluminum you will receive an even, nice-looking finish that will not need any extra additions or tooling. You will receive the nice finish because the female die gets replaced by a diaphragm made of rubber.

The fluid in the hydraulic is pumped into a component at a very high pressure, and the aluminum is molded into a shape very evenly. The result will be a distinctive shape that has a thickness in the material. Hydroforming aluminum sheets can be a bit challenging sometimes because all of the shapes will not always be symmetrical and regularly shaped.

Some people may want to try cold-forming, but not every cold-forming method will have the necessities to handle all of the tough demands. Since there are some tough aluminum parts that will need plenty of work to form, hydroforming will be the best answer. The hydroforming methods for the different shaped aluminum parts will not cost as much as other methods, like cold-forming.

We certainly understand how several needs are unique. We also understand how important it is to save time and money when it comes to the process of hydroforming aluminum.

Contact us for more information on the benefits of hydroforming aluminum.

What is Hydroforming

What is Hydroforming

Every time you drive a motor vehicle, fly in an airplane or ride a bicycle, hydroforming was likely used as part of their manufacture. Hydroforming provides a number of advantages when compared to other alternative methods of metal shaping. By learning more about what is hydroforming, understanding the significance of this process in our daily life should be possible.

The Standard Concept

Aluminum is a malleable material that is often molded using hydroforming. Two processes can be used during the hydroforming process for manipulation. The first is using high pressure hydraulic fluid to produce a certain shape with the metal. The metal (typically a flat sheet) is placed inside a container with a mold. The container is sealed off and hydraulic fluid injected until a certain pressure is achieved. This pressure causes the metal to mold to the shape of the dye. A variation of this concept involves the manipulation of a hollow tube of metal. The hollow tube is placed inside of a negative mold and fluid is injected into the inside of the tube, causing it to expand into the shape of the mold.

Low Pressure Versus High Pressure Tube Hydroforming

In tube hydroforming, two methods are typically used. The only difference between the two are the pressures used and when they are applied. In high pressure hydroforming, the tube is exposed to high pressures (typically between 1500 and 2000 bars) only after being closed in the dye of the hydraulic press. In low pressure hydroforming, the tube is exposed to a low pressure of between 120-180 bars before being closed in the dye of the hydraulic press. According to Metal Working World Magazine, “The material does not collapse, taking the die shape, but simply it is uniformly stretched (thus avoiding the corrugations of the inner surface that are instead frequently present in the high pressure method), like in a pre-forming process.”

Be sure to contact us at American Hydroformers if you have any questions about what is hydroforming.