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What Is Hydroforming: The Basics

What Is Hydroforming: The Basics

Hydroforming is a unique process used to form metal. As a unique process, it also solves unique problems. Hydroforming makes a number of products possible that wouldn’t be possible through mainstream methods. Although it is not the most common method of forming metal, it is very useful, and a necessity to our society today. Let’s talk a little about how hydroforming works and what it does.

How a New Tube Hydroformed Instrument Impacts the World of Optics and Photonics

How a New Tube Hydroformed Instrument Impacts the World of Optics and Photonics

Automotive and aerospace engineers (among others) have used tube hydroforming as a means to supplement inferior design techniques, by decreasing weight and increasing tensile and ductile strength, two things that had been sorely lacking in those industries for many years.

Tube hydroforming contributes to industries all around the globe, and lends an idle, albeit able hand in sculpting and shaping how those global communities think, brand, and progress into the future.

Recently, a new advancement in design was announced from an industry that has had little use for hydroforming up until the last few years: optics and photonics.

A newly designed, tube hydroformed instrument is helping to find sensitive measurements, and the scientists who use them.

From an article on optics and photonics on how the instrument works:

The instrument measure objects with apertures that range from 20 to 200mm or more, and consists of a laser diode, a conical mirror, and a miniature CCD or CMOS camera.

In the progressive world of aerospace design and mechanical engineering, seeing the truly smallest of smalls makes a huge impact on a nanoscale. Nanoscientists have for a long time been viewing that in which we are not able to see, and use powerful microscopes to do so.

For those in the aerospace industry, however, measuring the inner diameter of holes to establish the gauge of the bore by using two or three measured points is time-consuming and arduous.

So optics has stepped in to ease the burden. But even then, older optical sectioning methods are difficult to use for pipes measuring less than 100mm.

From the article on how the technique is applied to measurement and its functional principle:

The key component that we use in our technique is a ring beam device, which consists of a conical mirror and a laser diode. The fundamental principle that underlies our technique is based on optical sectioning, without the use of any contact-type stylus.

The instrument, whose shell is made by tube hydroforming, is rapidly helping those who already do a difficult job easier, by enabling the instrument “compatible with practical industrial applications,” as well as aiding in the future development of an even smaller probe that measure holes less than 10mm in diameter.

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

The Benefits Of Hydroforming

The Benefits Of Hydroforming

The process of hydroforming has been kicked around the manufacturing industry for quite some time. The process involves forming ductile metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and low allow steel into complex shapes by the use of fluid and pressure.

The application of evenly distributed pressure over the single sheet of metal or through a tube results in components with a number of benefits over their traditionally manufactured counterparts. Some benefits of hydroforming include:

Superior Surface Quality

Because the sheet of metal being pressed never comes into contact with actual tooling equipment, the chances of structural and surface damage are drastically reduced.

Lightweight Items

Components manufactured via hydroforming exhibit superior strength to weight ratio. In addition, complex shapes can be created with all of their walls at a more uniform thickness than what could previously be achieved.

Versatility of Materials

This process allows for the use of any ductile metals to be hydroformed. Regardless of if it’s sheets of copper, brass, aluminum, titan, or steel, optimum deformation levels can always be reached. The thickness of the sheets to be formed can range anywhere from 0.05mm to 6mm. Hydroforming is also superior at forming thin sheets over other traditional forming methods.

Manufacturing Savings

Because the hydroforming process does not require the use of guide way systems or hold-down device, the process saves quite a sum of money. Combine this with the fact that hydroforming generates very little waste from the process and the fact that tooling costs are cut in half due to only needing the negative molding tool. The result is a manufacturing process which drastically cuts back on manufacturing time and production costs. Additionally, complex shapes can often be created using one machine, which negates the necessity for more machinery to be running.

It’s for these reasons that it’s no wonder the benefits of hydroforming components are growing in popularity in the automotive industry; specifically for racing vehicles. They are also commonly seen being used for machinery parts, and in the aerospace industry. If you would like to learn more about hydroforming, we welcome you to visit our website. Additionally, if you would like to ask us a question directly feel free to contact us.

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 Deep Draw Hydroforming Process & Advantages

The Deep Draw Hydroforming Process & Advantages

In the 1940s, deep draw hydroforming became the forefront method for developing and manufacturing irregular shaped metal parts. Die style stamping became archaic, as it became inefficient in comparison to the hydroforming method.

The old style die stamping method used heat to draw metal and parts formed using this process took longer to make as the process of shaping the metal uniformly took more time and manpower to develop. Deep draw hydroforming allowed manufacturers to create irregular or asymmetrical parts using a cold forming process. Because hydroformed parts requires less finishing work, less time and manpower is needed to create perfect pieces.

One distinct advantage of deep draw hydroforming is it allows the manufacturer to create and manipulate a variety of metals including aluminum, brass, carbon steel, stainless steel, and alloy. This versatility has allowed manufacturers to meet the demands of a variety of industries including, but not limited to the aerospace industry, the automobile industry, and the HVAC industry.

Top Advantages of Deep Draw Hydroforming

  • Many parts can be formed using a one step process
  • Irregular shapes can be manufactured in less time due to less finishing work on the final product
  • Material stability and durability is maintained during the forming process
  • Less machines are used in the process resulting in quicker set up times
  • Development costs are significantly reduced
  • Abnormalities such as ripping, tearing, wrinkling, and marking associated with traditional die forming is eliminated

For more information about how deep draw hydroforming can save your firm time and money in the manufacturing process, contact us. The experts at American Hydroformers have proudly served the metal manufacturing industry for over 10 years and are dedicated to creating comprehensive metal manufacturing solutions for your firm.

Mercedes-AMG selects hydroformed parts

Mercedes-AMG selects hydroformed parts

As more and more automotive engineers begin to learn and source more hydroformed parts and components, the hydroforming industry sits on the verge of rapid growth.  Mercedes-AMG selects hydroformed parts for its new CL63 intake.  Mercedes -AMG engineers found the hydroformed intakes to be “extremely short charge-air ducting makes for outstanding responsiveness. The stainless steel pressure pipes for the fresh and charge air are produced by the hydroforming process, have a wall thickness of only 0.03 inches and are designed for very low pressure loss.”   Again, the benefits of using hydroformed parts to remove costly processes like welding not only remove labor and quality constraints, but it gives the manufacturer the ability to use the proper gauge material while removing unnecessary weight at the same time.

Automobile designers have discovered that hydroformed structures are lighter and stronger than traditional stamped and welded assemblies. Applications involve engine cradles, trailing suspension arms, roof supports frame rails, radiator supports as well as headers and exhaust manifolds and crash tips. Electric and hybrid vehicles will also benefit from HF component.

High performance and race cars have long used tubular frame construction for its strength and light weight nature. With the latest federal mandates for mileage and crash worthiness, hydroformed frames are a good solution.

Automotive radiator supports, Instrument panel beams, Catalytic converter cones and exhaust components, cross members and engine cradles are among the parts currently being manufactured with hydroform technology.