Posts Tagged automotive industry

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.

Hydroforming Advantages for Automotive

Hydroforming Advantages for Automotive

Hydroforming metal is one of the most cost effective ways of creating asymmetrical parts for the automotive industry. Many parts used on cars today have irregular shapes making traditional methods of manufacturing more cumbersome and expensive. The strength and weight of hydroformed parts also lends to better produced products which are easier to work while maintaining an overall better structural integrity. Here are some other hydroforming advantages that make it one of the best choices for fabricating parts for the automotive industry:

  • Reduced tooling costs: When manufacturing parts the traditional way, jigs and other forms must be manufactured before the process of fabrication begins. If a company only needs a small quantity of the manufactured parts, the increase in cost for tooling greatly affects the bottom line.
  • Increased quality and precision: Hydroforming uses a technique which employs a press, pressurized fluid, and a punch. This process is not only quicker than traditional types of fabrication, it also ensures greater accuracy because their are less steps in the process of hydroforming than traditional manufacturing.
  • Deep-drawing with less stretch: Hydroforming uses less friction in the manufacturing process. Deep draws can be performed with less material stretch. This means the product will have a better integrity as well as less blemishing; in turn requiring less finishing work.
  • The versatility of hydroforming: Steel, copper, brass, aluminum, alloys, etc can be manufactured into parts using the hydroform process. When dealing with these types of materials, many additional efforts must be put into place with traditional fabrication processes as to not damage or weaken the material.

In the automotive industry material strength is essential for safety. The race industry has especially seen benefits from the light weight and structurally sound parts developed as a result of hydroforming. As hybrid vehicle become more and more popular, hydroforming has played an integral part in keeping cars efficient through bettering the manufacturing process. When looking for hydroformed parts you can depend on for strength and lasting durability, please contact  the experts at American Hydroforming.

Hydroformed Components

Hydroformed Components

What do a satellite antenna, an aluminum frame bicycle and the engine cradle of your neighbor’s motorcycle have in common? Chances are they were all made with hydroformed components.

From the medical industry to motorcycle manufacturers, the process of hydroforming offers many key advantages. To name a few, this superior fabricating and forming process allows:

  • Higher production efficiency
  • Elimination of welding
  • Creation of geometric shapes
  • Increased strength
  • Deeper draws
  • High quality surfaces
  • Tight tolerances
  • Low tooling costs
  • Elimination of draw marks

Take a cue from the automotive industry. The ever increasing demand for lighter weight components has just about necessitated the use of hydroformed components of countless automobiles. As a matter of fact, in 1997 Chevy used hydroformed components in the mass production of the Corvette. They’re not the only ones to reckognize a good thing when they see it. The high precision that can be accomplished with this technique is reflected in the use of hydroformed components in medical implantable devices, including some pacemakers. Even the music industry has benefited, as a well known saxophone maker uses a hydroformed brass tube in the popular instrument.

While it may seem at first glance that it’s just too good to be true, this technique was patented over 60 years ago and is still going strong. As it turns out, you can re-invent the wheel, and chances are the rim on the new one will have been hydroformed. Contact us to find out more about how to increase quality and strength while reducing costs.