American Hydroformers: Planning Ahead. The manufacturing process that is used to form flat metal sheets into compounded sheets by exerting water pressure on a hydroforming press is known as hydroforming. In the automotive industry and others, hydroformed components have significantly improved the quality of products that are being produced. Hydroforming has also opened the doors to many new ideas and designs.
Posts Tagged hydroforming automotive industry
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.
Automakers face a number of challenges in providing consumers with vehicles that are safe, fuel efficient and reliable. One way they are achieving these goals is with the use of hydroformed automotive parts. Hydroforming is a metal fabrication process that uses high pressurized fluid and a specialized type of die molding that produces parts which are lightweight, cost-effective and although thinner, have increased strength and structural integrity.
BMW has been using hydroformed parts in their high performance vehicles for several years. The BMW M3 features hydroformed exhaust tubes, for instance. Ford utilized hydroformed steel tubes in the B-pillars and a hydroformed roof rail in the 2013 Ford Fusion. The structural superiority as well as the lighter weight and reduced costs are key reasons that automakers have begun to incorporate hydroformed parts into their newer models.
Weight is increasingly a concern for both consumers and automakers due to EPA regulations regarding fuel efficiency. A lighter vehicle enjoys improved MPG, in fact, according to the EPA, every 100 pounds of extra weight in a vehicle reduces the MPG by 2 percent.
But perhaps more important than weight and MPG, is safety. Hydroformed parts have a higher stiffness to weight ratio and increased strength. The absence of welding joints means these parts have a greater ability to absorb crash energy. This means vehicles have greater crash worthiness which translates into improved safety for the occupants of the vehicle in case of a crash.
For improved safety and structural strength as well as reduced weight and overall production costs, hydroforming is a perfect solution for the performance automotive industry.
We are American Hydroformers and we specialize in the manufacture of hydroformed parts. Contact us for information on hydroforming solutions for your automotive parts needs.