What is Tube Hydroforming?
Tube Hydroforming is a type of die forming that is used to shape certain metals, including aluminum and stainless steel, into strong but lightweight pieces. This method is often used in the automotive industry, especially for sports cars, and is also used to create the tubes used in bicycle frames. The process was first patented in the 1950s, but became widespread in the industrial sector in the 1970s, when it was used to produce large T-shaped joints for the oil & gas industry. Hydroforming replaces an older process that involves stamping two halves and then welding them together. There is no need for welding with hydroforming, which also can help develop more complex shapes.
Tube hydroforming (THF) specifically expands metal tubes into a particular shape with the use of two die halves containing the raw tube. This process uses internal pressure and axial compressive loads at the same time. THF can be done with either high or low pressure. During THF, the dies are closed, the tube ends are sealed by axial punches, and the tube is filled with hydraulic fluid through these punches.
The benefits of THF include:
- Seamless bonding
- Increased structural strength
- Better load support compared with stamped sheet metal
- Reduced weight
- Ability to maintain high-quality surfaces for finishing
- Fewer parts, which means lower tooling cost
- Less scrap
- Lower capital costs
- Reduced dimensional variability
- Increasing uses and applications
Founded in 2003, American Hydroformers specializes in the tube hydroforming manufacturing process. Our capabilities include numerous metal forming techniques such as hydroforming, hydraulic press work, metal stamping, and tube forming. In addition to hydroformed components, American Hydroformers offers complete assembly level fabrication of automotive structures, robotic welding, and both industrial laser and plasma cutting. To learn more about this process and how you can take advantage of our expertise, contact us today!