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Hydroforming into the Next Generation

Hydroforming into the Next Generation

Technology born in the 1940s has evolved through the decades to become the most desired manufacturing method for widely varied industries. From the shape of a saxophone, the tubes in bicycle frames, high strength automobile components, and even the new stainless steel sink installed your kitchen, hydroforming is a cost effective way to shape aluminum, brass, stainless steel, copper, alloys, and even carbon, into high strength structural components with tight tolerances.

When hydroforming, a large press is used with a punch similar to male die element in matched die forming. What would be the female element is actually a bladder full of hydraulic fluid at extreme pressures, and between the two is a metal blank. The punch presses into the bladder, shaping the metal into the desired form while leaving the surface smooth. Once pressed, the pressure is released from the bladder and the finished part is removed.

Here are some of the advantages to hydroforming:

  • Tooling costs are lower with hydroforming because the female side is a reusable bladder, only the male die and a holding ring are unique to each job.
  • Faster prototyping is possible. Various materials and material thicknesses can be used with the same tooling setup. This brings in your total project time thereby reducing development costs.
  • Complex shapes can be achieved with a single press cycle where traditional matched die forming would require multiple press cycles.
  • Hydroforming achieves outstanding surface finishes. The soft bladder leaves no lines, scratches, or surface blemishes, which would otherwise require extra time to polish out of the finished product.

At American Hydroformers, we have the expertise and the equipment to provide you with the next generation of formed metal components. From the automotive industry to the appliance business, contact our experts for more information.

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

Tube Hydroforming: Perfect for 2 Wheels or 4

May 1, 2013 will always be a day that the Ford Motor Company and the design team for the Ford Fusion can look back on with pride. That was the day the Steel Market Development Institue (SMDI) of the American Iron and Steel Institue awarded them the Automotive Excellence Award for 2013. Why? Because of their “innovative use of advanced high-strength steel throughout the [car’s] body structure and closures.”

So what was this innovative use? After all, high-strength steel has been used in cars for years. Turns out the Ford Fusion is the first car to make use of hydroformed steel tubes in its B-pillars – a design decision Ron Krupitzer (VP of automotive market, SMDI) believes “contributes to the vehicle’s improved side impact performance, mass reduction and roof strength.” All of which are important to the industry and consumers.

So what is tube hydroforming? Basically, it’s a process that uses a mold and hydraulic fluid to form a tube. Aluminum is placed inside a mold followed by the injection of hydraulic fluid under high-pressure. As the hydraulic fluid enters, the aluminum fills the mold evenly creating a tube that’s stronger and lighter than those created by other processes.

The automotive industry isn’t the only industry that’s discovered the advantages of tube hydroforming. The bicycle industry has as well. In traditional bicycle making, the tubes for the frame are stamped out of the material, a process which can cause weak points at the corners and rounded surfaces since the pressure used in the process is not distributed evenly. Hydroformed tubes avoid that uneven pressure and are stronger for it. In addition to their greater strength and lighter weight, hydroformed tubes also provide bicycle makers with reduced production costs, safer working conditions, and a better surface for painting and finishing.

Since it’s creation in the 1950s, the hydroforming has been used in the production of many products – from cars to bicycles to brass instruments and many other things. It’s a process whose future is bright and is sure to include many more awards and inventions.

If we can help you with your production needs, contact us. Helping you create your dream is part of our job.

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

A Clear Overview of Hydroforming

In a layman’s term, Hydroforming is a method that is applied when producing metallic components. The technique utilizes a high pressure liquid to push a thin film inside a mold. The outcome is a seamless metallic component which is not only light in weight, but robust and durable.

Different Types of Hydro-Formed Components

There are generally two types of products that can be produced through Hydroforming. These are:

  • Customized hydro-formed components that are normally produced by the industries only by request.
  • Generic hydro-formed components that are mass produced by companies for the sole purpose of sale as well as distribution.

The cost of producing customized hydro-formed components normally hinge on several factors such as the complexity and dimension of the order. If the purpose of the fabrication is to produce parts that are to be used in complex projects, then the overhead can be high since technicians spend more time and effort in ensuring that the final product is made according to the specification of a client.

What Are the Different Types of Techniques Used in Hydroforming?

There are two types of techniques that can be applied during the Hydroforming process. These are:

  • Making use of a bladder stuffed with fluid: While using this type of technique, the technician puts an even film of metal in a mold and then covers the mold using the bladder before exerting pressure from the other end. As the pressure is increased by the technician, the bladder pushes the metal inside a mold. When the process is complete, both ends of the halves are opened to reveal the metal part. This technique is suitable for creating metal parts with high levels of details.

Tube forming: While using this technique to create metal parts, the technician seals a tube within the mold using a shape that has been cut along the strip of the tube. The mold is held in position using blocks. Thereafter, a high-pressure is forced through the metal tube which then causes the tube to expand outwards thereby allowing for the mold to form.

If you need a service provider who can help you with Hydroforming, contact us today for more details.

What Is Tube Hydroforming? All you need to know.

What Is Tube Hydroforming? All you need to know.

Whether you are well-informed or brand-new to the subject, here is a primer on the basics of tube hydroforming. Read on to discover more about the process, the materials, the products, and the benefits.

Process

Simply put, hydroforming is the process of shaping ductile metals into desired pieces using either high or low pressure from hydraulic fluid. A hollow tube is placed into a negative mold, and fluid is pumped into the mold until the pressure shapes the material into the desired form. The fluid is removed and the product is finished.

Materials

Tube hydroforming can be done on metals including aluminum, brass, stainless steel, and low alloy steel.

Products

Tube hydroforming is used to make car frames, particularly high-end sports models. Specifially, engine cradles, suspension, radiator supports, and instrument panel beams are manufactured in this manner. Aluminum bicycle frames use this technology. And additionally, the brass tubes of Yamaha saxophones are made with this process.

Benefits

Tube hydroforming is desirable because it results in lightweight and structurally stiff products. The process is also very cost-effective, requiring few tools and minimal maintenance. Tube hydroforming provides an easy process for creating complex shapes, reducing the need for welding operations. Compared to other methods, tube hydroforming leaves a smooth finish and an appealing appearance.

American Hydroformers is based in Fort Wayne, IN, and specializes in the hydroform tube forming process. Whether you work in appliances, automotive, or plumbing fields, we are here to help you! Visit our “What Is Hydroforming” page to learn more about the process we use and see before and after photos.

Contact us today to request a quote and get more information about our services!

Benefits Hydroformed Components in Automobiles

Benefits Hydroformed Components in Automobiles

If you own and operate a business that focuses on creating customized motor vehicles, you may want to consider learning more about hydroformed components. They are traditionally made in two ways. One method is referred to as tube hydroforming. The other method is called sheet hydroforming. Both of which are ideal for use in body work, automotive design and engine rebuilds. Here’s why:

Structural Integrity

For starters, hydroformed components are seamless and corrosion resistant. As such, they have a greater structural integrity than those that feature welded seams. That makes them perfect for use in areas that are likely to be damaged in an impact situation (i.e. roof, bumpers and side panels). They also work well in areas that are apt to be exposed to other stressors like prolonged friction, high heat and the elements (i.e. exhaust components and engine cradles).

Reduced Costs

Another benefit to using hydroformed components in your automotive business is the cost. The components tend to require less capital to produce and have a long life span. Their reduced mass also makes them cheaper to transport and store. Because of that, you may find yourself enjoying higher profit margins than originally expected.

Highly Customizable

In addition to structural integrity and reduced costs, the hydroform process also makes it extremely easy to transform stainless steel into the exact shape that your staff needs. Thus, you can use it to quickly create a highly customized, aerodynamic vehicle for your end consumers. You can also use it to reproduce discontinued or hard to find parts for those seeking to restore a classic.

Interested in learning more about how hydroformed components can benefit your automotive business? Contact American Hydroformers today by calling 1-260-428-2660 or stop by our website. We would be more than delighted to promptly answer all of your questions.

Hydroforming Rides New Wave of Interest

Hydroforming Rides New Wave of Interest

American Hydroformers has slowly built up a niche in the tube hydroforming industry. With nearly 10 years in business, American Hydroformers is ready with expertise, equipment and capacity. Hydroformed components will never replace or completely remove stamped and welded assemblies, however the hydroforming process can delvier a superior component more cost effectively than conventional processes.  When looking at the feasibility of having a part or component hydroformed, AHI helps companies look at the technological side of the process to make sure the component will be stronger and lighter, however the business side must be addressed to make sure the component can be made faster or at a lower cost.  American Hydroformers can hydroform high-strength, low alloy materials, high yield strength materials up to 650,000 PSI dual phase steels and so on.

To read the full story about American Hydroformers in The Tube and Pipe Journal please contact us.

American Hydroformers was recently spotlighted on the cover of The Tube and Pipe Journal.  If you missed the October/November copy let us know and we’ll get you the full story.

Hydroforming is a metal fabricating and forming process which allows the shaping of metals such as steel, stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and brass. This process is a cost-effective and specialized type of die molding that utilizes highly pressurized fluid to form metal. Generally there are two classifications used to describe hydroforming, sheet hydroforming and tube hydroforming. Sheet hydroforming uses one die and a sheet of metal; the blank sheet is driven into the die by high pressure water on one side of the sheet forming the desired shape. Tube hydroforming is the expansion of metal tubes into a shape using two die halves, which contain the raw tube. Hydroforming is used to replace the older process of stamping two part halves and welding them together. It is also used to make parts both more efficiently by eliminating welding as well as creating complex shapes and contours. Parts created in this method have a number of manufacturing benefits including seamless bonding, increased part strength, and the ability to maintain high-quality surfaces for finishing purposes.  

 

Hydroforming Origins

We’re often asked when and where hydroforming started and how it came to be what it is today. With its potential for cost reduction and its obvious design advantages, it would seem that absolutely everything would be shifting to the hydroforming process.

Surprisingly, the hydroforming process actually started in the 1950’s and was used for producing kitchen spouts. At least in part, the process was developed to allow for easier metal finishing, but also offered the strength and design advantages we often speak of today.

It’s generally assumed that hydroforming is now best known for its application in the automotive sector, but it’s certainly not limited to that. Hydroforming allows complex parts to be build with less tooling, reduces weight by requiring less material, and offers the ultimate sky is the limit approach to design. Automobile designers everywhere have discovered that new hydroformed structures are a lighter and stronger alternative to traditional stamped and welded assemblies. American Hydroformers, Inc. (AHI) can meet the needs of customers in the automotive industry for hydroformed catalytic converter cones and exhaust components, crash tips, cross members, engine cradles, frame rails, header and exhaust manifolds, instrument panel beams, radiator and roof supports, trailing suspension arms and more.

For many years, high performance and race car builders have utilized tubular frame construction for its strength and lightweight nature. With the latest federal mandates for mileage and crash worthiness, hydroformed frames are an ideal solution.

AHI offers automotive hydroforming, diesel exhaust hydroforming, as well as hydroforming for plumbing, recreation vehicles, appliances and other unique applications.

Unlike other metal forming techniques, hydroforming allows for increased part strength, lower part weight, and greater design flexibility, while also improving overall part quality. Contact us to see how you can reduce your tooling and part costs.

New Universal Hydroforming Die Holder

New Universal Hydroforming Die Holder

American Hydroformers announces new Universal Die Insert Holder designed to reduce the tooling and die costs associated with hydroforming.

Fort Wayne, IN (May 31, 2012) – American Hydroformers, a leader in the hydroforming industry, has announced the purchase and implementation of a new universal die insert holder. The acquisition of this new die insert holder will allow American Hydroformers to reduce the tooling cost associated with hydroforming by as much as 60%.

Consisting of hydraulic cylinders, position encoders, upper and lower base plates, and a part specific cavity, a hydroforming die makes up a very large portion of the cost related to hydroforming. With American Hydroformers universal die insert holder, customers are only required to purchase the part specific cavity, eliminating the need for the other costly components. This helps to greatly reduce overall part cost as well as tooling and die overheads.

American Hydroformers currently has two universal die insert holders that accommodate both large and small parts. Ideal for low to medium runs, these die insert holders enable better price controls while also greatly reducing overall tooling expenses.

Unlike other metal forming techniques, hydroforming allows for increased part strength, lower part weight, and greater design flexibility, while also improving overall part quality.

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.

Unlike other metal forming techniques, hydroforming allows for increased part strength, lower part weight, and greater design flexibility, while also improving overall part quality. Contact us to see how you can reduce your tooling and part costs.

Hydroformed Exhaust Components

Hydroformed Exhaust Components

When it comes to heavy truck and construction vehicle design, space is often at a premium and rugged components are an absolute requirement. Hydroformed exhaust components from American Hydroformers, Inc. (AHI) are light and strong, making them a great choice for these types of large, heavy duty vehicles.

New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates on diesel emissions have also created additional challenges for owners of heavy truck and construction vehicles. “These new mandates have forced manufacturers to repackage their systems and add additional components to already heavy, crowded vehicles,” explains, Todd Ellinger, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for AHI. “Fortunately, modern day exhaust systems are perfect candidates for the hydroforming process.”

The hydroforming process enables the creation of custom shapes, allowing designers to achieve the packaging and flow paths required. Shape changes, such as round and rectangular sections, are best achieved by hydroforming as material must typically be corrosion-resistant 400 series stainless steel.
Besides heavy duty vehicles, hydroformed components are also a superb option for lighter duty automobiles and small trucks. Hydroformed exhaust structures are a lighter and stronger alternative to traditional stamped and welded assemblies. AHI can meet the needs of customers in the automotive industry for hydroformed catalytic converter cones and exhaust components, crash tips, cross members, engine cradles, frame rails, header and exhaust manifolds, instrument panel beams, radiator and roof supports, trailing suspension arms and more.

Unlike other metal forming techniques, hydroforming allows for increased part strength, lower part weight, and greater design flexibility, while also improving overall part quality. Contact us to see how you can reduce your tooling and part costs.

AHI Adds 1800 Ton Hydroforming Press

AHI Adds 1800 Ton Hydroforming Press

American Hydroformers Inc. has been supplying parts to the automotive industry for nearly 10 years now. Hydroforming gives our customers the ability to specify lighter weight, stronger parts with the benefit of removing multiple manufacturing processes.  One thing we have learned over the years, if you are going to serve the major businesses in any industry they must have complete faith in your companies ability to supply their demand.  Most clients will not even give you the time of day if you do not have redundant press capabilities to continue supplying their production schedules and or production lines.  Currently we have 3 hydroforming presses and are in the process or adding to it.  We are constantly looking for ways to improve our processes to remain competitive and expand our product offerings. We have recently taken possession of an 1800 Ton Hydrap Pressen Hydroforming Press that is in the construction process at our Ft. Wayne, IN facility.  This press will gives us the ability to add another hydroforming operation to our manufacturing process or it can also serve a pre-forming function to one of our other hydroforming presses.

We also rely heavily on our in-house tool and die shops that give us the ability to customize dies and maintenance them accordingly.  We run many components and parts for other Tier 1 suppliers when they are overwhelmed, sure we help out our competitors at times, but we have come to find that building a relationship with everyone in the industry is much more beneficial for everyone.

Unlike other metal forming techniques, hydroforming allows for increased part strength, lower part weight, and greater design flexibility, while also improving overall part quality. Contact us to see how you can reduce your tooling and part costs.