Hydroforming is quickly becoming the go-to process in the metal fabrication industry, most notably in the automotive sector. They have been experiencing great success in the sense that the process can help reduce weight, overall costs and also the total number of parts per vehicle. There are many factors which affect the hydroforming process and the process comes with several advantages as well as disadvantages, some of the basics of which are introduced below.
The Advantages of Hydroforming
As mentioned earlier, hydroforming has become a widespread and popular technology to be used in the production of structural components in the automotive industry and can often be applied for stainless steel fabrication, aluminium fabrication, and steel fabrication. This is primarily due to the fact that hydroforming allows the engineers to produce designs through cross-sectional reshaping and an expansion of the perimeter. Additionally, hydroforming equips the engineers with the ability to create holes required in the component very cheaply.
Hydroforming also provides some advantages in the case of tubular components, which include:
- The formation of strong and sturdier parts and vastly improved structural integrity.
- Reduction in the weight of the part by designing smarter, more efficient sections and modifications to the thickness of the walls.
- Because fewer parts are produced the cost of tooling is also reduced.
- Less scrap is produced.
Although hydroforming offers its advantages, it does come with a few drawbacks. First off, the equipment for hydroforming processes are very expensive and the process is somewhat slow. Therefore, careful assessment from an economic standpoint for each part is required before diving into it. As for the slow cycle speeds of hydroforming, other smaller processes can be integrated to help cut down on time and make the whole process slightly faster. Finally, it is always recommended to test a component to its limits using computer simulations before it is manufactured via hydroforming.
Tube Hydroforming Process – Factors that Affect It
As the use of hydroforming expands, so do the issues that need to be dealt with in order to properly produce the right parts and the case of the stamping industry, these issues need to be dealt with:
- Preparing the tubes usually involves selecting the material for the tube and its quality.
- Depending on the complexity of the final product, the tube may have to be preformed.
- There are issues with assembling the hydroformed products after welding.
- Selecting a lubricant that does not easily break down at high pressures
Friction and the Lubricant
Friction in the tube hydroforming process is determined by the lubricant, the properties of the material of the tube, notably its surface texture and yield strength and the de surface.
Selecting a proper lubricant for the job requires an understanding of internal pressures, the sliding velocity and the distances involved with that specific part.
Tubular hydroforming is becoming popular due to all the production advantages it brings forth but a careful analysis of how it can be applied to your manufacturing needs is important. Much like other processes in the fabrication industries like laser cutting, metal rolling and metal bending, a lot of factors affect the feasibility of a process and so, knowing beforehand some of the basics behind a process is important.