Using the hydroforming aluminum process to produce tubular parts involves careful consideration of equipment, materials, needed tubes, lubricants and the assurance of friction. Dating back to the 1950s, tubular hydroforming is primarily used for bicycles and automotive parts such as the rear axles and general frame construction for high-end sports cars like BMW and Volvo.
Metals used in the hydroforming process are stainless steel, brass and other alloy steels. Although Jones Metal does not actively perform tubular or tube hydroforming, it’s widely accepted that hydroforming of aluminum can be done using either high or low pressures and involves creating a tube with a die, then filling it with hydraulic fluid and sealing it on both ends. The end product is very sturdy aluminum parts.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to hydroforming aluminum. The disadvantages are that the equipment can be expensive, the process can be slower than other alternatives and there are a limited number of technicians trained in performing this type of process. Despite these disadvantages, the advantages are plentiful. Parts created using this process are much sturdier, and there are fewer parts needed in the overall design. And because there are fewer parts, the overall cost of material is less, there is less material waste, and the parts have a tighter tolerance and are more durable over time.
There are nine different machines on the accepted list of equipment able to perform the hydroforming aluminum process. These are Williams & White 4,000 Ton Hydroforming Press; Schuler 5,000 Ton Hydroforming Press; Schwarze-Robitec (SWR) CNC 130 and CNC 100; Huber and Bauer 1,750 Ton Hydroforming Press, 200 and 500 Ton Forming Press, 4,000 Ton Triple Acting Stamping Press; Two – 3-Dimensional 5-Axis Laser; Trumf Laser Sheet Cutter; and an Annealing Oven.
Different types of presses play a distinct role in hydroforming aluminum. For example, tube hydroforming presses are considered hydraulic equipment and their components are made up of a pressure intensifier, which does the compressing in a short amount of time; axial cylinders that are used to seal the ends of the tubes by compressing them; and blocks that control the press enabling better control of the parts, which make production errors less likely.
To learn more about hydroforming aluminum, call Jones Metal at 740-545-6381.
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