Aerospace and aircraft manufacturers search for outside processes for many of the components needed in the assembly of their highly complex products, and when it comes to formed metal parts, they search for hydroforming. Hydroformed parts have minimal surface imperfections, because tight specifications on contour and flatness can be achieved, and exotic materials can be utilized.
Take the swirl cup, for example, which is a component in the exhaust system of a jet engine.The swirl cup can be produced from a metal blank of up to 32 inches in diameter, which is just the right size for a large hydroforming machine. Forming this part can involve three different draws on the machine and two anneals to produce a circular shape with six cup-shaped formations. With each draw and anneal, the material moves closer into the desired shape and depth until it has reached specification. After forming, it is ready for secondary operations such as laser cutting, extruding, and machining. Because of its complexity, the swirl cup is considered a difficult part to form and work with, but the technology of hydroforming keeps the forming process simple and precise. Jones Metal Products Company has three 32″ hydroforming machines that are large enough produce the swirl cups, along with eight other hydroforms for smaller work.
Hydroforming has the capability of producing aerospace parts from several different materials. Aluminum and aluminum alloys are used to produce aerospace gyroscope cases, oil filter pans for the helicopter market and lens retainers. Some jet engine components are made of stainless steel. Nickel alloys are used for parts in nozzle systems, nose cones, cowls and the swirl cup discussed above. And titanium is used for components of potable water tanks.
Aerospace manufacturers typically order relatively small quantities of these kinds of parts, usually in a range of one to 200 parts, which works well with the Jones Metal hydroforming process. Our machines form parts under many pounds of pressure per square inch, and we produce each part one by one under close inspection, in order to produce each part to satisfy all various aerospace specifications.
We’d love to talk to you more about hydroforming, call us at 740-545-6381!
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