Hydroforming prototypes: The optimal cold-forming method for R&D

Hydroforming Oct 18, 2013

Hydroforming is a commonly-used, cost-effective cold forming process that works extremely well for prototyping used in research and development. Prototyping is an important part of the engineering process and is used to test parts on a small scale before they are manufactured on a larger scale. It also enables engineers to bring their concepts to life. Unfortunately, there isn’t always time or budget available for prototyping, but when there is, hydroforming with Jones Metal Products is the optimal process for creating prototypes and short-runs.

There are a number of benefits associated with hydroforming prototypes, compared to other cold-forming methods. Hydroforming mitigates part stretching because it produces much less friction than other methods, creating more flexible design options. A hydroformed prototype will always emerge with uniform thickness and increased drawability of the material. It also means prototypes can be formed in a number of irregular shapes, thin or thick, big or small—the options are endless. Further, the finished prototype emerges without blemish and doesn’t require a costly finishing or buffing process, which is unlike any other cold forming method.

During the hydroforming process, a rubber diaphragm composes the female die and presses through a metal ring in a forming chamber. In the chamber, a pressurized oil presses the female die into the male die. Virtually any type of metal can undergo the process of hydroforming, including steel, brass, nickel alloys, bronze, aluminum, copper, titanium, lead, and many more. With other metal-forming methods, prototypes might require multiple press cycles. With hydroforming, however, parts can be drawn in a single cycle. That can net a reduction of 60-70 percent, as compared to 35-45 percent for other die presses. Click on this video to see the hydroforming process.

At Jones Metal, we want to make prototyping an attainable goal for our customers, so we offer simplified modifications in tooling, and the ability to draw different thickness of metal on the same tooling. Our team of engineers can work with clients early in the design process to collaborate on the most cost-effective process for a design. We have the equipment and experience to make any of our customers’ prototypes a reality, efficiently and within budget.

To learn more about hydroforming prototypes, call Jones Metal at 740-545-6381!

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