Solving the Top Hydroforming Challenges

Hydroforming Apr 09, 2018

Using Our Experience to Bring You the Best

Each company and process faces its own challenges, and Jones Metal is no exception. With more than 60 years of hydroforming services under our belts, we know where the challenges lie and how to avoid the pitfalls. That’s one reason why Jones’ on-time production results continually exceed the 90th percentile.

Hydroforming is a cold-forming method that deep draws metal and seeks a balance between the flow and stretching of material. If the metal flows too easily, it wrinkles, and if it stretches too much, it cracks and breaks. With that in mind, here are the primary challenges that hydroformers face.

Design Tolerances

Design tolerances keep getting tighter. These tolerances aren’t always necessary to fabricate the assembly, but engineers are always looking for ways to guarantee that parts will fit perfectly together. That being said, part tolerances greatly affect production costs and quality checks of the parts. At Jones, our engineering-oriented experts bring this into consideration when looking at your drawings; they can help you decide the best and most cost-effective method for your parts.

Tight Corners

By applying the right amount of pressure, hydroforming can create shapes with sharp-radius features . That being said, this poses a particular challenge because the material must flow across the tooling or breaks will occur. Across our large, state-of-the-art facility, we have 11 deep draw hydroforming machines; with these, we can use the ideal size machine for the need of your part. This helps prevent improper forming or material tearing.

Flat surfaces

In general, the flat areas of parts are among the most difficult shapes to maintain. For instance, a flat box top will tend to bow in forming. This is where a fabricator has a big advantage; it’s a relatively simple matter to bend and weld a box together. We have developed ways to maintain the shape of these parts, but it is definitely a black art in tool design and process. Hydroforming works best with materials that are difficult to form because it supports the entire surface of the blank as it is forming. This lets us control the flow and stretch of material.

Materials

The most difficult materials for hydroforming are 17-4 PH, 17-7 PH and titanium grades because they are resistant  to form. For parts made of these materials, other methods of forming sometimes are required, such as hot forming.

Lubrication

It is not just about the type of lubricant used, but how and where it is applied.  Sometimes the line between breaking and wrinkling a part is so small that the lubricant can become the deciding factor between success and failure. Our technicians precisely coat and lubricate tooling and material to minimize the risk of this factor.

Tool Design

This is especially challenging when it takes more than one tool to form a good part that meets the tolerances of a print. This comes into play when moving material into a difficult area that is causing breaks in the material. We work with you to decide the best option for your design; you can send us your drawing and speak with an expert about specific design concerns.

Jones Metal Products is dedicated to solving the top hydroforming challenges and delivering the best quality of product possible. If you have questions about how hydroforming can save you money and boost the quality of your metal products, call us today at 888-868-6535.

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Hydroforming, Aluminum Heat Treating & Deep Draw Stamping