At Metal Craft Spinning & Stamping, we’ve provided metal fabrication services to customers across North America for over 50 years. One of our core service offerings is hydroforming.
What Is Hydroforming?
Hydroforming is the process of shaping metals (e.g., aluminum, brass, steel, copper, and stainless steel) into durable but lightweight pieces. It is quick, efficient, and cost-effective at producing parts with even wall thicknesses and tight tolerances across multiple orders. The manufacturing technique is especially suitable for forming ductile metals into intricate components.
How Does Hydroforming Work?
Hydroforming—also referred to as internal high-pressure forming—relies on six basic components: a tube or other preform/profile, a hydroforming press, a die, a punch or punches, and a liquid working medium (typically a water-oil emulsion). The process generally proceeds as follows:
- Positioning the blank in the hydroforming press between the die and punch(es)
- Closing the hydroforming press
- Filling the blank with the liquid working medium
- Pressurizing the liquid working medium with the punch(es)
- Releasing the pressure in the forming chamber
- Retracting the punch(es)
- Removing the formed part
The pressurization of the liquid working medium by the punches increases the internal pressure within the blank. As a result, it begins to expand from the inside out, forcing it to take on the shape of the closed die. The amount of pressure required to create the desired component depends on the type of material, the material thickness, and the smallest radii in the part design.
Hydroformed parts can have simple or complex shapes with exceptional strength properties. These qualities make them suitable for use in a wide range of industries, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Household Appliances
- Machine and Equipment Construction
What Are the Advantages of Hydroforming?
Compared to other metal forming methods, hydroforming offers many advantages, such as:
- Broader design freedom. The hydroforming process enables manufacturers to create shapes and features that are difficult or impossible to produce using stamping or other forming methods.
- Smaller need for secondary operations. Carefully designed hydroformed components can combine multiple operations into a single step, reducing the need for secondary assembly and finishing work. Additionally, they generally have clean and shiny surface finishes, which further eliminates the need for additional surface finishing operations.
- Lower material utilization and part weight. Since hydroforming operations do not take away any material from the blank, they can utilize thinner starting materials, which translates to less material utilized during production and less weight in the final product.
- Higher mechanical strength. Hydroforming causes strain hardening in materials, resulting in components with enhanced strength.
- Better dimensional/forming accuracy. The increased strength of hydroformed materials reduces the risk of spring back, which helps improve dimensional and forming accuracy.
Is Hydroforming Right For Your Application?
Hydroforming offers a number of advantages over other metal forming methods. However, it may not be suitable for every metal fabrication project. It is essential to consider the unique characteristics of the process and evaluate whether they meet the needs of the specific application.
The process accommodates nearly any metal that can be cold formed, including aluminum, copper, nickel, stainless steel, and steel. It is particularly well-suited for creating parts that are intricate, complex, asymmetrical, or long and shallow.
Why Partner With Metal Craft for Your Hydroforming Needs?
Metal Craft Spinning & Stamping is a fourth-generation metal fabrication company committed to designing, manufacturing, and delivering high-quality metal components. By partnering with us for your hydroforming needs, you benefit from our:
- Extensive design and engineering expertise. Our engineering team will work with you from start to finish to ensure your product meets your exact specifications.
- Short lead times and inexpensive tooling. As the hydroforming process does not require pressure plates, we have most ring sizes on hand, which allows us to be competitive with our lead times and prices. This quality makes us a top choice for large and small orders.
- Broad range of additional services. In addition to our hydroforming capabilities, we offer a variety of finishing and secondary services to ensure you receive fully completed products.