Hydroforming is an innovative high-pressure forming process that is based on the use of an active medium. With this method, pipes and sheet metal blanks can be brought into the desired shape. When processing circuit boards, hydroforming has proven to be an effective alternative or supplement to conventional deep-drawing.
What is hydroforming?
In this process, a machine uses a liquid medium under high pressure to form the respective molded part. The FormBalancer forming machine from FLUID Forming uses a forming pressure of up to 4,000 bar for this purpose.
The term hydroforming has different meanings, which can lead to confusion. Basically, it acts as a generic term for the two variants internal high-pressure forming (IHU) and external high-pressure forming (AHU). Hydroforming is often used as a synonym for both hydroforming and hydroforming. Both variants can be implemented with Fluid Forming Technology.
With the FormBalancer, the company FLUID Forming presents a machine with which both hydroforming variants can be implemented. The industrial company is not only limited to the much more common hydroforming, but also focuses in particular on tailor-made solutions in the area of AHU.
A comparison of hydroforming and deep drawing
Modern hydroforming processes and classic deep drawing can be used for the same purpose: the forming of sheet metal blanks. Despite certain similarities, the approach differs fundamentally. Hydroforming is an active media-based forming process without a stamp. Instead of a stamp, the metal blank is formed into a cavity using water power. In contrast, in deep drawing, a stamp is used to form a sheet metal blank into a cavity.
Due to these different procedures, hydroforming performs better than deep drawing in several respects. A major advantage is the high surface quality after forming. With hydroforming you avoid classic deep-drawing marks, subsequent work is only necessary in exceptional cases. Another advantage is the optimized material thickness distribution over the entire surface. In addition, speed advantages in tool and prototype construction as well as financial advantages in tool investment costs speak in favor of hydroforming.
How does hydroforming work?
In hydroforming, the forming takes place with a liquid active medium. This requires a high forming pressure – the company FLUID Forming, for example, works with a forming pressure of up to 4,000 bar. High clamping forces of up to 8,000 tons can be used to ensure the forming process. Due to the high closing forces, no additional sealants are required.
What are the advantages of hydroforming?
Hydroforming offers advantages in terms of surface quality, implementation of complex geometries and tool cost savings of up to 80%. You also benefit from the time factor: With hydroforming, prototypes can be produced within 6-8 weeks. This forming process therefore belongs to the rapid prototyping category.
Which industries use hydroforming?
Hydroforming impresses with its versatility: In this way, components for a wide range of industries can be produced. The customer base of companies like FLUID Forming is correspondingly diverse. The Lower Saxony specialist works, for example, with customers from the automotive industry, electromobility, the aircraft industry and medical technology.