Hydroforming: Another Cold Working Process
A widely used process in the automotive industry is hydroforming. Hydroforming is also referred to as hydramolding and is mainly used to make lighter and stronger unibody vechicle structures. It is especially used in the high-end sports car industry. It is also used to shape the aluminum tubes of bicycle frames.
The metalworking process of hydroforming utilizes pressurized fluids to shape metals in equipment called fluid dies. Fluid dies are a hardened metal shape of a specific shape to be molded. The metal to be formed is placed on this shape and is subjected to hydraulic pressure so that it may take a new shape, the shape of the die to be more exact.
Hydroforming, like metal spinning, is a cold working process. Hydroformed metals are processed at or near room temperatures in order for qualities such as strength and durability can be added to the shaped metal’s characteristics. This cold working process is a good, and sometimes better, alternative to hot metalworking processes because heat can created unwanted metal composition changes such as metal oxidation because it works at the metal’s recrystallization point.
The hydroforming process has the capacity to create complex shapes with inconsistent dimensions and varying wall thickness. Some examples of metals that can be used in the hydroforming process include aluminum, carbon steel, mild steel, copper, brass and bronze alloys, nickel and nickel alloys and aluminum alloys.
Hydroforming is cost-effective and advantageous. While other types of metal spinning and metalworking processes utilize three different kinds of operations, hydroforming uses one. There are four types of hydroforming. The most popular of them is the hydroforming of tubes. Panel hydroforming is mostly used in the aerospace industry. Low-pressure hydroforming is the reshaping of tubes when the cross-section definition is not strict. The fourth type is high-pressure hydroforming and drastically reshapes tubes.