Today, almost all enterprises that need formed components have concerns about the weight, strength, and price of the component. While metal stamping has been the conventional metal forming method, it doesn’t always guarantee the above mentioned attributes that industries increasingly look for.
Here are a few disadvantages of stamping that are becoming conspicuous with every passing year:
- When it comes to stamped components, costs for low production runs have never been economical. Facilities that need to put their entire array of tools into action usually shy away from accepting smaller runs. High tooling costs are proving to be the biggest enemy of the stamping industry.
- Moreover, in certain cases, stamping could have an adverse effect on the structural strength of the components being formed.
- Stamping often leads to material wastage. Most stamping firms have no way to re-use the ‘un-stamped’ parts of sheet metal, thus resulting in the material being scrapped.
- The process of prototyping and manufacturing tooling translates into longer lead times in the metal stamping process. Also, once finalized, changing the tooling design is not feasible as it significantly increases the project costs. Simply stated, stamping has high project costs and longer time lines.
A better, smarter metal forming process
Hydroforming is a metal forming process that effectively addresses all the drawbacks associated with the metal stamping process. As part of this method, a pressurized hydraulic fluid is used for forming a metal sheet in the desired shape.
It is possible to form a limited batch of components using this method. Designing molds and making alterations to them can be done in a few days without adding considerable costs to the project. Sometimes, this method can be combined with deep drawing so as to achieve intricate and precisely contoured components. This process is suitable for shaping ductile metals such as 300 and 400 series stainless steel, brass, bronze, aluminum (recommended for low-weight applications), inconel, copper, and so on.
Hydroforming as a process can be used for producing parts that have a diameter of up to 20” and a height of up to 9”. It can be used for creating components in both concave and convex shapes.
The increasing significance of hydro-formed components
In the recent past, a number of industries right from automobile to aerospace have been switching over to hydro-formed components. Unlike metal stamping, this method has proven to be extremely economical while producing high-consistency parts and components with the desired tolerances. In addition, it is a clean process considerable reduces the need for secondary finishing operations.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that hydro-formed components are in demand in industries such as metal furniture bases, industrial pump components, HVAC components, medical equipment, commercial food equipment, nuclear industry, and so on.