Fluid forming employs the use of a single tool on which the blank is placed this is located below a fluid cell with the fluid contained through the use of a rubber diaphragm.
The rubber diaphragm used in the fluid form process allows an even pressure to be exerted on the component blank as it is being formed around the tool. Local stress concentrations are thus minimised reducing the chances crack initiation and wrinkle formation. In addition the entire area of the blank is controlled during the forming operation. As a result complex shapes can be formed while still maintaining accurate control of the finished wall thickness and reducing thinning to typically less than 5%.
The versatility and controllability of the fluid forming process allows almost any kind of sheet metal to be formed, in thicknesses ranging from 0.05mm to 10.0mm.
Hydro-mechanical forming is a very similar process to fluid forming, like fluid forming it employs both a fluid cell and a one part tool however in hydro-mechanical forming the fluid cell is at the base with the component blank placed on top of it and the tool above that, more importantly it does not employ the use a rubber diaphragm in the forming process.
The lack of a diaphragm means that hydro-mechanical forming is used to produce completely different components to fluid forming. Hydro-mechanical forming produces components that are not as intricate and relatively simple in shape when compared to fluid formed components, however the ability to alter the fluid pressure during the forming process allows very high levels of small detail to be left on the component.
Conventional cushion deep draw forming uses a two part tool one piece attached to the ram and the other fixed to a hydraulically driven cushion, this cushion provides the resistance to the ram that stops the blank splitting during forming. Because of the metal to metal characteristics of this type of forming it is almost impossible to produce the accuracy found in the other methods we use, consequently it is used as a complementary method to our other forming techniques.
Our forming techniques allow us to produce single part components to replace the multi-component assemblies that are produced using other manufacturing techniques. Typical cost savings over these type assemblies are 50% to 75% for both tooling and production.
The fluid forming process removes the need for adjustment and resizing while still providing repeatability and is a cost effective replacement for processes like, spinning, deep draw, drop hammer, dual form, asea press, hot forming and areas of superplastic forming.