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Jan 12, 2024

Sheet Metal Hydroforming and Sustainable Manufacturing: Get the Facts

The Future of Sheet Metal Hydroforming

Where we’ve been with sheet metal hydroforming (hello, bladder-based hydroforming) doesn’t always determine where we’re going (hello, FluidForming precision deep draw hydroforming).

Sometimes, though, it makes sense to look back. Regular readers of this blog will know that we’re always looking forward to stay ahead of industry trends—but for everyone who hasn’t been following along, here’s a roundup of resources on the ways that FluidForming’s sustainable manufacturing and sustainable metal forming process upends the metal hydroforming status quo.

Sheet Metal Hydroforming History and the Cincinnati Process

Hydroforming was a big leap forward for the metalforming industry: by using fluid dynamics, shops could develop lighter, stronger and more durable components than machining, die stamping or die casting. The process hit full swing with the development of the Cincinnati Hydroforming process in the 1950s, a story we tell in this post about the history (and the future!) of hydroforming technologies.

Leaving the 20th Century Behind

Cincinnati Milacron’s durable workhorse machines used hydraulic-fluid-filled bladders to shape the metal parts that drove the US manufacturing boom in the second half of the 20th century. The process produced parts that were lighter than die casting and more accurate than die stamping—but the Cincinnati process was a single leap. With the majority of the original presses manufactured between 1930 and 1960 reaching the end of their effective lifespan, the Cincinnati process remains merely mid-century modern.

As the first significant advance in metalforming technologies since the 1950s, FluidForming pushes the technology that built Edsels into the information age. With better accuracy, surface quality, and structural integrity than its predecessors, FluidForming Americas’ hydroforming machine, the FormBalancer, is more flexible, more sustainable, and more precise than legacy metalforming.

Poised For Innovation

The FormBalancer’s bladder-free process innovates sheet metal hydroforming, and enables manufacturers to pursue innovation more quickly and confidently than ever before. It’s possible to move from ideation to CAD to production in a matter of days, and because the FormBalancer usually requires a single die from prototyping through production, it can lower tooling costs by up to 88%.

The FormBalancer offers an unprecedented combination of technologies in a single machine, and one of its most important capabilities is seamless integration with 3D printed tooling. By adopting up-to-the-moment tooling capabilities, FluidForming sidesteps wasted materials, time, and skyrocketing production costs from complex part designs. As FFA’s President and CEO Paul Benny says, “complexity is free with 3D printing.”

In production, too, the FormBalancer operates with up to four times the pressure of traditional hydroforming presses—up to 4,000 bar or 60,000 psi. This means that manufacturers aren’t restricted to traditional materials, and can employ high-tech alloys in their designs. In fact, the increasing use of novel materials was one of our key trends in 2023!

Recycling and Waste Reduction

Beyond its next-level capabilities, the FormBalancer is a safer, greener, more sustainable option for parts production. Considerably less energy-intensive than die casting, FluidForming also uses recycled water as its forming force rather than hydraulic fluid. And a 480V FormBalancer press draws just 90-200 kW of power, reducing energy costs and consumption!

Industries Served By FluidForming Sheet Metal Hydroforming

All of this means that FluidForming’s eco-friendly approach is a natural match for manufacturers in a range of industries. Our case studies demonstrate FluidForming’s innovative approaches in a number of sectors, and FluidForming delivers sustainable solutions for industries ranging from recreation to military and defense contracting. What’s more, our focus on green manufacturing makes us a natural fit for companies working in the renewable energy sector, too.

With the FormBalancer, FluidForming Americas presses past more traditional metal forming technologies and tools. To learn more about the FormBalancer’s capabilities and benefits, contact FluidForming Americas at (800) 497-3545 or email us at We form parts for any industry! Get on our production schedule today!

FluidForming Americas, Inc. is a member of the Precision Metal Forming Association and is AS9100 Rev D, ISO 9001:2015 certified. ITAR registered.