Discover the Benefits of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and the Power of FluidForming

 In FluidForming, Hydroforming, Metal Forming, Technology

Wondering About the Benefits of Finite Element Analysis (FEA)?

Enjoy the benefits of finite element analysis (FEA). Improve product design and lower costs FluidForming and FEA. Do you want to know which metal and metal thickness is the best choice for your parts before you start manufacturing them? Are you wondering how your part designs will perform under FluidForming’s intense forming pressures? 

To ensure the highest levels of formability, accuracy, and repeatability, FluidForming Americas (FFA) offers its customers detailed pre-production FEA reports. So you can enjoy the benefits of finite element analysis!

FEA part simulation and modeling improves product development, trims costs, and shortens overall time-to-market. FluidForming’s FEA software accurately predicts how a product will react in the real-world forming process. FFA provides information about part formability, material thinning, part springback, as well as work hardening data. This information can be used to identify potential problem areas in your design. Using FFA’s FEA data, customers can conduct an in-house analysis to study mechanical stress, vibration, heat, heat transfer, fluid flow, and more. 

This computer analysis uses mathematical equations to predict — with a very high degree of accuracy — how well a part will form using the FluidForming process and technology. 

“There’s no other metal forming process or hydroforming machine on the market that can form metal with as much precision as FluidForming and our family of FormBalancer machines. When you add FEA into the equation, our new hydroforming technology has the potential to revolutionize how companies iterate, develop, and manufacture their products” said Paul Benny, President and CEO of FluidForming Americas. “We take the guesswork out of metal forming. Our process is the most collaborative and accurate in the metal forming industry.”

How FluidForming FEA Works

“It’s a collaborative process,” notes FFA Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Jurgen Pannock. “Customers provide FluidForming’s engineers with a 3D CAD file of the part or component they’d like to form using the FluidForming process. Then, the technology team analyzes the design using the FEA software and creates a detailed analysis of how the component would respond to FluidForming’s unique hydroforming process.

“Any variations from the desired part are readily identified and quantified. We can also help customers identify which material would perform best. This information is shared with the customer and the customer’s engineers. Together we can improve forming and part performance with very low cost and tremendous savings in time before ever creating the actual tool,” says Pannock.

FluidForming’s use of FEA not only ensures that the best possible part is formed, but it saves costs throughout the part development process, reduces prototyping costs, and accelerates the time to market.

FluidForming’s extremely high hydroforming pressures (up to 60,000 psi), nested tooling capabilities, fast operating cycle times, and its compatibility with challenging materials such as alloys and pre-finished and pre-painted surfaces make the FluidForming technology and process the most innovative on the market. Additionally, the possibility of roll feeding the material and die trimming the parts in line with the machine allow for even more cost-effective mass production setups.

Furthermore, each machine in the FormBalancer lineup is compatible with 3D printed, sintered metal, tool steel, aluminum, and composite tooling. 

“FluidForming is the only Six Sigma metal forming process available and the implications of FluidForming on the future of the manufacturing industry are profound. Ideas that were once deemed too costly, or impossible to metal form are a reality with our technology. Finite Element Analysis is just the icing on the cake,” said Benny. 

Benefits of FEA: A Real-Life Example

Recently, a leading global manufacturer of cooling towers, closed-circuit cooling, evaporative condensers, and ice thermal storage solutions approached us to run an analysis of plate heat exchanger surfaces.

They tasked us with determining which material and which material thickness would work best for their new heat exchangers.

After experiencing unacceptable levels of metal spring-back, material thinning, and splits in heat exchangers formed by legacy forming methods, the client approached the FluidForming team to run an analysis — using several different variables — on a new heat exchanger design the company was considering producing.

Unlike many metal forming shops that rely on legacy metal forming methods — and costly trial and error production runs — FluidForming Americas worked collaboratively to help identify which material was the most formable and showed the least splitting, material thinning, and spring back. 

Before a single heat exchanger was formed.

In this example, FluidForming’s FEA simulation could potentially:

  • Reduce tooling costs
  • Help the client select the optimum material
  • Optimize design
  • Improve functionality
  • Improve manufacturability 
  • Provide information for dynamic testing

FluidForming’s Six Sigma process produces components with minimal warping, unparalleled accuracy, and high repeatability rates. As a result, using the FluidForming metal forming process to manufacture heat exchangers would eliminate guesswork, improve part performance, minimize post-production fixturing, and reduce scrap rates.

Because just one surface of the heat exchanger’s sheet metal is exposed to the flexible and self-adjusting tool surface (water) under variably controlled pressures, the material is forced evenly into the tool and onto the tool surface. Consequently, the finished part has little to no distance between the tool and the metal surface, resulting in a highly accurate part and repeatable process.

With a 99.996% first-pass yield success rate, the FluidForming technology and process guarantee quality, accuracy, and repeatability. With pressures up to 4x as high as those used by traditional hydroforming devices, FluidFormed heat exchangers show minimal warping or springback, which virtually eliminates post-forming fixturing and clamping and, therefore, minimizes downstream cost. 

To learn more about the FluidForming technology and process and to find out if our reinvention of hydroforming is right for your next project, contact FluidForming Americas at (800) 497-3545 or email us at info@ffamericas.com.

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