What is FluidForming and How Does This New Metal Forming Process Work?

What is FluidForming?

It’s hydroforming reinvented. FluidForming Americas (FFA) is pleased to introduce an industry-changing and modern take on hydroforming. More significantly, it’s the first major innovation in metal forming technology and the first new alternative to metal stamping in more than 60 years! FluidForming technology differs from traditional metalworking processes in several ways, all of which save on production time and manufacturing costs.

FFA’s environmentally-friendly process is the perfect metal forming solution for a wide range of industries including the appliance, automotive, aerospace, and medical markets.

How Does FluidForming Work?

Unlike legacy hydroforming systems, which deform metal into a predefined geometry or shape using hydraulic oil and an inflatable bladder which presses the sheet metal into the die, FluidForming’s bladder-free technology uses liquid tap water with forming pressures up to 400 mPA/60,000 psi. These pressures are significantly higher than any other hydroforming process currently available. (By comparison, forming pressures for standard hydroforming reach maximum levels at 100 mPA/15,000 psi.) Furthermore, unlike die-stamping, only one tool is required and the prototype and production tool are the same.

The Fluid Forming Process: Step by Step

The FluidForming process begins when the pressure pillow establishes clamping pressure and closing forces which are uniformly distributed throughout the frame. Next, water is introduced into the patented, force-contained FluidForming FormBalancer machine with pressures of up to 400 mPA/60,000 psi. Tool and pressure plate remain plane-parallel even at maximum forces.

Depending on the geometry, the sheet metal blank is clamped into position or allowed to flow into the cavity in a controlled manner. The machine’s higher pressures enables the material to flow into the die, providing an even distribution of material in critical areas. During the final forming stage the sheet metal rests, fully-formed, against the die surface without potentially damaging friction. The fully formed part, which is essentially free from spring-back, can now be removed from the machine.

Because every facet of the forming process, from blank design to material flow to clamping pressure and volume and pressure of water, is variable and controlled, FluidForming achieves finer, more detailed results. Furthermore, the process can be automated or operated manually.

The Profound Implications of FluidForming

While the physics of FluidForming are pretty straightforward, the implications of this new alternative metal forming are profound.

Thanks to higher forming pressures and our compact, force-contained FormBalancer machine, the FluidForming process makes it possible to form complex, highly-detailed, and highly-repeatable parts at an overall cost that is significantly lower than those produced by conventional, die-based metal stamping or bladder-based hydroforming. Nested, split, and multi-cavity tools provide cost-effective ways to produce small part families.

Conveniently, the FormBalancer is a universal sheet metal and tube forming machine. The only one of its kind, in fact. No additional foundation requirements are necessary, which results in flexible floor placement options.

FluidForming was designed with rapid prototyping and low- to medium volume production in mind. However, the machine also has the ability to mass produce. Manufacturers enjoy shorter time-to-market and lower overall cost-to-market ratios. Because the FluidForming system enables the smooth and seamless transition from CAD to 3D-printed tooling, companies are able to move from the design phase to production within days, rather than weeks or even months. In most cases, the prototype tooling is the production tool.

FluidForming enables innovation by dramatically lowering tooling and production costs, reducing production times, and by eliminating the need for environmentally harmful and costly hydraulic fluid. To learn more about the principles of FluidForming and to find out how to put the FluidForming technology into your plant, contact FluidForming Americas today at (800) 497-3545 or email us at info@ffamericas.com.

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