New Technology Brings Exciting Alternatives to Metal Stamping
Product designers, production engineers, and CEOs alike are celebrating the flexibility and possibilities that the new FluidForming technology brings to the table. This new metal forming process, first introduced in Germany in 2000 and recently introduced to American markets by FluidForming Americas (FFA), marks the first major advancement in sheet metal shaping in more than 60 years! FluidForming is an enabling technology that encourages innovation and advancement.
Unlike conventional metal forming methods including sheet metal stamping, roll forming, die casting, extrusion, and traditional hydroforming, FluidForming can achieve a higher degree of very accurate deformation and while keeping tooling and production costs low. Low-cost, rapid prototyping means the time between idea and production is dramatically reduced, which inspires creativity and ingenuity.
By applying uniform force to the sheet metal, the highly-pressurized fluid (in this instance, recycled water) shapes the metal into the form of the tool. FluidForming’s extraordinarily high forming pressures (up to 400 mPA/60,000 psi) ensures maximum deformation, allowing for highly detailed component production.
Limitations of Conventional Hydroforming
Legacy hydroforming methods rely on costly bladders and hydraulic oil to form sheet metal. Not only are resulting components less detailed than those formed by FluidForming, but because of increased friction between the bladder and the part being formed, they require additional post-production fixturing.
A component created by using the FluidForming process shows less internal stress and a less of a tendency to return to its original shape than legacy metal forming methods. When compared to traditional hydroforming, FluidForming also produces components that demonstrate a more homogeneous strength and higher dimensional accuracy.
Separate equipment for tube forming and sheet metal forming is a must with these legacy systems. However, the FormBalancer, FluidForming’s revolutionary and self-contained machine, takes up little floor space and with just a few simple modifications, the same machine can perform sheet metal forming and tube forming functions.
Limitations of Die Stamping
This method of metalworking, which was invented in the 1800s, hasn’t changed all that much in the intervening years. The dies are heavy and expensive and noisy machinery is required. Die-stamping machines are also very heavy, occupy substantial amount of floor space, and require special and expensive foundations. It’s virtually impossible to form intricate pieces with complex geometric shapes using this method. Because two dies are required, tooling costs are high and time-consuming.
Additionally, because the surface of the die comes into contact with both sides of the metal sheet, post-production costs are high.
In stark contrast to this dated technology, FluidForming’s unique system works well not only on highly complex shapes but the surface quality of the components is far superior to those achieved with conventional die stamping. With FluidForming, pre-treated, pre-finished, brushed, or ground metal sheets can be deformed without damaging the surface of the metal.
Benefits of FluidForming
The implications of FluidForming are profound and the advantages of FluidForming are considerable. This new alternative to legacy metalworking reduces tooling costs by 50%, promotes incredibly fast ideation to production turnarounds, and minimizes many post-production operations when compared to legacy technologies, which results in additional cost saving.
FluidForming was invented to fill the market gap for a higher quality, more accurate, faster, intrinsically repeatable, and affordable metal forming process. Flexible component designs offer endless possibilities for designers and engineers. If you’re looking for a highly accurate production process, our system offers enhanced design flexibility, reduces capital costs, minimizes time to market, and offers easy product branding.