Recent Developments in Tube Hydroforming Technology
Tube hydroforming is a process for manufacturing highly rigid light-weight parts with complex cross sections by internal high-pressure and axial feeding or axial compressive loading. It offers some advantages when compared with the traditional manufacturing methods such as sheet stamping and welding, or casting. The essential advantages are: integration of parts, reduction in both component weight and manufacturing steps, high accuracy of shape and dimensions, etc.
Tube hydroforming was developed as an innovative technology in Japan over 40 years ago. Initially, it was available for manufacturing small and simple parts and has been used mainly in both the bicycle industries and the piping industries to manufacture fittings.
Recently, new computer technology offers advanced control technology in manufacturing large and complex parts, and also offers FE simulations as designing tools for manufacturing sound parts without failure, such as bursting, buckling or wrinkling. Tube hydroforming-refined by computer technology and increased in capacity-is widely regarded as a new technology for manufacturing light-weight parts.
To meet strong demands for saving fossil fuels and reducing CO2 emissions which cause global warming, automobile industries have recently adopted tube hydroforming technology to reduce the total weight of the cars and cost of production.
This paper reviews the recent developments of tube hydroforming and discusses the key points of this technology.