What Is Tube Hydroforming?

At Intran, we’re excited to announce that we’ve added tube hydroforming to our list of services. This article explains tube hydroforming in more detail.

What Is Tube Hydroforming?

Tube hydroforming creates bellows frequently used in oil and gas, automotive, and aerospace applications. The end-product bellow tubes are flexible, thin walled yet strong, and able transport fluid or gas. Metal bellows are shaped through more than 400 KPA of fluid pressure and precision tooling. Using this high pressure fluid inside the tube, the process cycles until it reaches the correct bellow.

tube hydroforming

Just how thin or thick a bellow wall is depends on how it will be used. Hydroforming is one of the best methods for ensuring consistent wall thickness and dimensional tolerances, which are imperative in mechanical applications. For instance, some bellows must fit in tight corners within an engine and withstand fluctuations in pressure, vibration, and temperature while the fluid moves through.

How Does A Tube Hydroforming Machine Work?

Bellows can be created from seamless or welded tubing. The metals that are most frequently used in hydroforming are stainless steel, aluminum, Inconel, and copper base alloys.

First, a straight tube is inserted into the hydroforming machine. Inside the machine is a negative mold that’s shaped to the client’s specs. Next, hydraulic fluid is pumped at an extremely high pressure inside the tube, forcing the metal to evenly form to the mold. The fluid repeats its cycle until the bellow reaches the intended shape and thickness.

The Benefits Of Tube Hydroforming

Tube hydroforming brings a lot of benefits to the table such as:

  • Affordability. Tooling costs are often less, there’s less raw material waste, and there are fewer secondary operations necessary to complete the piece.
  • Lightweight. This manufacturing method can consolidate some parts and tailor the wall thickness. This can result in a lighter weight end product.
  • Precise and unique designs. Hydroforming makes it possible to create tubes that bend for a unique fit. It also reduces dimensional variations for improved consistency.
  • Reduced stress on other parts. Tubing with bellows can absorb some of the vibrations and other stressors that may otherwise affect mating parts.

At Intran, we are pleased to offer hydroforming as another manufacturing service. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our new tube hydroforming service.

Note: At Intran, we’re excited to have added tube hydroforming with bellows/corrugates to our extensive list of services. We hope to add other hydroforming options in the near future but at the present can only offer tube hydroforming with bellows/corrugates.

January 14, 2019 Tagged: