If you are browsing our site, you probably already know all about hydroforming, the process of using highly pressurized hydraulic fluid to mold metal onto a die. It’s an especially great way to make hollow metal parts, like tubes, that need to be shaped in a single step. Since hydroforming is often the only way to create certain complex or round shapes, it’s used to make everything from bicycles to saxophones. Here are a few of hydroforming’s most interesting uses!
Hydroforming is used to create bike frames that are stronger and sway less under pressure than traditionally-molded bike frames. Hydroformed bike frames also contain less material than non-hydroformed frames, and since they weigh less, riders can accelerate more quickly and easily. A hydroformed frame also minimizes vibrations to the seat-post, making a much more comfortable ride. When all’s said and done, hydroforming helps create a bike that accelerates faster, climbs hills easier, and rounds corners easier than others – qualities that make these bikes highly valued by cycling enthusiasts.
Since hydroforming is great for making lightweight, tubular shapes, it’s the preferred method for manufacturing brass instruments such as saxophones. A hydroformed saxophone is able to have a narrower bore, or the interior pathways through which the air travels. The narrower bore allows the player to have greater control over the instrument, resulting in a better sound. Both musicians and listeners benefit, and it’s all thanks to hydroforming!
Many at-home gunsmiths prefer to use hydroforming to make bullet cases, because it is a relatively quiet method that can be done in the garage without causing any alarm. The most common case-forming method, fire forming, shapes a metal cartridge case to fit a new chamber by firing it within that chamber—obviously, a method that could cause some alarm in a family neighborhood. Hydroforming is also used within the firearm manufacturing industry to make gun barrels, rifle scopes, and other precise, tubular parts.
Hydroforming is also used in the interior design and furniture industries, where it is used to create unique chairs and light fixtures. This hydroformed bench by designer Connor Holland, for example, was shaped with a pressure washer. Many sculptors and artists have also discovered the unique applications of hydroforming when it comes to creating large metal works. Sculptors Andrew Schrock, Stephen Newby, and Dave McKracken are all artists who have used this metalworking method to create “inflated” stainless steel sculptures. With a little creativity, hydroforming can be used to make anything!
We hope this article has helped you see some uses for hydroforming that you haven’t thought about yet—or even given you an idea for something new you’d like to use it for! If you’d like to purchase or rent hydroforming machinery in Apex, NC or the surrounding areas, give Active Machinery a call. With over 35 years in the fabrication, cutting, and folding industries, we have exactly what you need to get the job done—and the expertise to show you how to do it.