FluidForming Americas’ technology integrates 3D printed tooling to enable rapid prototyping
HARTSVILLE, Tenn.—A precision hydroforming machine from FluidForming Americas (FFA) that uses highly pressurized water to form parts is reported to work seamlessly with 3D printed tooling, while offering a combination of four technologies in a single machine. The FluidForming technology, known as the FormBalancer, uses water pressures of up to 60,000 psi to form metal parts and components for industries such as aerospace, automotive, and consumer appliances, the company said in a press release.
Because it works with 3D printed tooling, the FormBalancer can save manufacturers significant tooling costs per part and reduce a product’s time to market, according to FluidForming Americas. The machine offers users the flexibility of choosing among four metal forming options: sheet metal forming, tube forming, bladder-based hydroforming, and hydraulic press forming.
The FormBalancer is a closed hydraulic system that uses pressurized, recycled tap water, instead of costly hydraulic oil, to form parts. Because the forming fluid comes in direct contact with just one side of the sheet metal surface, it leaves no tooling marks, according to FFA. The machine is said to produce a 99.996 percent success rate for first pass yields.
FluidForming Americas President and CEO Paul Benny believes that as a hydroforming company that fully embraces additive manufacturing and 3D printing, FFA is well-positioned for the future. The 4-in-1 machine technology is well-suited for rapid prototyping and low- to medium volume production, and also has the ability to mass produce.
“Complexity is free with 3D printing,” said Benny, in a statement. “Not so with injection molding, machining, casting, and other traditional manufacturing processes, where complex part designs make production costs skyrocket.”
Benny added that he believes FluidForming is poised to become the go-to solution for metal forming.
“As the only Six Sigma metal forming process available, the implications of FluidForming on the future of the manufacturing industry are wide-ranging and profound,” he said. “Ideas that were once deemed too costly, or impossible, to be formed from metal can be produced and perfected in a matter of days.”
FluidForming Americas (www.ffamericas.com) was founded in Germany in 2000 and established in the United States in 2014. The company services clients that are reported to include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Miele, and Sub-zero.