Prototype and Low-Volume Fabrication of Automotive Sheet Metal Parts Applying Flexforming 890507
Flexforming is a new, emerging technique in the automotive industry for the forming and trimming of sheet metal parts for prototype and low-volume production.
Forming of parts to final shape requires only one solid tool half. The other half is a “flexible die” consisting of a rubber diaphragm backed up by high-pressure fluid. When oil is pumped into the void behind the diaphragm and pressure is increased, the diaphragm expands over the press table and forces the blank to assume the shape of the solid tool half. After forming, pressure is released; and the diaphragm returns to its initial position.
Some examples of the benefits of applying Flexforming are:
The need to match tool halves is eliminated.
Alignment of tools in the press is eliminated.
Several different parts can be formed in one press cycle.
Metal blanks of various thicknesses can be formed in the same tool.
The same tool half is used even if a part requires several forming operations.
Less expensive tool materials can be used.
Parts can be trimmed in the forming cycle.
As a result of the above, lead times of prototype parts can be reduced to less than half of what is required with today's methods, allowing for considerable time reduction in car development programs. This, in combination with reductions in tool cost of up to 90 percent with maintained or improved part quality, makes Flexforming ideal for the forming of all pre-prototype and prototype metal parts as well as for low volume production such as specialty vehicles, heavy trucks, limousines, etc.