Economic Analysis of Hydro-Mechanical Sheet Metal Forming
Recent industry trends have resulted in growing interest among automakers in low to medium volume manufacturing. The expansion of automobile production into developing economies and the desire to produce specialized vehicles for niche markets have pressed the automakers to find cost effective solutions for manufacturing at low volumes, particularly with regard to sheet metal forming. Conventional high volume stamping operations rely heavily on achieving minimum scale economies which occur at about 200,000 parts per year. These scale economies are mainly dictated by the efficient use of the standard, expensive cast iron dies. These dies can cost well over one million dollars depending on the part, and in return offer tool lives over 5 million strokes. Die investment can be reduced by changing the stamping process technology. Hydro-mechanical forming has been proposed as a promising low volume alternative to conventional stamping.