Hydroforming Achieves Vehicle Weight and Cost Reduction Says Study

21st March 2012

Vari-Form, a developer of hydroforming technologies, has announced the results of an engineering study that it claims shows hydroforming achieves 11 percent piece cost reduction, 14 percent tooling cost reduction and 7.3 percent weight reduction compared to state-of-the-art stamping/welding processes.

Hydroforming is a specialized type of die forming and an alternative to traditional metal stamping.  Hydroforming uses a high pressure hydraulic fluid to press material into a die. It is often used in the high end sports car market where lightweight materials such as aluminum are more common.

“With escalating emphasis on improving fuel efficiency and safety, while controlling costs, automakers are constantly on the lookout for new technologies and processes to help achieve these goals,” said Dean Gericke, Engineering Manager.  “The hydroforming process is particularly applicable to manufacturing load bearing structural parts that need to withstand rigorous safety and durability testing without adding weight to the vehicle.  Many automakers from around the globe are beginning to recognize the benefits of the hydroforming process and incorporating more hydroformed parts into their vehicle designs.”

The Vari-Form Study analyzed hydroformed structural parts including front end, body side, and rear floor structures.  The structural integrity of each system was measured against an equivalent stamped system.

In a simulated EURO NCAP Off-set Front Barrier Crash test, the hydroformed parts achieved an equal rating to the stamped parts, but outperformed the stamped parts in several areas, including

  • 10.7 percent weight reduction,
  • piece cost reduction of 12 percent
  • tooling cost reduction of 31 percent.

In the FMVSS 216A Roof Crush analysis, the hydroformed parts outperformed the stamped parts while achieving a 6 percent weight reduction, 9 percent piece cost reduction and a 7 percent tooling cost reduction.

In the FMVSS 301 Rear Impact analysis, the hydroformed parts and stamped parts both achieved minimal door deformation and maintained good fuel system structure.  However, the hydroformed parts achieved 7.5 percent weight reduction, 11 percent piece cost reduction and 4 percent tooling cost reduction.

“Clearly, when hydroform structures compete against stamped parts, there are advantages that are realized, from manufacturing, assembly and throughout the vehicle life,” Gericke said.  “This study was implemented for us by a highly-regarded engineering services firm, and confirms our strategy that hydroforming will reduce vehicle weight, bring down part and tooling costs, and contribute to greater fuel efficiency. More important, the hydroformed parts perform well in terms of safety and, ultimately, that probably matters most to car and truck shoppers.”

A white paper explaining the weight and cost advantages of the hydroforming process can be found on the Vari-Form website – The Hydroform Advantage

Press Release issued by Vari-Form