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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236 – 244

Developments in hydroforming
S.H. Zhang *,1
Department of Production, Aalborg Uni6ersity Fibigerstraede 16, DK-9220 Aalborg, Denmark

Received 3 March 1998


A brief review of recent developments in the hydroforming processes is presented. The process variations used for forming
tubular and flat components, the integral hydrobulge forming of shell products and the newly developed viscous pressure forming
process are outlined and their characteristics and applications are summarized, especially in respect of applications of the
processes in the automotive industries. © 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Hydroforming; Hydraulic forming; Soft-tool forming; Hydrobulging; Tube; Sheet metal; Hydromechanical deep-drawing; Integral
hydrobulge forming; Viscous pressure forming; Computer simulation

1. Introduction and its applications in the automotive industries. Some

organizations have published special journals/reports to
Hydroforming or hydraulic forming has been one of introduce the new developments of this technology and
the fundamental sheet metal forming processes for quite its applications in the automotive industries, whilst
a long time, having been developed at least since pre- some metal forming manufacturers and research institu-
World War II. Its applications in the German aircraft tions have organized consortiums to develop this tech-
industry were still restrained in some specific fields nology. Almost every leading automotive maker in the
because of particular drawbacks and relatively less re- world has adopted hydroforming technologies as the
search and practical experience, but since 1990s it has means to strengthen their competitive power in the
been attracting increasingly more attention in many market. A hydroforming design manual has recently
industrial fields, especially in the automotive industries. been published by Schäfer Hydroforming Corporation,
In this paper, an attempt has been made to establish Germany [2]. Most of the commercial finite-element
relationships amongst most sheet metal forming pro- codes have taken it as a main function of the codes
cesses aided with fluid pressure in order to relate and simulating this process. This review is intended to out-
understand the various developments in this field. line the latest developments of the hydroforming pro-
Many works have been published in recent years, and cess and to introduce the main process variations,
even a series of seminars has been organized in the discuss the research situation and summarize the appli-
USA [1]. Since 1996 many world famous hydroforming cations of the processes. This review is also an attempt
to share knowledge, ideas and literature with other
scientists reported their recent achievements in this field
researchers and industrial engineers who are trying to
to researchers and industrial engineers. A hydroforming
develop this technology.
congress was also held in Bolhum, Germany in Novem-
ber 1997, where industrialists and researchers gathered
together to share their knowledge about the process
2. Variations of hydroforming and its characteristics

* Tel.: +86-451-6415620; fax: +86-451-6221048. Hydroforming is a kind of soft-tool forming technol-

E-mail address: Zhangsh@hrbsti.com (S.H. Zhang)
Present address: Division of Metal Forming, School of Material
ogy. Soft-tool forming technologies include: (a) rubber-
Science and Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin pad forming technology; and (b) fluid-tool forming.
150001, People’s Republic of China. Fluid-tool forming includes: (a) gas forming, e.g. super-

0924-0136/99/$ - see front matter © 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 9 2 4 - 0 1 3 6 ( 9 8 ) 0 0 4 2 3 - 3
S.H. Zhang / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236–244 237

plastic bulging of sheet metals; and (b) hydroforming.

In hydroforming, oil, water or other fluid mediums are
used as the punch or the die. Hydroforming has a
variety of names: hydraulic forming, hydroforming
deep drawing, flexible forming, hydrobulging, high-
pressure forming (IHV), low-pressure forming, and hy-
dromechanical deep drawing; in which hydroforming
can be used for every situation when fluid pressure is
used in the process as an aid; whilst others are usually
referred to as a certain specific hydraulic-forming pro-
cess variation or a process aided with a fluid,
Hydroforming can be classified as the following pro-
cesses according to its process features: Fig. 2. The hydroforming of a tubular component [1].
1. Flat sheet hydroforming (or hydroforming deep
drawing, see Fig. 1, which is also referred to as forced to assume the internal shape of the split die.
hydroform); in which process a rubber diaphragm is In this technology, the hydrobulging pressure is
used to separate the fluid and the blank, the female comparatively higher than in other hydroforming
die is dispensed with, a rigid punch moves down processes, the process therefore being classified as:
into the fluid chamber and the blank is forced to (a) low-pressure forming, where the internal pres-
assume the shape of the punch under the pressure of sure is generally smaller than a maximum of 80–100
the fluid. Cups, boxes or complex-shaped flat sheet MPa and the wall thinning is generally less than 5%;
metal products can be formed using this technology. and (b) high-pressure forming, where the internal
This technology has been used in the automotive pressure generally reaches a maximum of 690 MPa
industries to produce large size auto body parts and (it has been reported as up to 1380 MPa), the seal
it is especially suitable for forming sheet metal parts technology being critical in high-pressure forming.
of prototypes and small scale series production [3]. Tube hydroforming is in fact a soft-punch forming
This technology is also referred to as flexible form- technology and has been dealt with in the following
ing (or Flexforming), it is in fact a soft-die forming papers [1,2,14–30].
technology and has been depicted in many publica- 3. Hydromechanical deep drawing process (see Fig. 3);
tions [3–13,41]. in which process, the rubber diaphragm is dispensed
2. Tube hydroforming or hydrobulging of tubular
with when deep drawing a cup or a hollow shell
components (see Fig. 2); in which technology the
product, the productivity can be significantly in-
punch is dispensed with, a fluid medium is taken as
creased and the limit drawing ratio (LDR) can also
the punch (a soft punch) and the tube is hydrob-
ulged into the desired shape through simultaneous
application of a compressive axial force and an
internal pressure. The tubular workpiece is finally

Fig. 3. The hydromechanical deep drawing process: (a) hydrostatic

Fig. 1. The hydroforming of a cylindrical cup (flat sheet hydroform- hydromechanical deep drawing; (b) hydrodynamic hydromechanical
ing). deep drawing.
238 S.H. Zhang / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236–244

be increased, this technology sometimes being re- formed parts can replace some stamped assemblies
ferred to as hydroforming. The technology is also a because of many advantages, including that the
soft-die forming technology, although a local die number of parts in an automobile can be reduced by
may be useful for the forming of some specific not using welded stamping parts or welding. A
products. The process has been introduced in ref lesser number of parts reduce the weight of the
[31] and therefore will not be discussed in detail in vehicle and the tooling costs. The process has the
this paper. ability to shape dissimilar tailor-welded materials.
4. New variations of hydroforming; the most promi- Engineered scrap is reduced, and holes can be
nent new variations including the integral hydro- pierced whilst the workpiece is still in the die.
bulge forming (IHBF) of sheet shell products and Hydroforming can be used for the production of
viscous pressure forming (VPF) processes. The automotive deep-drawn parts, which makes small-scale
IHBF technology has been developed over the last production profitable. It is an unbeatable process for
decade. Spherical vessels, oblate spheroidal shells the production of prototype parts. The rigid tool half
and pressure vessel heads can be formed integrally can be made form inexpensive materials. Parts made
aided with fluid pressure [32 – 35], the dies and the form blanks of different thickness and materials can be
punches usually being dispensed with. It is in fact a produced using the same tools. In flat sheet hydroform-
free-hydrobulging process, the fluid functioning as ing (fluid cell process), several parts can be formed in
the punch, and the female die being unnecessary. the same press cycle. Draw clearance between tools is
Liquid mediums are most often used, and even unnecessary.
explosive forming techniques have been used. This Most metal materials formed with conventional
technology is suitable for the forming of some spe- methods can be hydroformed. The materials require
cial-shaped and specific-structured spherical and sufficient elongation properties to allow bending,
spheroidal shell products. bulging or stretching without failure. Aluminum, vari-
VPF technology is a new hydroforming process ous copper allows, carbon steel and stainless steel have
that uses a viscous fluid medium as the soft die, and been hydroformed. Hydroformed parts are required to
in which the pressure can be varied along the sheet– have no sharp radii.
medium interface. This technology is intended to Hydroforming technology also has some disadvan-
form difficult-to-form materials and is under present tages (drawbacks or limitations): (a) relatively slow
research [38–40]. cycle times; (b) the need for highly polished dies; (c) the
Hydroforming technology is mostly used to produce low production-rate limits the process to low volume
tubular components and complex-shaped sheet metal parts; and (d) the need for a comparatively heavier
parts (flat parts) and hydroformed products have been press to overcome the back-up hydrostatic pressure
used in automotive, aircraft, bicycle and household acting against the punch over a relatively large pro-
applications. The recent developments of hydroforming jected area. Hydroforming equipment generally costs
technology in these respects are mainly activated by the up to 30% more than stamping tools. One of the
automotive industry. hurdles in the development of this technology is seal life
Hydroforming technology has the following charac- and the need for more standardized, off-the-shelf equip-
teristics or advantages: ment for higher volumes. Furthermore, hydroforming
1. It requires only one rigid tool half and the die or the dies cannot be changed as quickly as can stamping dies.
punch can be dispensed with (or replaced by fluid
mediums), therefore it can reduce tooling, part and
labor costs. 3. Tube hydroforming
2. It can improve the quality of the products and
significantly improve product performance, and hy- Tubular components can be hydrobulged or hydro-
droformed parts are lighter, cheaper, stronger, formed from tubular blanks with internal pressure and
stiffer and of high quality, and use materials more simultaneous axial loading. This process has been de-
efficiently, particularly when high-strength steel is veloped mainly to form bicycle components over many
used [17]. Compared with stamped parts, hydro- years, but recently has been developed further for the
forming is better both in respect of both tolerances forming of automotive components in order to form
and repeatability, the dimensional accuracy is much products of good quality, and to reduce the number of
better, the formed material look better and it has parts and thus the weight of automobiles. Presses and
less springback as it is released from the die, and pressurizing systems are necessary for this process.
residual stresses are significantly lower. In the forming process, a tubular blank is precut and
3. The hydroformed parts can be very complex. This then performed, mostly by bending and usually at
technology can make shapes that cannot be made multiple locations, into a proper shape such that it can
by conventional manufacturing methods. Hydro- be inserted into an axially- or radially-split die. Then
S.H. Zhang / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236–244 239

Fig. 4(c)), the tube being hydroformed into a cranked

One of the advantages of this process is that the
punch is dispensed with; other advantages being that
the tubular products may have very complex shapes,
tube hydroforming can contribute to an overall struc-
tural integrity, the weight and the number of tubular
components in an assembly can be reduced, and weld
seams and connection flanges can be shortened and
even neglected. The following features need to be
noted: (1) tubes with changing diameters; (2) stepped
tubes; (3) tubes with square or complexed cross-sec-
tions; (4) tubes with cross-sectional shapes that can
vary continuously throughout the length of the part;
and (5) tubes with branches (such as T joints and ball
joints) can all be formed by the process.
As discussed previously, this process can be divided
into low-pressure forming and high-pressure forming, a
useful variation being that two-stage pressurization can
be performed, i.e. pressure-sequence forming
[14,17,20,21]. A successful forming operation needs pre-
cise control of die closing/die surface design, end seal-
ing, internal pressure, axial loading (blank filling) and
Fig. 4. Tube hydroforming: (a) opened-tool system; (b) closed tool cycle time. The maximum pressure can reach 100 MPa
system; (c) displacement (a cranked workpiece); (d) calibration; (e) for low-pressure forming; the smallest local radius can
local expansion (a tube branch) [1,16]. reach r= 10t; a local profile is hard to form; and an
inside corner radius of less than four or five times the
the die closes, crushing the tube, and the blank is sealed wall thickness is difficult to form and will need very
at each end. Finally, hydraulic liquid fills the tube and high internal pressure. There is no axial movement at
hydraulic pressure is applied inside the tube whilst the blank ends that are usually used for a low-pressure
simultaneous axial loading is applied at the ends of the forming system and the circumference expansion is
tube, pushing it into the die. The tube wall is thus B 5%; whilst for high-pressure forming the maximum
pressed into the internal contour of the die and the part pressure can reach 690 MPa, the smallest local radius
is formed. can reach r= 3t, and local stretching can take place.
The hydrobulging procedure involves: (a) the inser- Expansion ratios of up to 85% have been attained. The
tion of a precut/preformed blank; (b) the sealing of the high pressure is achieved by means of pressure inten-
blank at each end; (c) the pressurization and radial sifiers. In pressure-sequence forming, tube forming is
loading; and (d) the rejection of the workpiece. carried out in two stages, low pressure being used for
In addition to using the traditional liquid hydroform- the first stage where the tube is forced to flow into the
ing during operation (it is referred to as natural hydro- corner without stretching or expanding to fill the die
forming in this case), low-melting-point alloys or liquid cavity, mostly driven by mechanical loading; high pres-
solutions may be used as the fluid medium, the addition sure (much smaller than in high-pressure forming) be-
ing imposed in the second stage as the die approaches
of rust-resisting additives being preferred in the pressur-
the final closed position. The radius is formed by a
ized fluids. Opened tools (Fig. 4(a)) and closed tools
bending mode rather than the tensile mode of high-
(Fig. 4(b)) can be used in tube hydroforming. In opened
pressure forming, tube expansion being due to axial end
tools, the split die is not closed initially, the two end feed.
punches (rams) are omitted, and material feeding is The high-pressure forming process can even be used
performed by tool movement. In a closed-tool system, to form sandwich tubular components [14]. Two tubes
the split dies are closed, and material feeding is per- of different materials are fitted into each other and then
formed by the movement of the two punch ends. are hydroformed simultaneously. It is even possible to
In tube hydroforming, three deformation modes are include an intermediate layer of e.g. ceramics for heat
often used: (a) expansion (Fig. 4(a), (b), and (e),) when or cold isolation or for the prevention of sound and the
the tube has a straight central line; (b) calibration (see oscillation of vibration transmission.
Fig. 4(d)), when the tube is pre-bent into a circular All metallic materials used for cold forming are
shape with a bent central line, the deformation in suited for this process, materials with low strength and
hydroforming being minor; and (c) displacement (see high extension being recommended.
240 S.H. Zhang / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236–244

There are mainly four types of failure mode: (a) 1.5 million pieces in one company. It is reported that
buckling, the blank crushing down because of buckling, the largest hydroformed parts in automotive use are
which latter is usually caused by excessive axial loading, frame rails used in truck frames (GM), 15 feet (4.57 m)
or excessive extra axial compressive deformation; (b) long and 75 pounds (34 kg) each with 2 mm thick walls.
wrinkling, where part of the tube blank may be wrin- The total cycle time for a pair of rails is about 200 s in
kled because of excessive axial loading or insufficient the production line, which can be shortened to 120 s if
internal pressure, especially in the intake region of the necessary. Bicycle frame parts and elbows are the parts
expansion tools; (c) bursting, the thickness of the tube that are most frequently hydroformed, except for those
blank being smaller than needed or the axial loading parts formed for automotive used. The automotive
being insufficient; and (d) folding back, which occurs tubular components formed by this technology can fall
when tubes are expanded in dies where tube wall mate- into the following categories: (a) fittings; (b) engine
rial is forced into the die from tube holders, or in areas parts and transmission components; (c) exhaust system
of heavily-expanded thin tubes. Folds can occur in components; (d) chassis components; (e) auto body and
cases with excessively high axial force. (f) others. Some of the automotive tubular components
Regarding the loading functions, the internal fluid produced with the hydroforming process are cited here:
pressure acts as the bulging pressure, which is necessary engine cradles, frames, car engine cradle arms; alu-
to press the tube blank into the internal surface of the minum axle supports for an automobile; suspension
die whilst, the bulging pressure should be sufficient to components; exhaust manifolds; air-intake systems;
form the local shape of the workpiece. A press ram is complete frame systems; front and rear axle assemblies;
used in axial loading, which latter is necessary to pre- gear shafts, drive shafts, camshafts, gas tank filler
vent wall thinning. Above all, the internal pressure and tubes; shock absorbers; dashboard supports and dash-
the axial loading are the two key parameters of the board cross members. Other hydroformed tubular parts
process, and they must be applied with proper values are motorcycle and bicycle frame parts and handlers;
and must match each other, and improper ratio of and elbows.
internal pressure and axial loading usually causing the
failure of the process, e.g. buckling, wrinkling or rup-
ture [43]. Apart from this, the causes of defects in tube 4. Flat sheet hydroforming
hydrobulging processes may be the following [18]: (a)
an uneven application of axial load at the ends; (b) fluid Using hydroforming technology, cups and boxes can
entrapment between the die face and the blank; (c) an be drawn as in a conventional deep-drawing process.
improper die corner radius; and (d) lack of precise Flat sheet metal parts such as auto body parts can also
alignment between the die/blank and the punch (ram). be hydroformed using a similar system, the fluid pres-
The internal pressure, axial loads and clamping force sure acting as the female die with a diaphragm being
are related to the geometries of the tools and the used to separate the fluid and the blank, where the rigid
properties of the blank materials. The minimum corner punch descends upon the blank and forces it to deform
radius can determine the final maximum internal pres- into the fluid chamber, the fluid pressure being con-
sure. These radii can be estimated in most cases and trolled by a pump or a valve according to a specific
they can also be calculated in simple straight tube loading curve, the blank then being forced to take the
hydrobulging [16]. shape of the punch by the fluid pressure.
In most cases, a prefill pressure is maintained inside This process has the following advantages: (a) the
the tube during die closure. Punches may be mounted fluid exerts a resistive load on the blank via the thin
in the forming die to pierce holes in the tube during the elastic diaphragm, which makes it possible to eliminate
forming process. As the tube expands, the ends are the blank-holder in most cases; (b) versatile deep-draw-
drawn inwards along the longitudinal axis. ing configurations can be made by changing only the
Tube hydroforming is especially suitable for use in punch contour; and (c) the unsupported portion of the
the auto industries, where existing multipiece, stamped/ blank is deformed by the fluid pressure so that failure
welded assemblies in auto bodies and chassis frame by puckering can be reduced easily.
structures can potentially be replaced with less expen- This process may fail because of two failure modes:
sive hydroformed parts. For example, a tube can be wrinkling and rupture. The fluid pressure is a dominant
hydroformed into a gear shaft after the machining of parameter in determining the success or failure of the
the gears on the hydroformed parts. Camshafts are process. Insufficient pressure may cause premature
reported to be hydroformed in Mercedes where 500 wrinkling, whereas excessive pressure may lead to pre-
hydroformed cams are expected to be produced per day mature tearing. The proper fluid-pressure path is deter-
by late 1999, the cycle time being 20 s per shaft. The mined, mostly by trial-and-error experiments and some
annual rate of some hydroformed products such as calculations, but in the future it can be expected to be
engine cradles and exhaust manifolds has been up to determined by computer simulations [12].
S.H. Zhang / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236–244 241

When hydroforming flat parts, the rigid tool half is been rolled-bent into circular shapes in one direction
usually made from inexpensive materials such as plas- before fabrication; the other direction being a straight
tics (e.g. epoxy resin) and low-melting alloys (e.g.: a line. These shells need some blank preparation, mainly
zinc alloy Kirksite). Several parts are allowed to be roll-bending. Blank cutting is simple because the blanks
formed in the same press cycle. Hydroforming can can be easily unfurled on a plane and traditional roll-
therefore reduce the tool costs and the production bending machines can be used. Flat-blank polyhedral
cycle: tool costs can be reduced by 75% and the lead shells are usually used to form small- and medium-sized
time can be reduced to 60%. Many world-leading car- spherical shells, which may be used as building decora-
makers have utilized hydroforming production. tion arts; whilst single-curvature shells are usually used
Hydroforming has been used to form various shaped as large-size spherical tanks such as water towers, liquid
parts, complex-shaped sheet parts with small produc- petroleum gas (LPG) tanks and water towers. The
tion lots being most suited, especially for prototype choice of the shell structure usually depends upon the
parts. Some parts such as longitudinally curved boxes user.
with a regular polygonal cross-section are hydro- IHBF technology can be used for manufacturing
formed, these being very different to form using the spherical shells, spheroidal shells, and also double-layer
traditional deep-drawing process [8]. It is reported that or multi-layer spherical shells. IHBF technology has
the following flat parts have been hydroformed: auto also been extended to form pressure vessel heads in
body structural components, auto body panels, truck pairs [35], two flat circular blanks being joined together
body part; aerospace components; rear fender and an by welding to a ring set between them, which ring has
excavator door; fuel tanks; and gas cylinders. Other a strong stiffness and can be taken as rigid or fixed, the
hydroformed products are heavy-equipment roll-over interspace being filled with fluid and pressurizing being
protective structures, food and beverage equipment carried out to bulge the two flat blanks into shells with
components; cooker cavities; and washing machine elliptical cross-sections. Pressure vessel heads may thus
drums. be formed in pairs.
The materials may be plain carbon steel, stainless
steel and some other non-ferrous metal sheets. The
5. Some other new variations of hydroforming materials are usually required to have good elongation
quantities, sufficient plastic deformation capacity and
The IHBF technology of spherical shells was pro- good welding properties.
posed in 1985 [32]. This new technology dispenses with The pressure medium can be anything in liquid or
multiple die sets and presses when forming spherical or fluid form. Water and oil are preferred and often used.
spheroidal metal parts. First, metal plates are cut into The pressure pump can be an electrical pressure pump
pre-designed shapes, then the blanks are fabricated and (usually for large-size shells) or a hand-operated pump
welded into a closed polyhedral shell according to (for small-size shells).
particular patterns, then the shell is filled with a fluid The advantages using IHBF technology are: (a) dies
medium and finally the shell is hydraulically bulged into and large-capacity presses are dispensed with: (b) the
a pre-designed spherical or spherpoidal shell. Dozens of product dimensions can be varied easily; (c) the thick-
products made using this technology, such as spherical ness is uniformly distributed; and (d) the residual
steel water towers, water tanks of 50 to 900 m3 volume, stresses are reduced significantly; therefore the produc-
and oblate spheroidal steel building structures of up to tion costs can be reduced significantly, all of which
6 m major diameters, have been put into use and this have expanded the applications of spherical and
new technology has been proven cost-effective, promis- spheroidal structures.
ing and competitive. The VPF process is a new soft-tool process to form
Regarding structures, prior to hydroforming the sheet metal parts, developed recently by Liu, Westhoff,
polyhedral shells include flat-blank shells and single- Ahmetoglu and Altan [38–40]. VPF is intended to be
curvature shells. Flat-blank polyhedral shells can be: used to form difficult-to-form materials in small quanti-
32-petal shell (looking like a football) with 12 pentago- ties, such as aluminum alloys, high-strength low-alloy
nal blanks and 20 hexagonal blanks; 14-petal shells (HSLA) steel, titanium alloys, composite materials and
with eight hexagonal blanks and six square blanks; and laminated sheets. VPF is similar to flat sheet hydro-
frustum shells with many different trapezoidal blanks; forming, using single-sided hard tooling and a flexible
welded together. These shells are fabricated easily and pressure medium. Its main difference from natural flat
the blanks can be welded together after precise cutting sheet hydroforming is that VPF uses a viscous medium
without preparation, as is the case with rolling, al- that is strain-rate sensitive in place of a fluid, the
though sometimes bending is preferred to reduce the pressure being able to be varied along the sheet–
number of weld seams. Single-curvature shells are re- medium interface to form the metal in a preferred
ferred to as shells where most of the lateral blanks have manner (Figs. 5 and 6) due to the viscosity of the
242 S.H. Zhang / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236–244

the viscous medium, especially its viscosity, has a great

effect on the process, and that the sheet can be
stretched more uniformly when the viscous medium is
introduced on both sides of the sheet.
Fu et al. [42] reported their new flexible-die forming
(FDF) process using a special viscous–plastic carrying
medium (VPCM), which process seems similar to hy-
dormechanical deep drawing with a local die from the
structure, whilst it is also similar to VPF for the flexible
medium [see Fig. 6]. The viscous–plastic carrying
medium has not been dealt with in detail. Some high-
precision hemispherical workpieces have been produced
using this technology.
Some other fluid-assisted processes have been devel-
oped also in recent years, one of these processes being
Fig. 5. Viscous pressure forming of a flat sheet blank: (a) during hydrostatic ironing [36], whilst another is the HBU
forming; (b) final forming stage [38,39]. process (high-pressure sheet metal forming), which is a
modified deep-drawing process assisted with fluid pres-
medium. The viscous material is pulled slowly when it sure to form flat sheet metal parts in pairs with high-
stretches. This medium is sometimes put on both sides fluid pressure [37].
of the blank, being pumped under pressure into the
cavity on one side of the blank and released under
control through a single or multiple ports from the 6. Computer simulations
other side: pressure differentials are thus developed in
the viscous medium. It is believed that the properties of Computer simulation by the finite-element method
has been one of the powerful means by which to
research hydroforming processes [27]. Finite-element
simulations can predict possible process defects such as
wrinkling and rupture. When developing a new process
or designing a process system, it is helpful to first
simulate the process properly and try different process
parameters and schemes, and in this way a proper
structure design and proper process parameters may be
determined prior to physical try-outs, and necessary
technical measures taken, the production costs and time
consumption possibly being reduced. Trial-and-error
methods can be significantly minimized, and the num-
ber of physical experiments can also be reduced. It is
noted that increasingly more people have been using
explicit finite-element methods recently instead of the
implicit finite-element methods that were often used in
the 1980s. Commercial FE codes such as DYNA3D
and ABAQUS/explicit are the most often used explicit
FE codes.
One example is the simulation of the hydroforming
of a complex tubular part (an engine cradle [19,20]) by
the explicit element code DYNA3D with five consecu-
tive runs, the process simulated including pre-bending,
die closing and pressurization. Another example using
the DYNA3D analyzing hydroforming process is a
flanging operation aided with a fluid cell [13], in which
the fluid pressure is transferred through some layers of
rubber membrane to the workpiece. The rubber plays
the role of the die, forcing the blank to conform to the
contour of the punch and thus flanging is performed.
Fig. 6. A workpiece formed with flexible-die forming process [42]. The wrinkles on the flange were predicted successfully.
S.H. Zhang / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 91 (1999) 236–244 243

The explicit finite-element method has also been used in try, the Danish Natural Science Foundation and the
the simulation of IHBF technologies [34], the numerical Danish Technical Research Council.
results being in good agreement with the results of
experiments and providing a lot of details in describing
some process phenomena. References
A FE formulation was developed by Dawson et al.
[9] to consider the crystallographic texture effects in the [1] Conference Report: Hydroforming technology, Adv. Mater. Pro-
hydroforming process of aluminum sheet: tearing can cess. 151 (5) (1997) 50 – 53.
[2] Impression, 7th ed., 1996, 8th ed., 1997, SMG, Germany.
be predicted. Berg et al. [25] introduced a new formula- [3] T.G. Johannisson, Flexforming — high-pressure sheet metal
tion used for shell elements of the bending stiffness forming, ABB Rev. 5 (1990) 25 – 30.
using the explicit time-integration method, which is [4] T.G. Johannisson, Flexforming — high-pressure sheet metal
used in a FE code especially designed for the hydro- forming, ABB Rev. 6 (1989) 3 – 10.
forming process: bending stiffness is considered. Snap- [5] S. Yossifon, J. Tirosh, Rupture instability in hydroforming
deep-drawing process, Int. J. Mech. Sci. 27 (1985) 559–570.
through may occur in a hydroforming process if the [6] S. Yossifon, J. Tirosh, The maximum drawing ration in hydro-
cross-section of the tube is not over-convex. These forming processes, J. Eng. Ind. Trans. ASME 112 (1990) 47–56.
authors modeled an Audi body part using this formula- [7] M.M. Dehghani, W. Jiang, J. Rasty, An investigation of hydro-
tion FE code, snap-through being predicted. forming of sheet metals with varying blankholding loads, Com-
The code DEFORM has been used to simulate the putional Methods in Processing, Winter Annual meeting of
ASME, Anaheim, California, (8 – 13, Nov. 1992) MD-Vol.39/
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