Computer aided optimization of tube hydroforming processes
Ray, Pinaki (2005) Computer aided optimization of tube hydroforming processes. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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Tube hydroforming is a process of forming closed-section, hollow parts with different cross sections by applying combined internal hydraulic forming pressure and end axial compressive loads or feeds to force a tubular blank to conform to the shape of a given die cavity. It is one of the most advanced metal forming processes and is ideal for producing seamless, lightweight, near net shape components.. This innovative manufacturing process offers several advantages over conventional manufacturing processes such as part consolidation, weight reduction and lower tooling and process cost. To increase the implementation of this technology in different manufacturing industries, dramatic improvements for hydroformed part design and process development are imperative. The current design and development of tube hydroforming processes is plagued with long design and prototyping lead times of the component.
The formability of hydroformed tubular parts is affected by various physical parameters such as material properties, tube and die geometry, boundary conditions and process loading paths. Finite element simulation is perceived by the industry to be a cost-effective process analysis tool and has the capability to provide a greater insight into the deformation mechanisms of the process and hence allow for greater product and process optimization. Recent advances in the non-linear metal forming simulation capabilities of finite element software have made simulation of many complex hydroforming processes much easier. Although finite element based simulation provides a better understanding of the process, trial-and-error based simulation and optimization becomes very costly for complex processes. Thus, powerful intelligent optimization methods are required for better design and understanding of the process.
This work develops a better understanding of the forming process and its control parameters. An experimental study of ‘X ’ and ‘T’-branch type tube hydroforming was undertaken and finite element models of these forming processes were built and subsequently validated against the experimental results. Furthermore these forming processes were optimized using finite element simulations enhanced with numerical optimization algorithms and with an adaptive process control algorithm. These new tools enable fast and effective determination of loading paths optimized for successful hydroforming of complex tubular parts and replace trial-and-error approaches by a more efficient customized finite element analysis approach.
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