- April 2002 - What does it take to build a car that can perform
like a racecar, or a truck that can take on anything?
In the highly
competitive world of automobile manufacturing, companies are always
searching for the latest technology to give them the upper hand.
One technology yielding significant improvements in performance
is hydroforming. An alternative to metal stamping, hydroforming
uses water to bend steel and is causing many automakers to reevaluate
the way they produce parts.
hydroforming process, where you inject a pressurized fluid into
the tube, integrates parts into a single part," says Jay
Baron of the Center for Automotive Research. "You have higher
dimensional integrity and that translates into a better quality
vehicle -- you will get better finish on the vehicle, that translates
into lower squeaks and rattles."
In the case
of the Chevrolet Corvette, General Motors replaced fourteen stamped
parts with one hydroformed part, streamlining the production process
and increasing the Corvette's body stiffness 450 percent.
can actually feel the improvement," says Charles Bruggeman
of General Motors. "The components are more integrated and
it gives you, in a frame application, a better ride and handling."
to added strength, hydroformed parts are typically lighter than
the parts they replace and can be produced with less waste --
benefits that appeal to environmentally conscience consumers and