Warm Forming of High-Strength Aluminum Automotive Structural Parts: A Success Story
EWI Forming Center has been leading the Aluminum Warm Forming Project with 12 industry partners for the past two years. The project aims to develop advanced and practical warm forming technology for high-strength aluminum automotive structures.
In January 2018, the project team successfully implemented advanced and practical warm forming technology to produce high-strength and lightweight aluminum double doors at American Tooling Center in Grass Lake, Michigan. Warm forming technology enabled us to improve the quality of door inner parts with no defects such as wrinkling and necking compared to cold forming of same aluminum 6xxx alloy. With the production-like batch run of this new process, the cycle time of furnace heating, automated part transferring, and die stamping were found to be less than 90 seconds. There are more opportunities to further reduce cycle time of the warm forming like cold stamping by improving heating method and the automation program since the press time for each cycle is similar to the cold stamping. More importantly, this technology can be practically executed using a conventional furnace, part handling equipment and hydraulic press.
The project team conducted extensive work from characterizing of material properties and lubricant performance to tooling / process design using FEA through prototyping of industry example parts. In addition to the door inner parts, EWI Forming Center and industry partners successfully implemented the warm forming process to produce the sidebar crash parts with ultra-high-strength (UHS) 7xxx aluminum alloy at American Tooling Center in 2017. These prototype parts can bolster both confidence and knowledge of the industry partners on the manufacturing of aluminum warm formed structural parts for lightweighting of the next generation vehicles.
To learn more about the Aluminum Warm Forming Project and other EWI Forming Center projects, contact Technical Director Hyunok Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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