To accommodate difficult-to-form materials, higher tonnage, higher energy and lower speeds, are the main requirements. Article by AIDA Engineering.
There is a global ambition to reduce carbon emissions. As more and more countries enact ever-stricter emission standards, the usage of new materials such as aluminium and high tensile strength steels has increased. Because of concerns about aggravating global warming, emission standards for automobiles have become even more stringent throughout the world.
For example, the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards raise mileage standards incrementally, and auto manufacturers around the world are trying to find ways to improve fuel efficiency. One key to better fuel efficiency is a lighter vehicle.
The expectation is not only to achieve lighter vehicles and better passenger safety, but also to produce a sleeker design. Composites reinforced with carbon fibre have made some inroads with automakers because of the high strength-to-weight ratio and stiffness-to-weight ratio. Ford’s F-150 truck shed close to 15 percent of its vehicle weight, about 700 lb, by replacing conventional steel parts with high-strength, military-grade aluminium.
There is a growing need in automotive-related industries for new high-quality and high-efficiency forming technologies. New forming machinery is required for difficult-to-form materials, like advanced high-strength steels, and non-ferrous materials, like aluminium. With higher fuel economy driving the transition to lighter-weight vehicles throughout the world, automotive manufacturers are increasingly using high-strength steel and aluminium in order to achieve the material strength required to assure vehicle collision safety performance.
Difficult-to-form materials require a great deal of force for forming and, after forming, can have significant internal stresses that can lead to springback and cracks. They can also easily damage the forming dies. For instance, advanced high-strength steels (AHSS)—dual-phase grades with tensile strength up to 1,200 MPa, transformation-inducted plasticity, martensitic and twinning-induced plasticity steels—are more difficult to form than mild steels, and thus, product cracking issues can occur when formed using conventional mechanical presses. As for aluminium materials, they have limited elongation properties, which makes it difficult to form complex shapes. In addition, because aluminium is not magnetic, it cannot be conveyed using conventional magnetic transfer systems.
At the same time, appealing body designs with complex curved surfaces are also being pursued in order to enhance consumer appeal, and as a result, the forming processes themselves have become more difficult. These kinds of problems are difficult to resolve using conventional technologies.
Press forming system provider AIDA is leveraging its independently developed servo technologies to provide solutions to these complex forming issues. AIDA servo presses are powered by servo motors that enable the precise control of the press slide motion, including the forming speed. The innovative servo technologies—such as the development of servo motors that can output high torque even at low speeds and servo-controlled die cushions with freely programmable pressure settings—enable not only the high-precision forming of new materials but also the forming of highly contoured vehicle bodies.
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