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Tube Forming: Tube Hydroforming

Tube hydroforming is a process which involves deforming a tube under hydrostatic pressure in the cavity of a die. Much the same way that a balloon can be blown up, solid tubes can be permanently deformed. Similar process has been used for decades to manufacture pop bottles (blow forming).

The Stages of Hydroforming

Stage 1: A tube is inserted between dies


Stage 2: Required shape selected


Stage 3: Two dies are locked


Stage 4: Hydraulic press is used to lock


Stage 5
Two axial pistons close the dies by pressing onto the tube ends, and a high pressure fluid is then introduce. The pressure is increased and deforms the tube.


FE Simulation of Forming Process

Tube Hydroforming Automotive Applications


Tube hydroforming of metals has been in extensive use for automotive component manufacturing in the last 10 years.

The advantages of this process are:

  • Lighter weight, while still using same materials
  • Stronger body, because of design shapes maximizing
  • Cheaper product, as reduced number and simplification of manufacturing processes
  • Waste reduction, as result that less material and less processes of trmming are used
  • Dimensional accuracy, since shapes can be very consistently produced
These factors assemble processes for many automotive parts such as engine cradles, frame rails and instrumented panel beams.



MFL Tube Hydroforming Research and Development

McMaster Metal Forming Laboratorary investigated aspects of tube hydroforming for automotive structural applications and adapted the technology to corporate research grants (Magna, Alcoa, Dofasco, Dana, etc.) as follows:

  • several part geometries and corresponding dies were developed
  • any required adapter and framework for mounting to the press is developed

Tube seals

Pressure intensifier

Axial feed cycles

Mounting bracket