HYDROFORMED TUBE Future growth favors high-end, low-volume vehicles
Apr 01, 2008 | 01:39 PM
Hydroformed tubes are seeing slow but steady growth in automotive applications, and aluminum is getting in on some of that action as well.
The increased use of aluminum tubes likely follows a more general trend toward lightweight structures, said Robert Perkins, director of supply chain and technology forecasts at CSM Worldwide, Northville, Mich.
Jay Baron, director of the manufacturing, engineering and technology group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., agrees that there has been slow but steady growth in hydroformed tubular products, whether they're steel or aluminum. But manufacturers have been slow to adopt hydroformed tubes not so much because tubes cost more but because they take longer to make than stamped parts. The slower forming process and the integration of the tube into the overall structure (e.g. joining) drives up their total cost.....
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