Understanding the Basics of Bladder and Tubular Metal Hydroforming

In today’s world, a wide range of practices that were once considered hard, complicated and time-consuming have been simplified thanks to the introduction of technology and very specialized tools.

Back in the day, blacksmithing was done through the help of hammers, a furnace, lots of heat, and many other tools, and blacksmiths considered this specific craftsmanship to require years and years of experience to be fully mastered.

Nowadays, different ways of handling and modifying metals have been discovered and created, making things a lot easier and far more efficient.  Of course, a lot of these new tools and technologies do require a certain level of knowledge and expertise to be properly applied, but in comparison to how things were back in the day, things are definitely better.

That is why, to ensure that many fields and industries can stay afloat, a great deal of practices involving these new types of technologies have been created, mainly because they are the ones generating all the assets, components, parts and tools needed in multiple processes involving them.

The more complex procedures are inside of a field or industry, the more complex these practices tend to be, yet there are times in which specific practices, considered affordable and simple, and are capable of providing the same level of quality and complexity.

And when it comes to shaping metals, a very common asset in a lot of industries, hydroforming is probably among the most reliable choices. But what is hydroforming, and why is it divided in both bladder and tubular?

The Very Basics Behind Hydroforming 

So, hydroforming can be simply described as an affordable, cost-effective way of shaping metals. More specifically speaking, ductile metals, which are metals that can be manipulated in many different ways without it breaking.

This can be complicated to address considering that all metals are ductile enough under the right circumstances, which often involve a lot of heat. However, metals that cannot be manipulated to the same extent under regular circumstances are called brittle, whereas ductiles can definitely be manipulated under room temperature.

The thing about hydroforming is that it manages to manipulate metals thanks to high-pressure liquid that is pushed against a plate of metal, and a die. This die is the one deciding the final shape of the product, and many different types of dies are used to achieve a very large selection of shapes, for the sake of fulfilling very specific needs.

The liquid that is used for this practice varies from water, oil, and hydraulic fluids. The main purpose of this practice is creating components from alloy steel, brass, aluminum, stainless steel, among many other similar ductile metals. Said components created through hydroforming are often considered specialized components since it is possible to achieve very complex designs through it, designs that otherwise would be impossible.

Some of the industries that benefit the most out of this specific practice include the automobile industry and the aerospace industry, mostly because they often require very complex designs as components, and these designs need to be strong, light, and rigid to be used as pieces for manufacturing.

Considering that hydroforming is rather inexpensive and it is capable of creating really good pieces of work, it is often perceived as a very reliable way of working with metals by a considerable number of companies all around the world, especially the ones that work in manufacturing.

That being said, there are two types of hydroforming, and although similar, they do share some differences between them.

Bladder and Tubular Hydroforming

The main two types of hydroforming are both bladder and tubular. Of course, although there are two types of hydroforming, finding a bladder and tubular hydroforming company that provides the two types of services is not rare, since it allows them to cover more specialized components for a wider range of companies.

Now, as mentioned earlier, this practice focuses on the use of high-pressure liquid to shape metals that are malleable under room temperature. This aspect of the process does not change regardless of whether it is the bladder or tubular method. However, the main difference between both techniques is that they can achieve specific results meant to fulfill specific needs.

For example, the bladder technique is used for more detailed, flexible, durable and strong pieces of work that are lighter in weight. Generally speaking, this technique is used to produce pieces of a higher quality, at the cost of more time and effort, and a much more complex process.

On the other hand, tubular hydroforming is a lot simpler to manage, and although it might not create pieces as complex and stiff as the ones created through the bladder technique, it is still possible to create very complex pieces of work that are still capable of fulfilling very specific needs.

In the end, there’s not a better technique. It’s just a matter of needs, and the requirements of specific clientele. This is the reason why many companies do focus on both types of methods, since it ensures that they are capable of creating the pieces they need for multiple types of industries and customers, thus, ensuring a better flow of work, and better results for all parties involved.

And considering that both methods are actually cheap and often considered cost-effective, they both have become the most acclaimed methods to rely on when it comes to creating complex pieces of work made out of metal. Doors, saxophones, and even pieces for cars, trucks, and planes, a wide range of goods and assets all around the world are relying on this particular practice to handle their needs.

One of the responsibilities of any service provider that focus on the manipulation of metals is, of course, choosing the right method to deliver the best possible result for their customers, which is the reason why, although the manipulation of metals have been simplified, we still need a certain level of training, knowledge and experience to be able to create masterpieces capable of handling even the most complex machineries created by mankind.