Optimization of Material Properties and Process Parameters for Tube Hydroforming of Aluminum Extrusions

[+] Author and Article Information
Adam R. Loukus, Mehdi Imaninejad

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931

Ghatu Subhash1

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931subhash@mtu.edu


Corresponding author. New address: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. email: subhash@ufl.edu

J. Eng. Mater. Technol 129(2), 233-241 (Jul 31, 2006) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2400259 History: Received March 10, 2005; Revised July 31, 2006

Analysis of process optimization for hydroforming of central-bulge and T-branch from AA6063 tubes is conducted for W-temper and T4 heat-treated conditions. Systematic characterization of AA6063 mechanical properties as a function of aging time was also conducted. It was found that hydroforming in the W temper facilitates forming of a bigger T branch (due to available greater ductility), but limits the strength (hardness) of the final component compared to that formed in the T4 condition. By optimizing the material heat-treatment conditions and the process parameters during hydroforming, strains well in excess of the traditional forming limits can be achieved in the finished components. The relevant microstructural kinetics during hydroforming of the above two geometries in the two heat treated conditions and the associated strengthening mechanisms in aluminum alloys are discussed.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

(a) Schematic of the closed-die geometry to produce a central bulge using hydroforming; and (b) a portion of hydroformed tube revealing the final dimensions

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Figure 2

(a) FE meshed geometry and (b) schematic of the setup for hydroforming of T-branch

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Figure 3

(a) Hydroforming press (3500kN closing capacity) at MTU and (b) schematic of the typical optimized feed path

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Figure 4

Tensile response of AA6063 as a function of aging time after solution treatment and quenching operation

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Figure 5

Variation of yield strength and hardening coefficient as a function of aging time

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Figure 6

Original and hydroformed aluminum tubes

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Figure 7

Vickers hardness (at 10kg load) as a function of natural aging time before and after closed-die hydroforming

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Figure 8

(a) Surface strains plotted on a FLD measured from regions indicated on the hydroformed tube shown in (b)

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Figure 9

Comparisons of thickness between experiments and FE simulations (in bold) of T-branch on (a) and T4 and (b) W-tempered materials. The dotted lines indicate the outer diameter of the undeformed tube. (c) Location of thickness measurements on the T-branch. (d) Plot of thickness values versus position.



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