Examining the Intersection of the Automotive Industry and Hydraulic Presses
Hydraulic presses have been an important part of the automotive manufacturing industry for many years. To understand where they intersect, we must first look at automotive manufacturing itself. Once you understand how vehicles are manufactured and what goes into the process, the need for the hydraulic press becomes much clearer.
Introduction to Automotive Manufacturing
Automotive manufacturing is complex. When cars and trucks are made, their individual parts must first be created. In many cases, the components of each vehicle are created in a completely separate facility- typically tier 1, 2 or 3 automotive supplier companies.
This concept of separate manufacturing facilities highlights how important it is for both consistency and high quality when producing each part. Without consistent performance, it wouldn’t be possible to manufacture the automotive parts across a wide variety of companies. Poor adherence to measurements and specifications would cause quality and conformance issues. Without consistency in quality, these tiered automotive suppliers would be unable to serve major automotive manufacturers.
How Hydraulic Presses Facilitate Automotive Manufacturing
Hydraulic presses are used to create a wide variety of automotive industry parts, whether they are forming, punching or press fitting parts. The versatility, even pressure and wide tonnage range available on a hydraulic press make it possible to manufacture anything from formed door panels to a wide variety of sub-assemblies. The existence of the hydraulic press makes it easy for manufacturers to consistently create the high-quality parts that today’s automotive companies require.
Applications of Hydraulic Presses in the Automotive Industry
Any part of an automobile that can be stamped or formed into shape is often created on a hydraulic press. Examples are endless and may include hoods, truck bed liners, engine covers, brake pads, fuel delivery parts, friction plates, exhaust parts, acoustic fabric panels, spherical bearings and door panels to name a few.
Most often, facilities that manufacture automotive parts are creating large quantities every day, and employ fully automated systems to deliver lower overall operating costs. Specialized features are used to ensure quality, such as heated platen designs, which provide advanced temperature uniformity to reduce scrap rate and cure time. Vacuum options prevent air entrapment and contaminants inside molds also reducing scrapped parts and cycle times. Electric monitoring systems are also often used to verify that all process parameters are within a preset tolerance to guarantee the quality and consistency of each and every part. Using systems like this significantly reduce costly scrap rates while insuring high quality, traceability and reliability.
Frames and Panels
These pieces tend to be very large and are created with powerful presses that apply pressure around 2,000 tons. Suction cups on long arms are attached to the sheets of metal. The metal is moved into the hydraulic press, and then the suction cups are released. The press is engaged to form the metal into the desired frame or panel. Either employees or another suction cup arm remove the finished piece and transfer it to its storage location.
This process contributes to fuel efficiency by allowing for the use of lighter metals. In order to tolerate traditional bending methods, the metals would need to be much heavier, making the automobile itself significantly heavier. This would require automobiles to carry and use more gasoline to travel the same distance as lighter vehicles.
Small and Simple Parts
This category includes items like wiper blades. There are so many parts that go into a car, and a lot of the simple ones can be mass produced. A less simple example, but still a small part, is an automobile handle. They are typically made of more than one piece, but the pieces themselves can be made by a press and then assembled in bulk. Gears are another good example of something that can be efficiently manufactured by a hydraulic press.
Parts like fuel injection sensors can be created with the help of a hydraulic press as well. The reason for this is the need for precision in the process. You wouldn’t need a lot of force to use a different approach for creating these parts, but you would have a hard time replicating them in the exact same way and without issues every time with other methods.
Hydraulic presses are essential to the modern automobile manufacturing industry. With so many hydraulic press types and added features available, hydraulic presses continue to be a preferred method for part making within the automotive industry.