Hot Forming Presses
Beckwood manufactures hot forming and superplastic forming (SPF) presses to withstand and thrive in the demanding conditions associated with forming titanium and other high-strength alloys. And we are the only press manufacturer to offer both hydraulic and servo-electric actuation options on our hot forming equipment.
During the hot forming process, both the tool and blank are heated up to 2,000°F to increase the plasticity and elongation characteristics of the material. The introduction of heat allows high-strength materials to be formed at significantly lower tonnages when compared to cold forming without the risk of cracking, spring-back, or residual stress.
Superplastic Forming Presses
While some similarities exist between hot forming and superplastic forming, the SPF process has its own unique characteristics. SPF uses extreme temperatures in conjunction with argon gas to form high-strength alloys into complex shapes in a single step. During the cycle, the heated material is clamped between a die and a plate. Argon gas is injected into the forming chamber, pushing the blank into the die. The resulting parts have a fine surface finish and are near-net-shape, eliminating the need for secondary finishing.
Hot Forming Press Options
Common to all Beckwood hot forming or superplastic forming machines are options to efficiently handle the extremely high temperatures inherent to the process. Platens can be fabricated from ceramics, stainless materials, or other exotic metal alloys depending on the specific application requirements. Automated insulated door systems can be provided to efficiently contain the heat within the forming chamber, while also allowing adequate access during part or tool loading and unloading sequences.
Beckwood hot forming and SPF presses provide ultimate precision, optimal temperature control and uniformity, and extreme process repeatability. Our proprietary Active Leveling Control (ALC) also ensures bed-to-ram parallelism is maintained despite tool warpage or off-center loading.
Hot Forming / Superplastic Forming Press Features:
- Hydraulic or servo-electric actuation
- Electric heating systems with multi-zone temperature control for uniformity across the platen
- Controlled pressure ramping
- Precise gas management (SPF)
- Bed shuttles for simplified tool and part loading and unloading
- Automatic insulated door systems with multi-side access for maximum heat efficiency and easy tool or part loading and unloading
- Pneumatic dwell systems & Variable Frequency Drives for energy efficiency and noise reduction
- Data acquisition systems
- PressLink remote support
- Active Leveling Control
- Press health monitoring systems, including Pre-Preventive Maintenance
The terms 'hot forming' and 'hot stamping' are often used interchangeably in the manufacturing industry, but the two processes, and the machinery needed to support them, are actually quite different.
Hot forming is a process that heats titanium and other high-strength alloys to extreme temperatures which allows them to be formed in the press while in a soft, malleable state. The hot forming process uses heated platens to heat the cold or slightly warmed blank during the press cycle. The introduction of heat inside the press increases the ability to form complex shapes at lower tonnages without the worry of fracturing or spring-back. Because the malleability of the material is increased, hot forming presses are usually much lower tonnages than cold forming presses performing the same function. This is a low volume process, where parts go in cold, come out hot and end in a similar microstructure as they began.
Hot forming is most commonly used to form structural components for the aerospace industry including ribs, engine systems, and landing gear.
Hot stamping requires heat outside of the press, includes a quenching step, and changes the microstructure of the steel. The hot stamping process uses an oven to heat the blank, and then the hot blank is transferred into a stamping press, usually via robot or other automated means. The press does not have heated platens, which means a significant higher tonnage is required to form the part correctly. The hot blank is fed into the press and stamped with a die and cooled during the quenching process. Within this quenching process, the crystal structure of the steel transforms from an austenitic phase to a martensitic phase. In the martensitic phase, the carbon atoms are trapped within the structure, resulting in high strength but low-fracture resistance. Hot stamping is a high-volume production with more throughput, but the chance for spring-back and cracking is greater because of the forming and quenching process. The part starts as a low-tensile strength material and comes out as a high-strength and hard material. Hot stamping is most often used in the automotive industry to form door beams, roof rails, body pillars, and tunnel reinforcements.