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Canadian expertise helps automakers form sheet metal to create stronger, lighter vehicles

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A Canadian research team is just a few years away from overcoming a major challenge facing automotive manufacturers: how to mass produce doors, hoods, trunks and other car body parts that are stronger and lighter, without sacrificing design flexibility.

The new technology could also mean big business for one southern Ontario auto parts supplier that is collaborating with university researchers and Ford Motor Company on a new Automotive Partnership Canada project.

Amino North America Corporation—a world leader in sheet hydroforming—plans to combine its process with a revolutionary technology called electrohydraulic forming (EHF), which discharges a high voltage current into a water-filled chamber. Pressure created by the discharge provides the mechanical force necessary to form sheet metal into complex shapes with shaper corners and smaller features—something not possible with conventional metal forming processes.

The hybrid technology would make it possible to use higher strength materials to produce vehicles that are lighter, more fuel efficient and with more complex shapes. EHF can also produce more parts per work shift than conventional processes, thereby increasing production capacity and lowering overall manufacturing costs.

The final step will be to create guidelines that enable engineers to start designing parts made with EHF technology.

EHF is expected to have broad applications in several industry sectors, including agricultural, aeronautical, power generation and even appliances. Read more...