Abstract

The use of hydroforming to shape complex composite parts is proposed in this work. Hydroforming is expected to greatly increase the formability of composite sheet by the use of a controllable heated, pressurized fluid. Hydroforming, in comparison with sheet stamping, is a more economical manufacturing process, since it does not require the use of a female die. The pressurized fluid acts as a support for the composite sheet throughout the forming process. A numerical analysis has been performed on this process in order to develop a method of predicting the final part geometry. The numerical analysis takes into account the pressurized fluid, the thermal effects, and the clamping mechanism used to hold the material in place as the part is formed. Numerical results show that using hydroforming for manufacturing glass fiber reinforced polypropylene composite material significantly reduces the strain, especially within the cup region of the hemispherical part. The fluid pressure also has an effect on the internal stresses of the part by allowing deeper draws before rupture. The experimentation, coupled with the prediction of the finite element modeling, indicates that the hydroforming of composite materials is a viable processing method that deserves more attention based on the significant advantages it provides in cost savings and part production accuracy.

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