Metal sheets can be forced into different shapes through methods such as hydroforming and rubber pad pressing. These are usually low-volume and for that reason face shortage of skilled labour, high costs and high lead times.
These undesirable qualities can be nullified by the use of FDM technology based 3D production process. FDM tools can help companies override these challenges and get from production to design within 24 hours. FDM technology also promises a range of strong materials that can be prototyped to deliver to higher ergonomics, lightness of the end product, hundreds of run cycles and little change in the current process.
Custom hydroforming with FDM tooling is great for prototype making and development work, repair parts, and one–off custom parts. In the aerospace industry for example, hydroforming and rubber pad pressing are used to form sheet metal into airframe or engine components. In the automotive industry, they are used to produce engine cradles, suspension components, radiator and instrument panel support beams and engine components. Military depots produce one–off replacements for the repair of damaged vehicles and aircraft through this method.