Page 46 - MetalForming March 2016
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Software Assist Propels
Hot-Forming Die Design and Build
 Simulation of this automotive B-pillar indicates material thinning after forming. The hot- forming process is intricate and demands special attention. Simulation allows multiple variables to be tested in hours, minimizing tool-design time and costs.
The global push to smaller cars increasingly fosters conflicts between lightweighting versus crashworthiness. Meeting vehicle requirements for smaller, lighter bod- ies without compromising occupant safety is refocusing the energy and efforts of auto-industry OEMs and their suppliers as new lightweight materials and disruptive processes appear regularly.
However, innovation and ingenuity are not the whole story. Equally critical is time—time to place new products into production, and the cycle time of production itself.
“In the years I worked at an auto OEM, the allowable time to develop a new model was compressed from three years to 12 to 14 months,” explains Ulf Wigren, tooling and simulation depart- ment product manager at Sweden- based AP&T Group. As a developer of metalforming systems, die sets, tooling and hydraulic presses, AP&T is on the front lines in the battle to ever more quickly develop automotive models.
One major AP&T Group challenge lies in placing hot-formed dies into pro- duction in customers’ plants within shrinking timeframes. Not long ago, manufacturing engineers, systems designers and tooling providers needed a year or more to engineer, build, test and install a new production system. Today, AP&T finds normal delivery time for a hot-forming die set to be approxi- mately 25 weeks. AP&T notes that some so-called “crash parts” in new small cars can only be produced with the com- plex hot-forming process and that sim- ulation is essential at every step in devel-
 This realistic illustration of blank forming was completed in a virtual-reality software program. “The integration of simulation/analysis and virtual-reality software allows us to set up a simulation rapidly in virtual reality,” says Ulf Wigren, tooling and simulation department product manager at AP&T Group. “Before (adding the virtual-reality com- ponent), conveying this information to a customer could take two days. With the inte- gration, we can show customers how our die sets work and how we automate hot- forming processes.” Photo courtesy of AP&T
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