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Rockwell Automation Solution Provider

JVH has an installed base of over 200 Allen-Bradley hydraulic control modules. Installation of our control systems can be found throughout the United States, France, Spain, Japan, and China. Our experience with hydraulic press controls and plastic injection machinery were prerequisites in establishing our engineered control systems for hydroforming. JVH Engineering has been installing systems for the hydroforming industry since 1994.

Hydroforming has been used in Europe since the early 1980’s and was adopted in North America in the early 1990's. Hydroforming of metal components is a widely used process in several industries. Hydroformed metal parts are ideal for automotive sub-frames, exhaust systems, and structural parts. The hydroforming process starts with a straight or bent welded tube that is placed into a forming die and then filled with water using extremely high pressure causing the metal tubing to be re-formed and bent. A critical parameter in hydroforming is the magnitude of the chamber pressure. Excessive pressure may lead to tearing of the tube, while insufficient pressure may result in wrinkling. For best results, it is important to have fast and accurate control of the process parameters. The critical process parameters include velocity, pressure, and position, which are the same parameters, used for the plastic injection molding process.

Closed Loop Process Control
We use the Allen-Bradley Control Logix platform to control the water velocity and pressure used in the hydroforming process, as well as the axial force cylinders, which provides a watertight seal at the tube’s ends. Sealing not only keeps the intensified water pressure inside the tube, but the axial cylinders also feed the tube material into the places where expansion occurs. The steps in each control profile allows the needed flexibility to accurately model the desired pressure or velocity motion required by the system in each step of the hydroforming process.

Solutions are also available utilizing Allen-Bradley’s Compact Logix platform and third party motion control modules; such as the Bosch Rexroth HACD, the Delta Motion controller, or the Parker Compax3. Allen-Bradley solutions using the PLC5 platform or the SLC are also available at the customer’s request.

The HMI industrial operator interface uses a sleek, flat panel, color touch display using industry standard symbols. This allows the operator to access profiles, as well as generate, store, and display quality control data, diagnostics, and other valuable information at the touch of a button on the screen. The HMI system is also equipped with a shock mounted hard drive for storage of additional hydroform mold part recipes. When changing tools, just download the next required hydroform mold recipe to the programmable controller and control modules. JVH Engineering has programmed the display screens to run within Rockwell’s FactoryTalk View SE, FactoryTalk View ME, and RSView32.

Integrated Control Hardware
Control hardware for electrical power distribution and motor control for pumps and auxiliary equipment utilizes Allen-Bradley’s motor control center equipment. The other electrical control devices are housed within variously sized control cabinets throughout the machine. The control for the press system provides the holding tonnage for the hydroform mold and velocity with positioning control for the main ram, which can be integrated into the hydroform control system.

Hydroforming Process Hydraulics System
These hydraulic systems are constructed using pre-engineered modules that are assembled specifically suited to the application.

The main hydraulic pumping system incorporates a unique vertical design. The pump is totally submersed in the hydraulic oil, which reduces noise and eliminates potential pump cavitations. The pumping units are built in identical modules for easier service, thus reducing downtime. Each pumping system includes one outlet manifold consisting of a safety solenoid blocking valve, proportional pressure controls for each pump, high pressure manifold mounted filter, and high pressure safety relief valve. Each pumping system includes an offline fluid conditioning system, virtually eliminating production shutdown for maintenance. Additional safety diagnostics include low oil level and high oil temperature shut downs.

The high-pressure hydroforming system incorporates a distinctive combination of linear motion and pressure control. This provides a flexible means of profiling to any application. These eliminate hydraulic shock and water hammering normally associated with 30,000 PSI (or greater) systems. The auxiliary hydraulic motions associated with the tool design are performed with proportional control mounted on separate custom steel manifolds located at the fixture. These manifolds incorporate straight thread “O” ring ports and four bolt flange designs to eliminate fluid leakage.

Press System
JVH Engineering provides control systems for the hydroforming process, which can include the hydroforming hydraulic system, water system with high pressure valving, and integrated process control. The press can be new, used, or an existing hydroforming system that requires a retrofit on the existing control system. Hydroforming typically requires a vertical acting hydraulic press with substantial clamping force and platens sized to fit the mold requirements. The press should be vertical because of the water system used for hydroforming. High clamping force (tonnage) is required to hold the mold closed while injecting high-pressure water to yield the metal part. The size of the platen will be dictated by the size of the part. Retrofits and used presses will usually have a separate hydraulic system already on the press. Clamp speed, motion, and positioning capabilities are features required in hydroforming, therefore, the complete system must have the press and hydroforming process integrated into one system to provide coordinated control of the machine.

The press and hydroforming process systems are engineered to meet the needs of the tooling (hydroform mold), therefore, the requirements of the tooling must be determined first. Hydraulic valving for auxiliary process functions must also be determined. Planning for tool requirements must be flexible enough to allow multiple sets of hydroforming molds with differing auxiliary functions to be run in the same hydroforming machine. The control system has the ability to reprogram the process to run selected tooling. Each tool will require individual programming when first installed on the system. Once the program has been written for a specific tool, it is stored on the system hard drive for retrieval if and when the tool is reinstalled.


Rockwell Automation Solution Provider | Industrial Automation

JVH Engineering • 3040 Ivanrest Ave., Grandville, Michigan 49418 • Phone (616) 531-9861 • Fax (616) 531-7763
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