Sheet Metal Forming

What is Flexform sheet metal forming?

Flexform, also called fluid cell forming, is a low-cost sheet metal forming process designed for both prototyping and lower volume parts production.

A widely trusted technology

Quintus Technologies has designed, built and installed more than 150 Flexform fluid cell presses for major manufacturers worldwide, including Airbus, Ford, Boeing, Daimler-Benz, Bombardier, BMW, Embraer, and Volvo, along with a growing number of component suppliers to the aerospace and automotive industries.

Speed, versatility and inexpensive

Flexform is a versatile solution for the manufacturing of highly defined prototype components, particularly for industries where speed and lower costs are crucial in reducing time-to-market and staying globally competitive. The inexpensive prototype tool can also be used for parts production in low quantities for niche markets.

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The Flexform Principle

Often compared to sheet hydroforming presses, Flexform fluid cell presses employ ultra-high pressure to form a wide variety of complex shapes.

The concept is simple

A sheet metal blank is placed over a single shape-defining tool half. Tools and blanks are loaded into forming trays that shuttle in and out of the press. Parts are placed in the tray with no need for fine alignment or fixing in place.

You only need to make one tool half

The upper tool half is a flexible rubber diaphragm which is pressurized by pumping in oil. As pressure increases, the diaphragm forms the blank uniformly around and into the tool. When the set pressure is reached, the oil is decompressed and pumped out of the press and the diaphragm returns to its rest position. Formed parts are removed, and new blanks are loaded for another cycle.

High-pressure means high quality

Pressures up to 1,400 bar (20,000 psi), an equivalent press force as high as 150,000 tons, ensure close tolerance parts direct from the press with little or no secondary work required. It is possible to form and trim in a single operation. Bulging or expansion forming can also be performed with Flexform fluid cell presses.

We can control the pressure more accurately on small parts in this press and eliminate even more touch labor. The press is easy to operate, user friendly, requires short time to train operators, and needs little maintenance.
Reference | Cessna Aircraft Company Four decades of high-pressure parts forming
For many parts, hand correction of incompletely-formed shapes has been completely eliminated. We have documented cost savings of 25 to 42 percent on sampled parts due to fewer required cycles and reduced manual rework.
Reference | Daher Daher cuts costs with high-pressure parts forming
The quality of the parts meets the same standards set by the original press, but setup time has been reduced remarkably: 2.5 minutes less per part. Overall labor time has been cut by 60 percent, from 9 minutes to 3.6 minutes.
Reference | Tusas Aerospace Industries High-pressure parts forming at TAI

Flexform benefits

Many companies, particularly in the aerospace market, use Flexform to form the majority of their sheet metal production parts. Fluid cell forming is perfectly suited to the relatively low-volume requirements of commercial, military and business aircraft. Quick cycle models can produce up to 120 parts per hour, and automated pallet systems can substantially improve efficiency in longer production runs.

Manufacturers profit from the unique advantages of the Flexform concept:
  • Very low tooling costs
  • Intricate shapes formed to close assembly tolerances
  • Multiple parts per cycle
  • Short setup times
  • Finished parts directly off the press with little or no manual rework

Seven reasons to choose Flexform

Fluid cell forming has proven to have a number of economic and processing advantages, particularly when compared to rubber pad pressing and mechanical or hydraulic stamping:

  1. Flexform requires only a single, shape-defining punch or die, cutting tool costs by 50 to 90 percent
  2. Complex, close tolerance parts can be produced, often in one operation
  3. Higher productivity, because multiple parts can be processed in a single cycle
  4. Faster lead times with quick tool setup and cycle times ranging from one to three minutes
  5. Virtually any sheet metal from 0.1mm to more than 16 millimeters (.004 to .63 inches) can be formed
  6. Blemish-free parts, free from scratches or gall marks
  7. Complex parts can be designed and produced that would be prohibitively expensive with conventional presses

More than 150 Flexform Presses installed world-wide

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