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Sheet Metal Manufacturing Processes - Stretch Forming
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Stretch forming is a process whereby sheet metal or extrusions are physically stretched over a forming die using a hydraulic press. There are methods of achieving this which differ slightly and are generally used in different industries.
In the automotive industry in particular, stretch forming dies are used to shape body panels. The blank is clamped over the die cavity and the punch is brought down to press the work piece. Because the blank is clamped around its edges, the material stretches and thins as it is formed.
In the aerospace industry the process can be slightly different. Instead of using both a punch and die, the material is clamped and stretched over the forming die to produce aircraft skins.
This process is highly accurate and highly repeatable. Materials commonly formed are steel, aluminium and titanium sheets. As well as the applications in the automotive and aerospace industries, stretch forming is also widely used to form aluminium boat hulls and architectural shapes from sheet metals.
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