Hydro-Explosive Forming

PA&E’s Bonded Metals Division, formerly known as Northwest Technical Industries (NTI), specializes in Explosive hydro-forming, a metal forming technique that uses the energy generated by an explosive detonation to form the metal work piece. This process can deliver a great deal of flexibility in the metal-forming process.

Since explosive forming transmits the explosively-generated energy through water, it can simulate a variety of other conventional metal forming techniques. With flat-plate designs, explosive hydro-forming is very comparable to stamp- or press-forming. Where cylindrical work pieces need to be formed, it can simulate spin-forming. Additionally, explosive hydro-forming openly competes with conventional hydro-forming and hot-stretch forming. In fact, where each of these metal-forming techniques come up short, explosive hydro-forming still has more to offer. Explosive hydro-forming can simulate a variety of these forming techniques in a single forming operation.

Explosive Hydro-forming

Explosive hydro-forming has been an accepted metal-forming technique for almost 50 years. It has been used in a wide variety of applications in the automotive, aerospace, and maritime industries. PA&E has extensive experience using this technique to form a wide variety of metals. Typical forming projects yield very close tolerances and very high degrees of repeat-ability.

Explosive hydro-forming can offer significant cost savings on short-run parts because it often only requires a one-sided tooling die. In the explosive hydro-forming process, the water slug applies force evenly over the surface of the work piece, as it forms into the cavity of the forming die.

Explosive hydro-forming can also efficiently form large parts. Since the power generation comes from an explosive charge, you don’t need larger machinery to form large parts, you simply apply a larger charge. Current explosively hydro-formed parts range up to 6 feet.

Explosive Forming Benefits

Explosive-forming has many benefits. It employs lower tooling costs and uses stamping type applications which only require a one-sided tooling die. Explosive energy can be transmitted differently across the part, in order to concentrate force onto specific forming features. It has a large size capability and is suited to difficult configurations.

Explosively-formed parts can range up to 6 feet and have very few limitations. Explosive-forming can simulate many aspects of all other conventional forming methods, without their respective limitations.

Explosive Forming Process

Download the PA&E Explosive Metal Forming Capabilities Presentation (PDF)