Low-Budget Hydroformer Puts the Squeeze on Sheet Metal Parts

Between manufacturing technologies like 3D-printing, CNC routers, lost-whatever metal casting, and laser and plasma cutters, professional quality parts are making their way into even the most modest of DIY projects. But stamping has largely eluded the home-gamer, what with the need for an enormous hydraulic press and massive machined dies. There’s more than one way to stamp parts, though, and the budget-conscious shop might want to check out this low-end hydroforming method for turning sheet metal into quality parts.

If hydroforming sounds familiar, it might be because we covered [Colin Furze]’s attempt, which used a cheap pressure washer to inflate sheet metal bubbles with high-pressure water. The video below shows a hydroformer that [Rainbow Aviation] uses (with considerably less screaming) to make stamped aluminum parts for home-brew aircraft. The kicker with this build is that there is no fluid — at least not until the 40,000-pound hydraulic press semi-liquifies the thick neoprene rubber pad placed over the sheet metal blank and die. The pressure squeezes the metal into and around the die, forming some pretty complex shapes in a single operation. We especially like the pro-tip of using Corian solid-surface countertop material offcuts to make the dies, since they’re available for a pittance from cabinet fabricators.

It’s always a treat to see hacks from the home-brew aviation world. They always seem to have plenty of tricks and tips to share, like this pressure-formed light cowling we saw a while back.

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What Happens When You Fold Paper a 7th Time?

Ever heard that myth(?) about not being able to fold a sheet of paper more than 7 times? Well if you’ve ever tried it you know it’s impossible to even fold it a sixth time with your bare hands… but what if you have an industrial hydraulic press to help you out?

News to us, a YouTube channel exists called the Hydraulic Press Channel, dedicated to — you guessed it — crushing absolutely anything and everything with the help of a hydraulic press. Narrated by a lovely old chap whose accent (and colorful language) we can’t quite place, the channel is filled with amusing videos of guaranteed destruction — including paper.

But the result is not what you would expect at all — you’ll have to watch the video to see. With a bang and a tremble the seventh fold seems to change the material properties of paper. Can anyone explain what’s going on here?

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