Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20070074556 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/441,436
Publication date5 Apr 2007
Filing date25 May 2006
Priority date4 Oct 2005
Also published asEP1941111A2, WO2007044327A2, WO2007044327A3
Publication number11441436, 441436, US 2007/0074556 A1, US 2007/074556 A1, US 20070074556 A1, US 20070074556A1, US 2007074556 A1, US 2007074556A1, US-A1-20070074556, US-A1-2007074556, US2007/0074556A1, US2007/074556A1, US20070074556 A1, US20070074556A1, US2007074556 A1, US2007074556A1
InventorsDavid Heatherington
Original AssigneeShape Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Continuous process of roll-forming stamped sheet
US 20070074556 A1
Abstract
An apparatus includes a press with dies configured to deform a strip of material by drawing material primarily from a width direction, a slitter set to cut the deformed strip to a uniform desired width dimension, and a roll-former with rolls configured to shape linear portions of the deformed and now uniform-width strip into a continuous beam. The apparatus further includes a welder for welding abutting edges of the sheet together to form a permanent tube, a sweep station for imparting a longitudinal shape to the continuous beam, and a cut-off for cutting the continuous beam into segments useful as vehicle bumper beams. A controller controls timing of various components. The beam segments are optimized in specific regions for local strength and minimized weight, and features can be incorporated into the beam segments such as coplanar mounting surfaces.
Images(4)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. An apparatus adapted to form a reinforcement beam comprising:
a press including dies configured to deform a flat strip of heated metal material into a deformed strip with a three-dimensional shape by drawing and moving material;
a cooling system associated with the press and configured to cool the heated metal material of the deformed strip; and
a roll-former downstream of the press and cooling system and having rolls configured to shape edge portions of the deformed strip into a continuous beam.
2. The apparatus defined in claim 1, including stamping dies in the press having at least a portion of the cooling system therein.
3. The apparatus defined in claim 2, including a slitter set to cut the deformed strip to a uniform width of desired constant dimension.
4. The apparatus defined in claim 2, wherein the dies are configured to stretch and extrude the material in a lateral direction.
5. The apparatus defined in claim 1, wherein the cooling system is connected to the dies.
6. The apparatus defined in claim 1, wherein the rolls are configured and arranged to cause the opposing edge portions of the strip to abut.
7. The apparatus defined in claim 6, including a welder configured to weld the opposing edge portions together to form the beam as a permanent continuous tube.
8. The apparatus defined in claim 7, including a cut-off device for cutting the permanent continuous tube into beam segments.
9. The apparatus defined in claim 1, including a controller for controlling the press, the roll-former, and the cooling system in a coordinated manner.
10. The apparatus defined in claim 1, including a sweep station configured to impart a longitudinally curved shape to the beam.
11. The apparatus defined in claim 1, wherein the dies are configured to form flat mounting surfaces.
12. An apparatus adapted to form a reinforcement beam comprising:
a heater configured to heat steel material to a temperature of at least about 850° C.;
a press including dies configured to deform a continuous strip of hot steel material;
a cooling system associated with the press for quenching and hardening the hot steel material; and
a roll-former positioned in-line with the press and downstream of the cooling system and having rolls configured and arranged to receive the strip in the feed direction and shape edge portions of the deformed strip into a reinforcement beam.
13. A method comprising steps of:
hot-stamping a sheet of heated steel material having a first tensile strength, including drawing and stretching the material;
quenching the stamped sheet to cause the material to have a higher tensile strength; and
roll-forming portions of the stamped sheet by use of a roll-forming mill into a beam.
14. The method defined in claim 13, wherein the step of roll-forming is done along edge portions of the sheet generally outboard of a center portion of the sheet.
15. The method defined in claim 13, wherein the material has a yield strength after quenching of at least about 1000 MPa.
16. The method defined in claim 13, wherein the material has a tensile strength after quenching of at least about 1500 MPa.
17. The method defined in claim 13, including abutting and then welding edges of the sheet together to form a permanent tube.
18. The method defined in claim 13, including a step of sweeping the continuous beam into a longitudinal curvilinear shape.
19. The method defined in claim 18, wherein the step of stamping includes forming mounting surfaces on the first strip portion, the mounting surfaces being configured to engage and be secured to vehicle frame rails.
20. A method of forming a reinforcement beam comprising steps of:
providing a heater;
providing a press including forming dies at a location downstream of the heater and also a cooling system associated with the press;
providing a roll-former having rolls in-line and downstream of the press;
heating a strip of material;
operating the dies to deform the strip of material by drawing the hot material and thereafter quickly cooling the material; and
operating rolls of a roll-forming mill to receive the strip in a feed direction and shape edge portions of the deformed strip into a reinforcement beam.
Description
    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This is a continuation-in-part application of co-assigned, co-pending utility application Ser. No. 11/330,301, filed Feb. 11, 2006, entitled CONTINUOUS PROCESS OF ROLL-FORMING PRE-STAMPED VARYING SHAPES, which is turn claims benefit of provisional application Ser. No. 60/723,393, filed Oct. 4, 2005, entitled CONTINUOUS PROCESS OF ROLL-FORMING PRE-STAMPED VARYING SHAPES
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to a continuous process of roll-forming pre-stamped varying shapes, and more particularly relates to a process combining a stamping/deforming process with a roll-forming apparatus to obtain advantages of both in a continuous process.
  • [0003]
    The advantages associated with roll-forming have made roll-forming a preferred manufacturing method for many open structural sections and tubular structural sections. Automotive bumpers beams are one example of a product that has capitalized on the benefits of roll-forming to produce light weight, low cost, and performance based designs that are widely accepted and used commercially. Roll-formed tubular bumper beams represent a majority of the bumper beam market and continue to gain in popularity as bumper beams move from Class A surface designs such as stamped and chrome plated beams to structural beams that are positioned behind plastic fascias. Another style of bumpers are open sections (sometimes called “C” section bumpers) are also commonly used for bumper beam designs. These open sections typically require additional secondary processing to insert and weld strategically placed internal bulkheads and strapping. The use of bulkheads and strapping is to improve structural integrity of the section with the addition of a minimal amount of weight. These bulkheads and straps improve bending stiffness of the open section but achieve this increased performance at the cost of secondary processing.
  • [0004]
    The roll-forming process has many benefits that make it a cost-effective method of manufacturing tubular beams. Some advantages of roll-forming include the abilities to form high strength steels and Ultra High Strength Steels (UHSS). Pre-pierce, mid-pierce, and/or post-pierce operations can be used on flat sections of the sheet material before roll-forming. Also, operations can be done in-line with the roll-forming process, such as in-line welding and cutoff. However, roll-forming has limitations, such as the inability to change material properties within the part and the inability to change the cross section along the length of the part. The inability to change the cross section along the length of the part typically results in excessive material being used in areas where it is not needed to meet performance requirements in other areas where it is needed. The excessive material also adds to the weight of the part and to material cost. Specifically, testing and computer analysis shows that a tubular beam that is constrained at its ends and loaded in the center will exhibit a free body diagram where greater section depth, (i.e., moment of inertia) at the beam's center produces a stiffer beam. The inability to change the cross section of a roll-formed tubular beam along its length results in a tubular beam with a constant moment of inertia. The constant moment inertia results in excess material and geometry in areas along the length of the tubular beam that do not contribute to the overall bending stiffness of the beam.
  • [0005]
    Stamping processes have an advantage over roll-forming in that beams with non-uniform cross sections can be made. However, stamping operations are limited and generally less efficient than roll-forming since individual sheet blanks must be laterally moved and accurately positioned after each die stroke. Also, dies cannot make tubular beams without significant difficulty or complexity, or with secondary operations. Further, high strength and ultra high strength sheet material is very wearing on dies depending on the amount of shape deformation being imparted onto the sheet material and depending on a strength of the material.
  • [0006]
    It is noted that current roll-forming processes sometimes utilize relatively-lower-force, fast-acting stamping presses before the roll-forming process, but these presses are used to piece and cut features such as holes, slots, etc. into the material while it is flat and before roll-forming is used to shape the part.
  • [0007]
    Typical (most) stamping press methods for forming metals can be referred to as cold stamping. In cold stamping, the material is formed between dies, with the material and dies being kept generally at room temperature. Another type of forming is called hot stamping. In hot stamping processes, the metal is heated to its austenite temperature (AC3) and then cooled rapidly after forming is completed in the die. The required austenite temperature and time required to quench the material are dependent on the chemistry of the material, and the final properties desired. For example, it is known to heat steels containing 0.2% mass percent of carbon to 850° C. (or higher such as 880° C. to 950° C.) to reach their austenitic region, and then to pass them into cooled dies in a stamping press for forming while the steel is still sufficiently hot. The hot steel is formed using the stamping dies and then quickly cooled by the temperature of the dies and/or by quenching with water. For example, the material can remain in the die with the press in its full stroked position until the steel has reached a low enough temperature to maintain the desired material strength. However, the above-described hot stamping technique tends to be an intermittent “stop-and-go” process which historically is not considered to be well-suited for use in a continuous processes operating at relatively high line speeds (i.e. not well-suited for being used in-line with rollforming equipment). Further, I, the present inventor, am not aware of anyone combining stamping with rollforming, for the reasons discussed above.
  • [0008]
    Thus, a system having the aforementioned advantages and solving the aforementioned problems is desired.
  • SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
  • [0009]
    In one aspect of the present invention, an apparatus adapted to form a reinforcement beam includes a press having dies configured to deform a flat strip of heated metal material into a deformed strip with a three-dimensional shape by drawing and moving material, and a cooling system associated with the press and configured to cool the heated metal material of the deformed strip. A roll-former is located downstream of the press and cooling system and has rolls configured to shape edge portions of the deformed strip into a continuous beam.
  • [0010]
    In another aspect of the present invention, an apparatus adapted to form a reinforcement beam includes a heater configured to heat steel material to a temperature of at least about 850° C. A. press includes dies configured to deform a continuous strip of hot steel material. A cooling system is associated with the press for quenching and hardening the hot steel material. A roll-former is positioned in-line with the press and downstream of the cooling system and has rolls configured and arranged to receive the strip in the feed direction and shape edge portions of the deformed strip into a reinforcement beam.
  • [0011]
    In another aspect of the present invention, a method comprises steps of hot-stamping a sheet of heated steel material having a first tensile strength, including drawing and stretching the material. The method further includes quenching the stamped sheet to cause the material to have a higher tensile strength. The method still further includes roll-forming portions of the stamped sheet by use of a roll-forming mill into a beam.
  • [0012]
    In still another aspect of the present invention, a method of forming a reinforcement beam comprises steps of providing a heater, providing a press including forming dies at a location downstream of the heater and also a cooling system associated with the press, and providing a roll-former having rolls in-line and downstream of the press. The method includes heating a strip of material, operating the dies to deform the strip of material by drawing the hot material and thereafter quickly cooling the material, and operating rolls of a roll-forming mill to receive the strip in a feed direction and shape edge portions of the deformed strip into a reinforcement beam.
  • [0013]
    The present inventive concepts focus on tubular sections, but it should be noted that the concepts and their uniqueness can also be applied to open sections.
  • [0014]
    These and other aspects, objects, and features of the present invention will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art upon studying the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • [0015]
    FIG. 1 is a flow chart showing a process embodying the present invention.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 1A is a side view of an apparatus incorporating a roll-forming mill, a stamping station, a welding station, and a sweeping station for the process of FIG. 1.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 2 is a side view of a vehicle bumper beam embodying the present invention.
  • [0018]
    FIGS. 3-6 are cross sections taken through FIG. 2.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 7 is a side view of the vehicle bumper beam after being roll-formed but prior to being longitudinally swept.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 8 is an end view of the beam of FIG. 7 moving through an exemplary roll-forming station, the view showing the beam, the rolls, and a weld joint.
  • [0021]
    FIGS. 9-9A are a flow chart and side view of a corresponding machine similar to FIGS. 1 and 1A, but adapted for hot stamping steel sheet material prior to the roll forming portion of the machine.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0022]
    The current invention defines a way to produce roll-formed tubular beams with varying cross sections from high-strength sheet material, such as materials of over 80 ksi tensile strength and even ultra-high-strength steel of over 140 ksi tensile strength (sometimes called “UHSS” or “AUHSS” material). For example, a DP980 (DF140) material has successfully been used. The ability to change cross sections along the length of the beam is achieved by combining a pre-forming process via stamping with the roll-forming. The stamping process and roll-forming operations are done in-line and sequentially. Sequential processes in-line without the need for secondary handling results in a very cost efficient manufacturing process. The stamping press is used to pre-form material as well as pre-pierce the sheet material and add features before it travels through the roll-forming tooling. The stamping of the material while it is in the flat produces a shape with varying depth and geometry across the length of the part. For example, the formed shape could represent the rearward section of a tubular bumper section. The stamping press that combines the stamping of features and forming of varying shapes would have a greater tonnage than a typical pre-pierce press that stamps features into the material. The present stamping press would also have to include stamping dies beyond the required punches and buttons necessary for the stamping of features. Since it is envisioned that material grades above mild steel such as UHSS material would be used to fabricate tubular bumper systems, it is assumed that a one-hit stamping operation must be sufficient to form the shape. Higher grade materials such as UHSS undergo a sizable amount of work hardening which makes the material susceptible to cracking if multiple hits are required to produce the desired final shape. If the stamping process requires a large amount of forming and in turn causes the materials to significantly work harden, it is likely that the stamped shape would be formed in a one-hit operation to avoid any material cracking that might result from multiple stamping of the work hardened material. Aggressive forming via stamping can be done in multiple hits if caution is exercised in speed of forming to keep work hardening at a minimum. A good understanding of the application of design guidelines with respect to bend radii should be exercised when stamping UHSS. It should also be noted that the shape when formed by UHSS material is formed primarily by moving material and not stretching or extruding the material. Materials such as UHSS have high yield and tensile strengths and in turn a low elongation. The low elongation translates directly to low ductility which prohibits the forming through material thinning, i.e., extrusion/drawing.
  • [0023]
    The material that is used to form the shape during the stamping process draws from the width of the coil and not down the length of the coil. This will require that the width of the coil that feeds the stamping press to be oversized to allow for shape forming via stamping and still provide sufficient blank width for the roll-forming operation which is used to finish the shape into a tubular geometry. It is also envisioned that relief slots will need to be introduced at the ends of the formed shape. These slots will assist in forcing material from the edges of the blank width and not down the length of the formed shape. The relief slots also will maintain blank flatness of the unstamped non-deformed areas of the blank before and after the shape is stamped into each part. The forming operation in the press will produce an irregular width blank since material moves across the coil width and will need to be resized before the material can pass through the roll-former. Roll-forming uses the edges of the material to guide the material from pass to pass and to trap the material while bending is being performed at each of the passes. The resizing of the blank width can be done at one or more locations along the manufacturing process. It is contemplated that the irregular blank will be slit immediately after the material leaves the stamping press. The slitting operation may have to be offset where one edge is slit and then used as a reference edge to slit the other edge. The material can also be slit after one or more of the early passes of the roll-former operation. It is contemplated that there may be some advantages to begin some initial forming in the roll-form mill before the irregular blank is resized with a slitting operation and before the roll-forming process is finalized. An additional option is to resize the irregular blank in a station of a multiple station stamping operation. One option would be to have the bed of the stamping press be at least twice the length of a typical part, or the other option would be to use two presses in-line. It is envisioned that the first station of the stamping press or the first press would stamp the relief slots needed at the ends of the part length and form the complete shape. The second station of the press or the second press would stamp features (holes, slots, etc . . . ) into the formed shape and trim the irregular blank to a size appropriate for the roll-forming process which will finish the part into a tubular beam section with varying cross-sectional geometries along the length of the part.
  • [0024]
    Due to the amount of forming that is required for the part, it may be necessary to accumulate material after the press and before the roll-forming process. In a typical pre-pierce operation where features are added to the material while it is flat, the die is configured to travel with the material, (i.e., flying pre-pierce die). Preferably, the forming die would be configured to stamp while moving longitudinally along with the moving material, i.e., flying die configuration. Alternatively, if the shape-forming die is too heavy to move with the material, it may become necessary to accumulate the material after the press and before the roll-forming process. Another option for excessively heavy dies would be to forgo the accumulation of material after the press and use a stop-start process with the roll-forming operation. Roll-form mills can be run successfully and efficiently using a stop-start repetitive motion, but stop-start motion is not a very complimentary process if in-line high frequency induction welding is used. A stop-start process may be more suited for either laser welding or contact welding.
  • [0025]
    The formed shape and either the untrimmed blank or the trimmed blank can now be fed into the roll-forming process. The roll-form tooling would be designed to provide clearance for the formed shape. It is envisioned that only upper roll tooling be used to complete constant part geometry via roll forming, with the stamp formed perimeter of the part would be supported while the rest of the perimeter is roll formed. It is envisioned that the depth of the formed shape and the shape itself would change along the length of the part. The width at some given location and most preferably a location near the transition between the stamped formed section and the roll-formed section would remain constant along the length of the part. This common width is important because it provides a location where the material can be constrained as the remaining material is formed in the roll-forming process. The ability to constrain the formed part as the roll-forming process continues will cease because at some point along the roll-forming process, the individual legs of the part will converge to form a tubular shape. At this point, internal mandrels may be necessary to constrain the shape formed from stamping while the roll-forming process completes the tubular geometry.
  • [0026]
    The individual legs of the part are brought to a point of contact via the roll-forming process and at this point, the two individual legs are welded to form a one-piece tubular part with varying cross sections along the length of the part. Welding can be done in various ways where the type of the welding process used is based on numerous factors, i.e., geometry, desired cycle time, etc. . . . Options for welding may include high frequency induction welding, contact welding, or laser for tubular section. Other welding options such as impulse seam welding (rotary spot), plasma arc welding, or laser may be more suitable for irregular shaped geometries. All of these welding methods are widely used today to produce commercially available tubular and irregular shapes of constant cross section.
  • [0027]
    An automotive bumper beam typically requires some degree of curvature which is complimentary to vehicle styling. As styling changes and becomes more aggressive, a bumper beam with multiple radii becomes easier to package in the available envelope. Imparting of multiple radii in a bumper beam is referred to as a compound swept bumper. This ability to produce compound swept bumper beams in-line and during the manufacturing process can be accomplished with an apparatus that uses servos, is driven, and is computer controlled. This type of apparatus allows for real time adjustment of a bending roller which is used to impart curvature into the beam. Because of the real time adjustment of the bending roller, multiple radii can be imparted at given locations along the length of the beam. The last in-line operation is to cut the beam section to length. The cutoff operation can be done in various ways. The most common method of cutting bumper beams to length is to use a flying cutoff apparatus. A flying cutoff will travel with the part and perform the cut-off operation as the part is moving at line speed. A typical flying cut-off apparatus would include part clamping steel forms, air or hydraulic cylinders, and shearing blade.
  • [0028]
    The uniqueness of the present invention is the ability to produce a one-piece roll-formed structural beam or an open section roll-formed structural beam that has varying cross section along the length of the part. The ability to change the cross section along the length of the beam is achieved by the use of a forming die and a stamping press positioned upstream and in-line with the roll-forming process. The innovative design of the roll tooling allows the stamped pre-formed shape to move its coplanar flat edge sections through the individual roll-forming passes freely without distortion or shape change of its now-stamp-formed center section. Each pass of the roll-forming process continues to form the material of the edge sections into a final shape that incorporates the stamped form. Current roll-forming processes utilize relatively-lower-force, fast-acting stamping presses before the roll-forming process, but these presses are used to piece and cut features such as holes, slots, etc. into the material while it is flat and before roll-forming is used to shape the part. The present invention increases the tonnage of the upstream stamping press and incorporates forming dies into the stamping press. The stamping press or presses are used to form the steel with a shape that when closed in geometry with the use of roll-forming, produces a tubular beam section with varying cross-sectionals along the length of the part. The same concept can be applied to open sections where the stamping operation imparts an irregular shape across the length of the part and the roll-forming operations process the rest of the part shape. The varying of cross sections along the length of the part provides the opportunity to efficiently use material and geometry to achieve performance requirements. The result is a weight and performance optimized structural member that is produced in a continuous cost-effective manufacturing process.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 1 is a flow chart showing a process embodying the present invention, and FIG. 1A shows a corresponding apparatus. As noted, the process starts with a step 30 (FIG. 1) where a coiled sheet 31 (FIG. 1A) is unrolled and the uncoiled strip/sheet 32 is fed forward. The process proceeds to a step 33 to pre-pierce and shape form the sheet 32 through the use of a stamping press 34 that actuates dies 35 and 36 together against the sheet 32. The press 34 and/or dies 35 and 36 preferably are movable laterally along with the sheet 32 during the stamping process and also are relatively fast-acting. Alternatively, the roll-forming operation can be slowed or stopped during the stamping operation. The dies 35 and 36 are configured and designed to stamp the sheet material, primarily pulling and moving material from a width direction and not from a longitudinal direction of the sheet 32. It is noted that a preferred material is ultra high strength steel (UHSS), which can be bent but basically not drawn or stretched. Accordingly, pulling and moving material laterally (rather than longitudinally) is a significant concept when USHH material is used. Slits in the sheet at each end of a (future) bumper section can be used to reduce longitudinal movement of sheet material during the three-dimensional deformation process of step 33.
  • [0030]
    The process proceeds in a step 38 through slitter 39 that slits/cuts edges of the formed sheet 32 to a particular known width dimension, with edge portions of the sheet 32 still in a coplanar flat condition.
  • [0031]
    The process then proceeds in a step 41 through a roll-forming operation, as illustrated by the roll mill 42 having roll-forming stations 43-48′. The particular illustrated roll mill 42 has rolls constructed to form the sheet into a tubular shape (see FIG. 7) which is welded in process step 50 at abutting edges 51, 52 (FIG. 8) and welded at location 82 in a welding station 53 (FIG. 1A). Where necessary or desirable, an internal mandrel can be positioned upstream or downstream to help maintain cross sectional shape or to provide support for bending or forming through the roll forming operation. For example, the internal mandrel can be anchored at location 54 and an anchoring tie-bar or cord can extend downstream (or upstream) to provide mandrel support. Due to the stamping operation, the middle or lower portion of the cross section changes shape longitudinally and laterally, causing the final cross section of the final beam 72 to vary in a depth dimension and shape along its length (see FIGS. 3-6).
  • [0032]
    The process then proceeds in a step 60 where the continuous welded tubular beam 61 is longitudinally swept as it moves through stabilizing/motivating rolls 49 and a sweep station 62 with adjustable external mandrels 63 and with (if needed) internal mandrels 64. Thereafter, the continuous beam 61 is cut to length in step 70 by a cut-off apparatus 71 into individual beams 72 useful as impact reinforcement bumper beams on a vehicle. The entire process is controlled by a controller for optimal, coordinated, and simultaneous operation.
  • [0033]
    Notably, one overall apparatus and process of rolling, welding, and sweeping a tubular beam of a constant cross section is shown and described in Sturrus U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,092,512 and 5,454,504, and an exemplary cut-off device is shown in Heinz U.S. Pat. No. 5,305,625. The reader is referred to these disclosures if additional detail about those processes are desired. Also, their teachings are incorporated herein in their entirety for the purpose of fully disclosing and teaching the present invention. The present concepts can be used with a power adjusted variable sweep station, such as those known in the art.
  • [0034]
    FIG. 2 is a side view of a vehicle bumper beam embodying the present invention as it comes off the cut-off apparatus 71.
  • [0035]
    FIGS. 3-6 are cross sections taken through FIG. 2. Notably, these cross sections are similar to cross sections taken through similar locations in the continuous beam 61 (see FIG. 7) prior to the step of sweeping the beam 61.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 7 is a side view of the vehicle bumper beam after being roll-formed but prior to being longitudinally swept. Notably, the top “half” section of the beam is linear and constant in cross section (compare the upper portion of FIGS. 3-6 and also see FIG. 8), while the bottom “half” section of the beam is deformed into different three-dimensional changing longitudinal shapes (compare the FIGS. 3-6). It is contemplated that various features can be incorporated into the beams 72. For example, the angled surfaces 73 (FIG. 2) become coplanar and aligned mounting surfaces 74 when the beam 61 is swept to become individual beams 72. The coplanar mounting surfaces 74 are adapted to be attached to a front of vehicle frame rails, such as by attachment bolts or fasteners, and can include pre-pierced holes for the attachment bolts and fasteners.
  • [0037]
    FIG. 8 is an end view of the beam of FIG. 7 moving through an exemplary roll-forming station, the view showing the beam 61 engaged by bottom forming roll 80 and side containment rolls 81. A weld joint 82 found at station 53 is shown at abutting edges 51 and 52. Sequential formation of the top “wings” or side flanges 84 of the sheet are illustrated by the positions 85-88. It is contemplated that the bottom forming roll 80 and/or side constraint roll 81 can also be fully or partially replaced with stationary guide blocks and/or roll(s). In particular, I envision a modification where only top roll form tooling is used, and the bottom is braced with either blocks, or (non-forming) rolls, or a combination of blocks and rolls.
  • [0038]
    It is contemplated that the present process can be used to manufacture sophisticated beams with non-uniform cross section along their length, allowing the beams to be “customized” and optimized for various applications, such as for interior cross car structural beam, frame components, exterior cross car structural beams, roof bows, windshield header, rocker panels/sills, door beams, engine cradles, and instrument panel supports. It is contemplated that the present concept would be more cost competitive and have a more efficient/higher through-put than hydro-forming processes and also provide design flexibility over stamping processes.
  • Modification
  • [0039]
    A flow chart (FIG. 9) and apparatus (FIG. 9A) are illustrated similar to FIGS. 1 and 1A respectively, but modified and adapted for hot stamping ahead of the roll forming portion of the machine. Specifically, uncoiled sheet material 32 capable of being hot stamped and quenched for high material strength is heated to a temperature of at least about 850° C. (and preferably to about 880° C. to 950° C., depending on material chemistry) in a step (100) by heaters 101. The duration of the heating process can be varied, depending on the BTU capability of the heaters, and depending on whether the process is a stop-start roll forming process or a continuous process. A length of the heaters is extended as necessary to match a speed of the machine/process. The heaters 101 are positioned immediately prior to the step 33 of piercing and shaping of the sheet 32, at a location adjacent and upstream of the stamping press 34. The dies 35/36 are cooled by a coolant system 103 and/or water/coolant is applied by a quenching system 103 to the formed sheet while the formed sheet is still between the dies 35/36 or as the formed sheet exits the dies 35/36. The timing of cooling is critical. Cooling must be done before the material temperature drops unacceptably. Typically, the quenching is done during or within seconds of the forming operation, such as by cooled dies and/or coolant applied to the steel while compressed between the dies.
  • [0040]
    A typical steel suitable for the hot stamping process is Usinor pre-coated USIBOR 1500. The material as received and formed in the press 34 is preferably at a yield strength greater than 370 MPa, preferably at a tensile strength greater than 550 MPA, and has an elongation of greater than 14%. The properties of the “as-received” USIBOR 1500 are very suitable for press forming, because the material is able to be drawn (i.e. “stretched” or extruded such that a thickness of the material is reduced). At the same time, the post quench properties of this material are significantly higher; with a yield in the range of 1000 MPa, a tensile strength in the range of 1500 MPa, and an elongation in the range of 5%. These higher material properties are well-suited for energy absorption, improved part performance in crashworthiness, and provide an excellent strength to weight ratio. By using this material, it is possible to make deeper deformations in the sheet in the stamping process without losing as much width in the final sheet (i.e. prior to the step of slitting 38 in slitter 39) . . . thus reducing material waste. Also, it is noted that ultra high strength steels work harden when bent, thus limiting the ability to bend them more than once. This problem is avoided by the hot stamping process, since the material is able to be drawn and does not have the same problems associated with rapid work hardening of the sheet material. By hot stamping mild steel material, there are more options in how to move material in the stamping die, thus facilitating the stamping process and allowing deeper sections to be drawn/formed into the sheet material. For example, 30% to 50% deeper sections can be drawn into the steel sheet.
  • [0041]
    The uniqueness of the present concept includes the ability to combine the benefits of two very different manufacturing processes to produce a more competitive part. Benefits include the ability to change cross section along the length of a part. Higher part strength and reduced part weight represent benefits that are gained when material properties are increased and cross sections are tubular. The stamping process either cold stamping or hot stamping has the ability to vary shape across the part length. The hot stamped process has the added ability to work with as received mild steel which is suitable for forming and then transform the material during the processing into a material with extremely high properties. This transformation is achieved after the quenching of the heated and formed steel. This avoids the problems associated with work-hardening which can occur when high strength materials are stamped . . . since the sheet material becomes high strength only when quenched after the stamping operation. In the present process, roll forming is used to receive the stamped sheet and finish the forming of the part. The gradual forming stages associated with the roll forming process are capable of forming materials of very high strength level, including high strength and ultra high strength steels. This makes roll forming a desirable method for final forming of open or tubular pressed forms that are formed hot in a stamping press.
  • [0042]
    The hot stamped process provides greater capability over cold stamping since forming is done with one material grade/strength and the final part is at another higher grade/strength. Material as received for the hot stamping processes is generally classified as mild steel and possesses properties very suitable for stamp forming. The hot steel is formed and then quenched in the die (or immediately quickly thereafter), which produces a martensitic grain structure and material properties more common to martensitic steels with tensile strengths greater than 1500 MPa.
  • [0043]
    It is to be understood that variations and modifications can be made on the aforementioned structure without departing from the concepts of the present invention, and further it is to be understood that such concepts are intended to be covered by the following claims unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1424359 *15 Sep 19191 Aug 1922Badger Mfg CorpBumper bar
US1663424 *30 Sep 192720 Mar 1928Huston TaylorVehicle impact bar
US1966453 *30 Jan 192517 Jul 1934Lyon George AlbertProcess of making automobile buffers and similar articles
US2077454 *25 Jul 193320 Apr 1937Midland Steel Prod CoAutomobile chassis member and method of making same
US3918283 *26 Apr 197411 Nov 1975Interstate Products IncTubular articles and method of making same
US4006617 *24 Nov 19758 Feb 1977The Boeing CompanyMethod and apparatus for roll forming tapered structural members
US4020603 *2 Oct 19753 May 1977Fmc CorporationRoof for railway car
US4076166 *21 Jan 197728 Feb 1978Fmc CorporationRoof for railway car and method of making same
US4142663 *28 Apr 19776 Mar 1979Kaiser Steel CorporationApparatus and method for making perforated tube
US4326398 *12 Dec 197927 Apr 1982VallourecApparatus to equalize in height, by hammering, the line of welding of longitudinally welded tubes
US4433565 *11 May 198128 Feb 1984Theodor Wuppermann GmbhMethod of and apparatus for the manufacturing of metal profile members, especially steel profile members
US4476703 *21 Mar 198416 Oct 1984Kaiser Steel (Delaware), Inc.Edge preforming of metal plate
US4660754 *14 Mar 198628 Apr 1987Allied Tube & Conduit CorporationProcess of forming welded tubing
US4866967 *17 Nov 198819 Sep 1989Sundwiger Eisenhutte, Maschinenfabrik Grah & Co.Apparatus for the stretch levelling and slitting of metal strip
US5031440 *13 Feb 199016 Jul 1991Enami Seiki Mfg., Co. Ltd.Apparatus for forming long plate member
US5080472 *21 Jul 198914 Jan 1992Ioptex Research Inc.Multifocal optical lens
US5104026 *14 Jan 199114 Apr 1992Shape CorporationApparatus for roll-forming an automotive bumper
US5306058 *26 Mar 199026 Apr 1994Shape CorporationTubular roll-formed automotive bumper
US5474227 *25 Apr 199412 Dec 1995The Idod TrustMethod of forming seamed metal tube
US5580120 *23 Feb 19953 Dec 1996Mascotech Tubular Products, Inc.Vehicle door intrusion beam
US5669992 *30 Jan 199623 Sep 1997Bronsema; BrandBumper beam making process
US5732874 *8 Mar 199531 Mar 1998The Idod TrustMethod of forming seamed metal tube
US5756167 *26 Feb 199626 May 1998Hashimoto Forming Industry Co., Ltd.Rigid elongated member for use in vehicles and producing method and apparatus therefor
US5785376 *24 Apr 199628 Jul 1998Mascotech Tubular Products, Inc.Vehicle door beam
US5829666 *19 Nov 19963 Nov 1998Aisin Seiki Kabushiki KaishaManufacturing method of tubular bumper reinforcement member
US5934544 *9 Apr 199810 Aug 1999Hyundai Motor CorporationApparatus and method for making an automotive bumper beam
US6349521 *18 Jun 199926 Feb 2002Shape CorporationVehicle bumper beam with non-uniform cross section
US6360441 *15 Sep 199926 Mar 2002Cosma International Inc.Bumper beam assembly and method
US6386011 *18 Jan 200114 May 2002Tishken Products Co.Adjustable cut off apparatus for elongated articles having varying degrees of sweep
US6454884 *6 Feb 200124 Sep 2002Pullman Industries, Inc.Method of manufacturing a vehicle structural beam
US6513243 *14 Jun 20014 Feb 2003Iveco Fiat S.P.A.Method of producing front axles for industrial vehicles
US6793743 *22 Jul 200221 Sep 2004Pullman Industries, Inc.Vehicle structural beam and method of manufacture
US6813920 *11 Jun 20039 Nov 2004Asteer Co., Ltd.Method for producing a bumper reinforcement
US7197824 *6 Jul 20053 Apr 2007Trim Trends, Co., LlcCross member for vehicle bumper bar and method for making same
US20020040525 *12 Dec 200111 Apr 2002Cosma International Inc.Bumper beam assembly and method
US20020174921 *22 Jul 200228 Nov 2002Mcnulty Frank G.Vehicle structural beam and method of manufacture
US20040123462 *23 Sep 20031 Jul 2004Volvo Lastvagnar AbHollow construction element
US20050082346 *14 Sep 200421 Apr 2005Pullman Industries, Inc.Vehicle structural beam and method of manufacture
US20060075636 *30 Nov 200513 Apr 2006Bladow Jeffrey LMethod for producing a bumper exhibiting a crushed profile
US20070095001 *11 Jan 20063 May 2007Shape CorporationContinuous process of roll-forming pre-stamped varying shapes
USRE35378 *14 Oct 199419 Nov 1996The Idod TrustMethod of forming seamed metal tube
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7788958 *6 Apr 20077 Sep 2010Shape CorporationRoll former with aligned hydraulic former
US78667167 Apr 200911 Jan 2011Flex-N-Gate CorporationEnergy absorber for vehicle
US815161429 May 200810 Apr 2012Shape Corp.Variable adjustable cutoff device for roll formers
US8307685 *7 Apr 200913 Nov 2012Shape Corp.Multi-directionally swept beam, roll former, and method
US833309531 Aug 201018 Dec 2012Shape Corp.Roll former with three-dimensional sweep unit
US8590353 *4 Dec 200826 Nov 2013Voestalpine Krems GmbhProcess for producing shaped components from high-strength and ultra high-strength steels
US8716624 *11 Oct 20136 May 2014Shape Corp.Method for forming tubular beam with center leg
US876343731 Oct 20121 Jul 2014Shape Corp.Roll former with three-dimensional sweep unit
US8872060 *27 Feb 201328 Oct 2014Shape Corp.Apparatus for making tubular beam with center leg
US9227236 *19 Mar 20085 Jan 2016Universität DortmundMethod and device for profile bending
US966978622 Sep 20146 Jun 2017Shape Corp.Tubular beam with center leg and method for forming the same
US20060290166 *26 Jun 200628 Dec 2006Benteler Automobiltechnik GmbhDoor structure for a motor vehicle
US20080141749 *6 Apr 200719 Jun 2008Shape CorporationRoll former with aligned hydraulic former
US20090100889 *29 May 200823 Apr 2009Shape CorporationVariable adjustable cutoff device for roll formers
US20090255310 *7 Apr 200915 Oct 2009Heinz Richard DMulti-directionally swept beam, roll former, and method
US20100116012 *19 Mar 200813 May 2010Universitat DortmundMethod and device for profile bending
US20110003113 *4 Dec 20086 Jan 2011Voestalpine Krems GmbhProcess for producing shaped components from high-strength and ultra high-strength steels
US20110067472 *31 Aug 201024 Mar 2011Heinz Richard DRoll Former With Three-Dimensional Sweep Unit
US20120131974 *12 Dec 200831 May 2012Allied Tube & Conduit CorporationArching metallic profiles in continous in-line process
US20130168360 *27 Feb 20134 Jul 2013Shape Corp.Apparatus for making tubular beam with center leg
US20140033791 *11 Oct 20136 Feb 2014Shape Corp.Method for forming tubular beam with center leg
US20170183757 *16 Mar 201729 Jun 2017Ms Autotech Co., Ltd.Hot stamping method for manufacturing vehicle body parts
CN103221266A *9 Sep 201124 Jul 2013形状集团Tubular beam with single center leg
CN104148539A *9 Sep 201119 Nov 2014形状集团Method for rolling multitube reinforcing beam of vehicle and rolling machine
CN105478488A *19 Jan 201613 Apr 2016北新集团建材股份有限公司Light steel keel rolling machine equipment
EP2050520A3 *14 Oct 200819 Aug 2009Shape CorporationVariable adjustable cutoff device for roll formers
EP2234738A1 *12 Dec 20086 Oct 2010Allied Tube & Conduit CorporationArching metallic profiles in continuous in-line process
EP2234738A4 *12 Dec 200818 Sep 2013Allied Tube & Conduit CorpArching metallic profiles in continuous in-line process
WO2011034752A3 *7 Sep 201021 Jul 2011Shape Corp.Roll former with three-dimensional sweep unit and method
WO2012039962A3 *9 Sep 201114 Jun 2012Shape Corp.Tubular beam with single center leg
WO2013143512A1 *25 Mar 20123 Oct 2013Technische Universität DortmundProcess and apparatus for the incremental bending of profile tubes, in particular of profile tubes having cross sections which vary over the longitudinal axis
Classifications
U.S. Classification72/177
International ClassificationB21B15/00
Cooperative ClassificationB21C37/185, B60R19/18, E04C2003/0439, B21C37/155, B60R2019/1826, B21C37/0815, B21C37/083, E04C3/07, B21D5/12, B21C37/0803
European ClassificationB21D5/12, B60R19/18, E04C3/07, B21C37/08E, B21C37/18B, B21C37/083, B21C37/15E, B21C37/08H
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
25 May 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: SHAPE CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HEATHERINGTON, DAVID W.;REEL/FRAME:017929/0471
Effective date: 20060522