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The Steelville Story: Tool Manufacturing Time Cut in Half

Situation

steelville aluminum partSteelville Manufacturing Co., located in Steelville, Missouri, USA, is an aerospace parts supplier specializing in milling, turning, waterjet cutting and metal forming. Founded in 1959, Steelville had been using traditional forming methods for decades, as they supplied parts to OEM's including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky. These methods included press brake forming, forming with the use of solid blocks of rubber and forming with matched, male/female die sets.

Steelville Manufacturing Co. wanted a modern forming solution that would give them net shape forming capability and reduced hand-finishing work. The engineering and machining time required for the production of their traditional, male/female die sets was significant, and the new forming solution needed to reduce Steelville's investment in terms of both engineering time and machining hours.

Solution

Steelville Manufacturing's Triform 24-5BDBeckwood helped evaluate Steelville's needs and recommended a Triform Sheet Hydroforming, 5000 PSI Fluid Cell Model, which features a 24 inch forming area. The new 24-5BD Triform accommodates the vast majority of Steelville's aerospace parts, yet the machine itself is compact enough to require minimal floor space. Operation of the press is straightforward, with new operators gaining machine fluency in a matter of minutes.

The nature of the Triform process results in tool changes that literally take seconds, and the tooling cost itself is greatly decreased over traditional forming processes due to the flexible bladder acting as a universal die half.

Results

3D part with poured epoxy fillerWithin the first two weeks of having the 24-5BD press on their floor, Steelville has already transferred more than 10 parts to the Triform.

The press has also allowed them to utilize another modern manufacturing process for the creation of formed aerospace parts: 3D printing. Steelville had been an early adopter to the application of 3D printed tools for use within the metal forming process. By using additive manufactured tools, in combination with the Triform Sheet Hydroforming press, Steelville can bypass their machining centers all-together. This collaboration has dramatically shortened the turnaround time for new part production, while driving down Steelville's overall cost per part.

"We had been forming parts for years which we now know were tailor-made for the Triform," said Joseph Dust, Steelville engineer in charge of the Triform's implementation. "The addition of the 24-5BD definitely makes forming those parts much easier. With the Triform, the overall time required for the completion of our tools has been cut in half," he added.

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