On the Challenges and Prospects of the Superplastic Forming Process
Superplastic forming has already been proven as a practical solution for manufacturing lightweight components in niche applications such as the aerospace and luxury cars industries. The demand to produce such components will continue with the limited nature of the energy resources available today. Therefore, superplastic materials are expected to stay as potential candidates in such applications. In addition, superplastic forming offers many unique advantages over conventional forming techniques including greater design flexibility, relatively low tooling cost, and no spring back. However, the full potential of the process has not yet been fulfilled due to concerns about the nonuniformity of the produced parts thickness profiles and the need for heating to achieve the superplastic properties of the material. In this paper the authors address the main challenges that hinder the wide spread of the process. It is of great practical importance, for example, to develop accurate simulations of the superplastic forming process. Such simulations are required for identifying the optimum process parameters for high quality components. The results of any such simulations or experimental investigations should be translated into simple and clear industrial guidelines. In addition, they discuss the current trends and the prospects of this process.