Flowforming Specialist Offers Unique Combination of Metal Forming Processes

PMF Industries in growth mode, looking to hire new talent

October 13, 2020

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.—Many aerospace engineers have been able to solve their critical metal-forming requirements with flowforming, a cold-extrusion process known for its design flexibility and economical method of producing high-precision, rotationally symmetrical, hollow parts. But engineers in aerospace and numerous other industries are finding that they can benefit even more by taking flowforming “to the next level,” a strategy advocated by PMF Industries.

PMF Industries, Inc. (/), a precision metal forming firm in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, serves a variety of industries, such as aerospace, military, energy, filtration, and food processing equipment. The company also serves the medical, micro-electronics, pharmaceutical, pulp and paper industries.

Ken Healy, vice president and director of engineering for PMF Industries, said in an emailed response that PMF’s biggest strength is its unique combination of processes under one roof. While some companies do deep drawing, and others do flowforming, Healy said PMF is able to combine these processes in house to manufacture components that no one else can.

“Our customers come to PMF because they know that we can develop a process that will result in superior quality, while also saving them money,” he said. “Many times, we are able to manufacture components from sheet or plate material that our customers, historically, have had manufactured from forgings or castings. By using our flowforming process, we are able to eliminate welds in components that have varying wall thicknesses throughout the profile of the part.”

The company’s skills and experience in flowforming metals that are difficult to form, such as Inconel 625 and T-304 stainless steel, have enabled it to manufacture components for some of the world’s leading companies in fields like aerospace, energy, and filtration.

“Typically, in our flowforming capabilities, we process parts with a wall thickness tolerance of ±0.005 and a diameter tolerance of ±0.010,” Healy said. “In some cases, PMF is able to hold tolerances closer than typical, depending upon material and geometry of the part.”

In addition to flowforming, PMF offers a multitude of what it calls “concept-to-completion” custom manufacturing processes. These processes include 6,000-watt laser cutting, deep drawing with hydraulic presses, hydroforming, hot- and cold-form spinning, machining, heat treating, and electrical discharge machining (EDM). But the company also provides electropolishing, passivation, welding, and non-destructive testing services, among others.

PMF is in growth mode, Healy said, and has been continuously adding to its facility since 1965. The firm’s most recent addition was a 24,000-square-foot facility that was designed and built to accommodate its mechanical and electro-finishing processes. PMF employs about 100 team members at it 150,000-square-foot facility, located on 10 acres.

“We are always looking to hire new talent, as well as expanding our machining department and purchasing additional flowforming machines and hydraulic presses,” Healy said.

One of the firm’s aerospace customers came to PMF with a static seal that had, until then, been machined from a forging. By applying multiple processes, including flowforming, PMF was able to manufacture the part from sheet material, reducing the amount of material waste while maintaining superior quality, Healy said.

“We were able to provide our customer with a completed part, including machining, for one-third of what they were paying for the raw forging,” he said.

One of the challenges was designing a manufacturing process that was able to provide all the physical dimensional requirements of the part, while still using standard sheet material. PMF needed to prove out the modified design through a series of mechanical testing requirements to ensure that the flowform-processed part would achieve the same structural integrity as the forged part.

“Through our manufacturing capabilities, engineering experience, and dedicated team, we were able to work with the customer to meet all the requirements, save cost, and meet the customer’s production schedule,” Healy said.

Processes used by PMF to manufacture the part included laser cutting, flowforming, press forming, heat treating and brazing, machining, and electrical discharge machining (EDM).

PMF is AS9100 Rev D, ISO 9001:2015 certified. The company also has Nadcap certifications in heat treating, welding, non-destructive testing (FPI) and non-conventional machining (EDM).

This is a reprint from the October issue of Design-2-Part magazine

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