Vacuum moulding of a superplastic in two dimensions

S J Chapman, A D Fitt & G C PULOS

A mathematical model is proposed for the process of vacuum superplastic forming. The model exploits the fact that in most industrial applications the sheet aspect ratio (thickness/sheet width) is small. After an initial consideration of some of the more general properties and the literature of superplastic materials, the elastic/plastic deformation of an internally-inflated thin-walled cylinder is examined. Plates of arbitrary geometry are then considered. A quasisteady model in which the sheet moves through a sequence of steady states is developed. Some simplified closed-form solutions are examined, but for general cases a system of nonlinear partial differential equations must be solved numerically. An efficient and accurate semi-explicit numerical scheme is proposed and a simplified stability analysis is presented; the method is then used to compute properties of superplastic vacuum moulded sheets in a number of practically motivated cases.