National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

Split Forming

Split forming puts AFRC in pole position to reduce automotive emissions


As industry looks to embrace net-zero, automotive manufacturers are eager to find more efficient manufacturing process routes to reduce emissions and input material weight.

Alloy wheels, traditionally manufactured through casting or multi-stage forging and flow forming, can be energy intensive and time-consuming to produce, with significant heat and machining required.

The University of Strathclyde's Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) demonstrated the potential of hybrid split forming and flow forming to produce a lower carbon footprint, near-net shape alloy wheel for the automotive industry.

What did the AFRC do?

The AFRC's Forging and Incremental Technologies team researched suitable alloy wheel geometries found in typical cars. This work was supported by the University of Strathclyde's Motorsport team (USM)

Computer aided design (CAD) modelling of the demonstrator component was carried out before the team designed bespoke forming tooling.

Following this, the team undertook a series of forming trials and successfully formed the component from a 15mm plate at ambient temperature. The starting blank is split before being flow formed in two directions to create the final wheel profile with a thickness of 3mm.

May Hicks, Manufacturing Engineer, Advanced Forming Research Centre said:

This project provided a  unique opportunity to develop design capability for a novel manufacturing route and produce impactful demonstration hardware.

"The combined split and flow forming method demonstrates a significant opportunity to advance near-net-shape manufacturing within automotive and other sectoral applications.


Industry impact

The alloy wheel component was formed in a cycle time of three minutes, compared to 10-30 minutes for the conventional process.

No heating was required, which could yield significant energy savings, whilst eliminating joining methods substantially reduces machining requirements.

The AFRC is now engaging in dialogue with leading automotive manufacturers interested in embracing split and flow forming within their operations.