Press Room

Press Room

Metal Flow Corporation Wins Product Development Award

Monday, November 6, 2017

For more information, please contact Christie Carmigiano

CLEVELAND, OH¾November 6, 2017¾Metal Flow Corporation, Holland, MI, has received the 2017 Ulbrich Award for Excellence in Product Development, as part of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Awards of Excellence in Metalforming, for developing a deep-draw-stamping alternative to a costlier machining process when producing automobile fuel-system assemblies.  The company is a contract manufacturer specializing in deep-drawn automotive solutions.

Metal Flow identified an opportunity in the fuel-system industry, specifically related to the trend of higher pressure gasoline-direct-inject (GDI) applications.  GDI technology is present on nearly 85 percent of light-vehicle gasoline power plants globally.

A GDI fuel rail typically is a brazed assembly constructed out of multiple stainless-steel components.  This assembly delivers high-pressure fuel to the injectors.  Each injector requires a tight tolerance cavity, which interfaces with the injector seal and must have a calibrated surface finish with the interface diameter controlled statistically to 50 microns.

Historically, the cavity or injector cup in GDI rail systems was a machined component.  Metal Flow began development of a process that would allow customers to capture the cost benefits of a deep-drawn solution while delivering the features required by the GDI rail design.  This proprietary deep-draw, anneal and burnish process utilizes two high-speed stamping operations with an intermediate anneal process to yield a finished component.  Metal Flow discovered that without the intermediate anneal process the dimensional creep during the final braze process on a simple deep-drawn component created final assembly issues at its customer.  A collateral benefit of the high-speed burnish step was superior surface finish and consistent cavity definition, enhancing the dimensional integrity of the deep-drawn solution. 

Metal Flow’s solution, versus a machined solution, delivered a staggering $0.70 of savings per injector cup.  Depending on the engine/rail configuration (in-line 4, V6 or V8), the savings per engine ranges from $3 to $5. Along with delivering these quantifiable savings on the piece-price level, the deep-drawn solution, by nature of the process, also eliminates the porosity-failure mode, which is typical in a machined solution.  Metal Flow currently supplies multiple configurations of these injector cups with annual volumes of greater than 5,000,000 pieces.

The Product Development Award is one of nine Awards of Excellence in Metalforming presented annually by PMA.  Sponsored by Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals, Inc., North Haven, CT, it acknowledges a manufacturing company that demonstrates outstanding innovation in developing and manufacturing a product that best uses metal in place of a nonmetal competitive material, or that develops a product using flat-rolled material that was previously manufactured using more costly manufacturing processes.  

PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $137-billion metalforming industry of North America—the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes. Its nearly 800 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry. PMA leads innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability through advocacy, networking, statistics, the PMA Educational Foundation, FABTECH and METALFORM Mexico tradeshows, and MetalForming, Fabricating Product News and 3D Metal Printing magazines.