Tube fabrication is also known as pipe fabrication, and involves utilizing different techniques to bend, shape, enlarge, and cut down tubes into an assortment of products. Tubing can be found in numerous applications and can perform functions such as support, containment, protection, and transportation. Tube fabrication plays an important role in the overall process of pipe and tube manufacturing, although tube fabricators are typically not involved in making the tubes from raw metal material.
Equipment such as swaging machines, mold bending, hydraulic tube benders, and CNC mandrel bending machines are used extensively by trained engineers in the processes of tube cutting, flaring, swaging, and bending. Each of these processes are applied to ensure the fortitude of the tubing and the prevention of material diffusion.
Tubing is fabricated using a multitude of metals such as bronze, copper, aluminum, or other metal alloys. These tubes can vary in length and diameter. Because these materials can vary in density, strength, and hardness, the selection of the tube’s size and diameter depends greatly on the application and location for which the tube will be used. Industries such as aerospace, industrial, automotive require intricate tube fabrication for their products. These products can include bicycle frames, tent frames, handrails, gym equipment, and patio furniture.Read More…
The mandrel bent tubing process is commonly used in the industrial and manufacturing industries in the production of exhaust pipes, hydraulic tubes, heat exchangers, and fuel lines for motor vehicles. In choosing a suitable tube fabrication service, one must consider the manufacturer’s production capabilities and the characteristics of the desired tubing.
There are certain skills and types of machinery required to manufacture metal tubes, depending on the desired tube’s physical properties and its ultimate function. Methods of cutting a tube include drilling, or punching holes, or creating notches. Since notching and hole punching require the utmost precision, a CNC machine is ideal to carry out these processes. In cutting a tube, a blade fully rotates around the tube’s interior or exterior circumference.
The tube may have to be polished or sanded to eliminate any imperfections the cutting process may leave behind. If the tube needs to be expanded, cold forming or swaging may be applied to alter its diameter. The end of the tube may be flared to enable it to connect securely to another tube. In the process of swaging, high pressure is used to creates sections of thin wall within the tube. Swaging is critical if a tube must fit within an additional tube to ensure a continuous and reliable flow and adjustment system.
Swaged tubing can be found in products such as telescoping tubes in tripods, stands, and adjustable furniture. Because of the meticulous nature of the process, swaging should only be performed by qualified personnel.
In pipe bending, either manual, automated, or semi-automated equipment is utilized to clamp a length of tubing down or feed it through a roller so it takes on the shape of a simple curve or a die. CNC tube bending machines are a popular choice of equipment in carrying out this process. They are powered by hydraulics and are capable of forming tubes into coiled and zigzagged shapes. Tube rolling is an additional process in which tubular components are produced through heat-curing materials wrapped around a circular mandrel, which is later removed.
Although these processes may be carried out manually, the process time will be longer and much less precise. If a mold, or a mandrel, is not utilized, it runs the risk of the inside of the tubes curve wrinkling or forming other imperfections in the pipe’s interior. Should this happen, it will negatively affect the flow capacity of the tubing.
There are some applications that do not require high performance or as many aesthetic aspects, and can thus afford imperfections and wrinkles in tubes. However, products such as decorative items, mufflers, and hydraulic pipes cannot have any blockage in their tubing. Mandrel bending, swaging, and flaring are commonly used in pipes for hydraulic and flow applications such as plumbing.
A common example is pipe elbows. Mandrels and sand are key components in helping a tube to retain its interior shape as it is bent. Mandrels are usually shaped like balls, linked ball bearings, or a rod with a rounded tip. Plug mandrels, or straight mandrels, are used on normal bends, while the ball bearing mandrels are used for bends that require more precision. Mandrels can be either placed inside a tube, or a pre-bent tube can be packed with sand before undergoing the process.