Tube and Pipe Fabrication Articles

The tube and pipe fabrication technology area covers sawing (band, circular, and friction) and other cutting processes, such as abrasive, flame, laser, oxyfuel, plasma, and waterjet. It also discusses forming processes, including bending and end forming. Finally, it includes a handful of miscellaneous processes, such as trimming, beveling, finning, grooving, threading, and spinning.

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Tube bending image

The right stuff

September 30, 2008

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The best material for a tube bending tool is the most cost-effective in terms of the ratio of tool life to tool cost. A cost-effective tool tends to wear out rather than break at the end of its service life. This article addresses choosing the optimal material for a rotary die tube bending machine's full toolkit.

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BR Sculpture Company

Reflections on a perfectly symmetric ellipse

September 16, 2008

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Sculptor and fabricator Brett Richards of BR Sculpture, Chicago, got a contract to make a frame for an oval mirror—a length of square tubing bent to a perfect ellipse. Not knowing too much about the vagaries of bending tube, he figured he'd spend a few thousand dollars on a simple bender. After searching for months, he happened to see an elliptical shape made from square tubing in a vendor's booth at FABTECH.

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Employees of The Wrench”

Two fabricators are better than one

August 26, 2008

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Motorcycle popularity has grown substantially in recent years, and many small shops that produce custom-made and limited-production motorcycles have sprung up. Two such shop owners, Brad Ruel of The Wrench and Mark Evans of Diablo Chop Shop, took it one step further and joined forces to combine their experience in designing and manufacturing semifinished (kit) motorcycles, completed bikes, and a substantial line of aftermarket parts.

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Push pointed tubes

Tube prep for the drawing step

August 12, 2008

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Pointing, sometimes called tagging or swaging, is a process that reduces a tube's end to permit it to pass through a draw die for a drawing operation. After the tube end goes through the draw die, gripper jaws converge on the point to begin the draw operation. Push pointing is accomplished by gripping a tube and advancing pointing dies over the end, resulting in a reduced end diameter.

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Ski Jump Whistler Nordic Center

Gold medal fabrication for Olympic ski jump

July 29, 2008

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Dynamic Structures has fabricated huge structures across North America. But this project--two ski jumps for the Vancouver 2010 games--was different.

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Bobsledder in action

Cool (pipe) runnings

July 29, 2008

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A pipe fabricator finds a new way to fabricate and assemble a bobsled run for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

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CAD system CNC tube bending

From the CAD station to the production floor

July 15, 2008

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Conventional tube bending data, regardless of format, is entered manually and therefore susceptible to errors. A modern approach involves using a CAD system to generate a STEP file, which the CAD program exports directly to the bending machine. This method is fast and eliminates errors. The drawback is that such a system requires additional database management efforts.

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Full contour fixture tube fabrication

Will your tube pass a dimensional inspection?

July 15, 2008

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Verifying that tube was bent correctly is not as simple as it sounds. Bending specifications and tolerances aren't cut-and-dried, but are open to interpretation. The fabricator, the end user, and the check fixture designer might have three different perspectives on specifications and tolerances. Achieving a consensus is critical for designing and manufacturing a check fixture.

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Custom or standard?

May 13, 2008

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Fabricators have two broad choices in the bend tooling they select: standard or custom. Using standardized tooling provides cost-effective versatility. A well developed tooling inventory can accommodate nearly any bending job. On the other hand, custom tooling is designed for speed and efficiency. Customized tools make one part and one part only as fast as possible. The trade-offs boil down to time and money: standardized tooling requires more time to set up but costs less. With custom tooling, changeover is quick, but the tooling costs more.

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McDonald's Arches

Curving out a niche

April 15, 2008

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In celebration of its 50th anniversary in April 2005, McDonald's® opened a 24,000-sq.-ft. restaurant in Chicago. The restaurant's most eye-catching feature is a pair of parabolic arches that stand 60 ft. high. Constructed from 20-in. by 12-in. tubes, the arches were curved by Chicago Metal Rolled Products, an OEM component subcontractor. Operating within a tight time frame, CMRP helped the structural steel fabricator and erector, Tefft Bridge & Iron LLC, by bending the tubes in multiple locations on longer sections to reduce the number of weld splices needed.

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Automotive industrial

Automotive and industrial: A tale of two businesses

April 15, 2008

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Embracing technology has given Microflex a firm foothold in the turbulent automotive marketplace.The Tier 2 supplier has garnered a reputation for advanced sheet metal forming, developing parts for exhaust, steering, and fuel system components. It has ISO 9001 and other quality certifications and has invested in software that will add traceability and cohesion throughout the automotive operation.

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Laser cut tube parts

Machine shop sees the (laser) light

March 11, 2008

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MG Products Inc., Elkhart, Ind., successfully made the transition from a machine shop to a full-scale tube fabricator thanks to the investment in a laser tube cutter.

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Setup or cover-up?

March 11, 2008

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Setting up the tooling for a tube or pipe bending machine isn't as simple as it seems. Many variables are involved, making this a difficult task. A further complication is the tendency for many operators to adjust various pressure settings to compensate for poor tooling setup. The bend might turn out okay, but at a cost—a loss of process control and shortened tool life. Using a simple four-step setup process is the key to good bending, process control, and optimal tool life. This setup procedure also facilitates troubleshooting.

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orbital welding

Welding more with less

February 12, 2008

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With the gap between new projects and available welders only expected to widen, welding companies have to make up the difference by utilizing machines that can compensate for the labor shortage and maximize the productivity of available welders. New developments in orbital welding technology are helping companies address these tasks. Today orbital welding equipment incorporates production monitoring and analysis capabilities and is designed to be simpler to use. In continuing to advance the technology, welding equipment suppliers probably will take more of an integrated approach, tackling projects using automation and machines that combine preparation and welding operations into a comprehensive tool.

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Tube bending machine

Understanding benders and bender applications

December 11, 2007

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If you bend tube for a living, you have many choices when it comes to buying a new piece of bending equipment. Understanding how bending demands have changed over the decades and how bender manufacturers have responded are two key components in selecting the optimal bender for your particular application.

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