October 21, 2010
Challenged with shorter product life cycles and increased global competition, OEMs and job shops are looking for more flexible design and production equipment. All-electric, multisense tube benders are designed to meet their needs.
The advantages of all-electric tube benders have become more widely known over the last five years. The attributes of improved accuracy, greater repeatability, faster cycle times, ease of setup, low noise, better electrical efficiency, and cleaner operations have somewhat overshadowed the equally important benefits of adding to the increased manufacturability of e new end-use products from OEMs and added flexibility and cost savings for job shops.
In this age of new-product innovation driven by global competition, OEM product life cycles are becoming shorter and shorter. To keep pace, OEMs and their supply chains are investing heavily in new-product development to design and produce new products that are more effective, more efficient, easier to use, lower in cost, and aesthetically more pleasing, with some of these new products creating whole new market segments.
This is especially true where the aesthetics of the end use product has an important influence on the buying decision. Such products include metal furniture, health and fitness equipment, home and hospital equipment, recreational vehicles, and store fixtures, as examples.
With the advent of all-electric, multisense benders—benders that are able to produce right-hand, left-hand, and variable-radius bends in the same bending cycle—OEM product designers now have available to them the additional degrees of design freedom they need to develop innovative designs in tubular structures that influence the size, shape, and physical appearance of the end product. Designers no longer are restricted by the limitations of hydraulic or electric benders that are not able to support design innovation in tubular designs. The newest generation of all-electric benders can expand design flexibility, reduce part cost, reduce production lead-time, and offer the ability to accommodate last-minute design changes, all of which can help level the playing field against offshore competition.
For many applications multisense, all-electric benders with right-hand, left-hand, and variable-radius bending capabilities are able to produce complex tubular shapes on one machine without the interruption and lost time associated with changeover or setups on multiple benders.
These new benders, capable of performing draw, compression, and variable-radius bends without the need for mechanical changeover, can be equipped with up to eight sets of tools.
For example, using a hydraulic/electric bender to produce a 1-in.-dia. tubular frame part (Figure 1) requires bending two individual pieces of cut-to-length material and performing two welds to complete the assembly—a batch fabrication process.
An all-electric, multisense bender can complete this part in one bending step in approximately 36 seconds, which is about 30 percent less time than it takes to complete the part using a conventional right-hand hydraulic/electric bender.
In this example, cutting one piece instead of two, bending with a faster cycle time, and eliminating a weld are the most tangible benefits in terms of direct and indirect labor cost reductions.
These new benders also eliminate the possibility of compromised bending tolerances caused by hydraulic fluid temperature fluctuations during the course of a production day.
It is generally accepted that 70 percent of a product’s cost is determined by its design. It also is generally understood that new OEM product designs, if they are not to be restricted by existing fabrication capabilities, might require the use of newer equipment with more flexibility.
All-electric, multisense tube benders meet this challenge. They accept multiple sets of tools capable of bending various tube sizes and shapes with different radii as tight as 1D, as well as have the flexibility of variable-radius bending.
With shop workloads properly scheduled, modern multisense benders can reduce non-value-added setup and changeover time. Coupled with the latest available video graphic programming software, these benders also automatically find the shortest, collision-free bending cycle to reduce setup time and enhance bender productivity.