Understanding the advantages and drawbacks of each
February 26, 2004
Many fabricators use standard plasma cutters and abrasives to create beveled edges. Along with these traditional methods, welders also have the option of using three alternative beveling techniques: punch and nibble, peeling and shearing, and milling and routing. Each has advantages and drawbacks.
All of these methods generate no dust or fumes and produce paintable edges without distortion or a heat-affected zone (HAZ). Finished edges have consistent angles along the bevel's entire length.
Punch and nibble-style bevelers are portable power tools that use a punch to nibble the bevel. This type of beveler works with little operator effort. It can be brought to the workpiece or mounted for use as a stationary machine.
Average punch and nibble machines can cut up to 6 feet per minute (FPM) in a variety of material types. In stainless steel, the speed drops to approximately 4 FPM.
The tool life of the punch depends on the type of material being beveled, the use of a lubricant, and the maintenance of the punch. If maintained properly, the punch can bevel about 1,500 ft. in aluminum, about 1,000 ft. in mild steel, and about 500 ft. in stainless steel. Punches can be resharpened a number of times, with a maximum resharpening length of up to 3/8 inch.
By mounting the machine in a workstation and running the pieces through the machine, an operator can cut small pieces. The pieces also can be hand-fed through the machine without the workstation.
The weight of punch and nibble tools ranges from 17 to 43 lbs., but once the machine is placed on the plate, there isn't any weight on the operator.
The C-frame design in the cutting portion of the machine, while providing stability, limits the thickness of material it can bevel. The tool can handle pipe or plate from 3/16 to 6 in. thick.
A punch and nibbler beveler can bevel inside or outside contours and interior cut-outs in numerous types of material. It can even bevel upside down. The finished edge is prepared for welding. The maximum bevel length for this type of beveler is 0.600 in. and can be achieved in a one-pass operation. The work area can be kept clean by the use of a chip collection box, which is available on most models.
The peeling and shearing beveler works like a can opener, using a wheel-style cutter to peel away the material in the beveling mode.
This tool works best on material thicknesses ranging from 0.250 to 1.5 in., with a maximum bevel length of 0.750 in. in a one-pass operation. It can perform well on long runs.
This beveler produces a long, continuous chip, and the finished edge after beveling is ready for welding.
The peeling and shearing beveler reaches speeds of up to 10 FPM in mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Pins determine the angle of bevel, usually 22.5, 30, 37.5, 45, and 55 degrees.
Once the machine is set up on the plate, it runs hands-free with a reasonable noise level. Like the punch and nibble method, this beveler uses a C-frame design for stability.
This design and the physical size of the machine limit the portability of the unit and the material thickness that can be cut. It's most suitable for cutting larger parts with few cutting changes.
The milling and routing method is designed to provide portable beveling of material more than 1.5 in. thick. It uses a cutter with multiple inserts to produce machine-grade edges.
The hand-held unit has an open L-shaped design, so material thickness isn't a limiting factor. It can cut up to a 1.250-in. bevel, sometimes using multiple passes to achieve the maximum bevel length.
Although the machine is portable, the L-shaped head design creates a working space limitation and may be difficult to complete the bevel in restricted areas.
This beveler has an exposed rotating cutter, which can take some time to change, and it creates more noise than the peeling and shearing method. The cutting process produces hot slim chips, so the operator should wear safety glasses and an apron.
This beveler comes with an average of five to 10 inserts per holder. The cutters are not regrindable. Generally, if one insert is damaged, all of the inserts must be replaced.
When investigating alternative methods of beveling, consider speed, portability, ergonomics, noise, and clean cutting. When speed is an issue, make sure to consider the amount of bevel that can be achieved in one pass because some models appear slower but achieve more in one pass, thus achieving the final result more quickly.
In your evaluation, also give thought to:
A hands-on demonstration of each type of beveler will help you in the evaluation process and is the key to finding the right one for your work. Reviewing the factors that are most important to you and each style's strengths and weaknesses can help you determine the best machine for your particular application.
Gary Sheridan is the marketing director for power tools and tooling at TRUMPF Inc., Farmington Industrial Park, Farmington, CT 06032, 860-255-6319, fax 860-255-6433, email@example.com, www.us.trumpf.com.