GKN Aerospace adds tube bending machines for complex parts

August 11, 2009

GKN Aerospace has installed Unison all-electric, combined left- and right-hand bending machines at its wing component operation in Filton, U.K. The machines are used to fabricate highly precise, complex tubular parts in batches usually less than 20 parts. Typical applications might be parts with as many as 19 bends, complex shapes with multiradius coils, or titanium tubing with wall thicknesses up to 0.10 in.

The facility fabricates about 3,000 to 4,000 parts per week, using tube sizes from a fraction of an inch to more than 3.94 in. Aircraft applications are its main market, and the materials used include titanium, aircraft-grade aluminum, and corrosion-resistant steels.

Bends typically are made to 0.04-in., 3-D envelope accuracy, sometimes as tight as 0.01 in. The precision and repeatability of bending have allowed the company to eliminate sawing operations following bending to meet the target length.

Parts are transferred automatically from left- to right-hand tool heads as many times as required to bend the required shape in a single stage. As a result, batch fabrication times have decreased from 3 days to 1-1/2 hours for one of the coiled parts and from 2-1/2 hours to 30 min. for a batch of the multibend part that used to involve switching machines.

GKN Aerospace is a first-tier supplier to the global aviation industry, working on fixed- and rotary-wing aerospace platforms in military and civil aviation markets.

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