Selected articles from July/August 2013 issue published on TheFabricator.com:
After decades of using an old manual tube bender with no features, Kress Corp. took a huge leap in technology when it purchased a new bender with CNC, full-color interface, and stacked tooling capability. The result is a 10-fold productivity improvement.
Initially used for nonferrous cutting operations, plasma developed into a useful means for cutting 2-D sheet and plate steel when the water-injected plasma process was developed in the late 1960s. As technology developments improved the edge quality, cutting speed, consumable parts life, and long-term operating cost, it became competitive with other thermal cutting processes. In recent years, improved control technology has enabled plasma to be a contender in the realm of 3-D cutting, making it an option for tube, pipe, and profiles.
Gas tungsten arc welding, a joining process developed decades ago, has been improved by many technology developments over the years, but the essentials are unchanged: It uses an electric arc between a nonconsumable tungsten electrode and the workpiece to produce a weld pool, and it uses a shielding gas. Experiments with brushing on or pasting on mixed metal oxide slurries have shown how this decades-old process can improve dramatically in penetration and speed.
Tube and pipe producers have relied on GTAW and plasma for many decades, and CO2 lasers for more than a decade, but recently another choice has emerged: Fiber lasers. Relying on a solid fiber rather than a gas to generate the laser beam isn’t ideal for every material and wall thickness, but it will change the industry in a profound way.
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