The tool & die machining industry is strong, vibrant, and growing in the United States and worldwide. It supplies precise machine-made parts to many industries including medical, automotive, aerospace, defense, electronics, industrial machinery, telecommunications, agriculture, food processing, and more.
Skilled tool & die machinists are key to this thriving metal stamping industry. They work with a variety of sophisticated computer-guided machines to design and produce various parts (including high precision parts,) instruments, fixtures, gauges, and tools. Tooling involves skilled craftsmanship in the application of many processes including cutting, folding, machining, punching, shearing, stamping, grinding, milling, and tube bending.
Applications for Tube and Pipe Machining
Tooling to create applications for tube and pipe machining is as extensive as the industries served. For example, the automotive industry is supplied with perforated, bent, and reshaped pipes for exhaust systems and airbags. Tubing and piping are used extensively in water and waste-water treatment, the dairy industry, and the brewing industry, to name a few more applications.
Tube and Pipe Fabrication
Fabrication of tubes and pipes involves the processes to cut, including abrasive, flame, laser, oxyfuel, plasma, and waterjet. Plus, the forming tooling includes bending and end forming, along with trimming, beveling, finning, grooving, threading, and spinning.
There are four primary modes of tube bending:
- Compression bending.
- Rotary draw bending.
- Roll or angle bending.
- Freeform bending.
Most tubes and pipes that are formed are cylindrical in shape, but shapes can include round, oval, square, and rectangular. In addition to shaping, additional tooling and forming operations can include swaging, flaring, notching, fixturing, beading, and assembling.
Bendable tubes and pipes are made of a range of materials including aluminum, brass, steel, copper, nickel alloys, and titanium.
Tooling considerations for producing tube and pipe products and components are:
- Quality and quantity requirements.
- The tube material to be used.
- The tube’s outside diameter and wall thickness.
- The size of the bend’s centerline radius.
- The angle of the bend.
Tools and Machines Used in Pipe and Tube Machining
Some of the tools used in pipe and tubing fabrication are:
- Pipe and tube bender.
- Pipe and tube notcher.
- Pipe and tubing rolling machines.
- Pipe vises.
These are the types of tube and pipe bending machines:
- Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) benders. These sophisticated machines use tooling to produce tight-radius bends, large-radius bends, and elliptical bends—all on the same part.
- Vector bend tube bending machines. These machines can be used for high strength aircraft tubing and automotive exhaust tube applications.
- Orbital head bending machines. These are used for complex tube bending that may involve tubular parts with coils, fittings, and hoses.
- Hydroforming equipment uses fluid pressure to form ferrous or nonferrous materials to the specific die shape.
- Ram bending and pressure bending machines. These are used for electrical conduits and other light gauge products.
- Heat bending equipment.
- Mandrel benders or rotary-saw benders are typically used for handrail, ornamental ironwork, exhaust pipes, and roll cages.
- Roll benders are used for large radius bending operations.
Problems to Watch for in Tube Mill Tooling
These common problems can occur in tube and pipe fabrication, but are avoided by experienced tool & die production teams:
- Pinching, which occurs when a metal strip that is placed into the tooling set is too thick.
- Fluctuating size.
- Fluctuating size.
Seek Proven Expertise for Your Quality Metal Stamping and Tooling Needs
Contact AAA Tool and Machine, serving the Greater St. Louis area and the Midwest. We have been recognized as a valuable partner in the metal stamping industry for our strong tool design and build competency. With our metal stamping capacity, production machining services, and EDM capability, we provide the superior experience, precision, and quality you can depend on. As a full-service provider, we deliver great value in your tooling and machining needs.