Tube fabrication, or pipe fabrication, uses a variety of techniques to shape, bend, enlarge and cut tubes of all sizes and metals into parts, components and consumer products. Tubes are used to serve many functions: containment, support, transportation, protection etc. While tube fabricators are not generally involved in forming raw metal materials into tubes, tube fabrication services are an essential part of the process of tube or pipe manufacturing.
Tube cutting, tube bending, tube flaring and tube swaging are highly specialized processes which require specific equipment, such as hydraulic tube benders, CNC mandrel bending and swaging machines, as well as skilled engineers, operators and a range of other facility capabilities to ensure that the integrity of the tube structure is maintained and minimal material wastage occurs. Tubing is formed from many types of common metals such as aluminum, brass, bronze, copper or other alloys, and can range greatly in diameter and length. Material choice will depend on intended use and location of the tubing as it can vary greatly in terms of durability, density and hardness. Many consumer products, as well as automotive, aerospace and industrial parts are fabricated by precision tube fabrication, including commonly used items such as steel handrails, bicycle frames and other exercise equipment, tent frames, point of purchase displays (POP), plant hangers and outdoor patio furniture. Industrial and manufacturing industries use fabricated tubing and mandrel bent tubing extensively in hydraulic pipe applications such as automotive fuel lines, exhaust pipes, hydraulic cylinders, shell and tube heat exchangers. Selecting the appropriate tube fabrication service requires an analysis of both the physical properties of the tubing and the production capabilities of the manufacturer.
Although wrinkled tube bends are acceptable for some low-performance and non-aesthetic applications, high performance mufflers, hydraulic piping and decorative handrails require smooth, unobstructed tube bends. Pipe elbows, commonly used in flow and hydraulic applications such as plumbing, require both mandrel bending and flaring or swaging. For these types of applications, mandrels are placed inside the tube in the area being bent, or the tubes are packed with sand before the bending process. Mandrels are typically a rounded-tip steel rod, linked ball bearings or unlinked steel balls; the straight mandrel, called a plug mandrel, is used on normal bends, while ball mandrels with linked or unlinked ball bearings are used to form critical precision bends. Mandrels and sand are essential parts of the tube fabrication process as they preserve the interior shape of the pipes around the curve.
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Steel that is alloyed with moderate amounts of chromium and other elements,
such as molybdenum. Alloy steel is distinguished from stainless steel
by good hardening characteristics and from tool steel by possessing better
"toughness" after hardening.
- The heating and cooling of steel to remove stresses, alter physical, mechanical and metallurgical properties, increase corrosion resistance and thermally treat steel prior to age hardening.
- The curved section of bent tubing.
- Tubing that is not given heat treatment after the initial welding.
- A family of chromium nickel stainless steels that have good corrosion resistance and good formability, but can only be hardened by cold working.
- Less commonly known as the "bend form" or the "radius die," it is the primary tool on a rotary-draw tube-bending machine. The bend die is the form against which the tube is clamped and then drawn around to produce a bend.
- The process of annealing in a controlled atmosphere so that dark, adherent oxides do not form on the metal.
- The amount of pressure that will make tubing fail or burst by exceeding the tensile strength of the material from which the tubing is made.
- A measure of warp in tubing material or the deviation from straightness.
- The normal method of rotary-draw tube-bending, which is done without heating the tubing material.
- A measure of a tube's ability to deform without fracturing.
- The amount of permanent extension of the material before it fractures.
- A term that refers to the state of the tube after the weld has been processed to produce uniform strength and dimensions and the tube has been annealed for corrosion resistance.
- Tests used to evaluate the quality of finished products, such as crush, flare, bend, flange, flatten, reverse flatten, reverse bend and expanding.
- The deformation of round tubing into an elliptical shape or a symmetrical flattening of a round tube. Ovality is the measure of the difference between the maximum and minimum outside diameters of a round tube.
- A protective layer made of oxides, which is on the outside of tubing, that resists corrosion.
- The chemical removal of oxides on the surface of metals.
- Tubing specified for the containment of liquids and gasses, as opposed to structural or mechanical purposes.
- The unbent section of a bent tube.