Mandrel bending, also known as mandrel tooling, is a sub-process of tube
bending. In this process, a mandrel—a metal rod or ball—is inserted
into the tube while it is being bent, which creates a more precise bend
with no wrinkles or kinks. For some applications, it is acceptable to
have a wrinkled tube; particularly when the tube just has to function
and quality is not a factor.
The process of mandrel bending provides a high quality tube because the amount of flow is improved, making the inside diameter of the tube consistent throughout, even at the bend; something that is not possible to do without using a mandrel. Mandrel bending is commonly used in exhaust applications in the automotive industry, pipe applications in the plumbing industry and instrument applications in the musical instrument manufacturing industry because the process improves the look of the bend and also creates a much tighter bend than is possible with empty bending. When the mandrel is inserted into the tube, it has to be strong enough to support the tube so that it won’t be deformed during bending, but also flexible enough to ensure that the tube is still properly bent.
Types of Mandrels Widely Used in Pipe Bending
Several varieties of mandrel tools assist manufacturers with pipe bending. These devices offer the critical support required to pipes and tubes at the point of bending to prevent breakage or compression damage. Some of the most commonly used categories within this category include ball, plug and close pitch mandrels. Additionally, machines for bending and a variety of natural forms often perform mandrel-like functions during fabrication in some manufacturing environments.
- Ball Mandrels: These mandrels somewhat resemble ball bearings or coiled rings in appearance. Manufacturers insert them into position at the point where a tube will bend acutely. Some ball mandrels include cables which serve to connect several precisely sized ball mandrels together in sequence. This tool permits very accurate bending operations. Perhaps for this reason, ball mandrels have become the most widely employed type of tube bending mandrel today in commercial fabrication settings.
- Plug Mandrels: Resembling plug-like rods, these pipe bender tools insert snugly inside a pipe or tube with thicker walls or a longer radius to provide extra support during the creation of gentle bends. A special sub-set of a plug mandrel called a "formed tip" mandrel furnishes a radius cut into the tip of the mandrel to precisely match the radius of the desired bend. This tool furnishes greater support for bending tubing with heavy, thick walls.
- Close Pitch Mandrels: Sometimes referred to as "thin wall" mandrels, this type of mandrel helps a craftsman bend narrow tubing with thin walls. Manufacturers must carefully match these tools with work piece materials to obtain optimal results.
- Square Tubing Bender Machinery: In recent years, a number of inventors have devised ingenious solutions for bending square tubing. These types of machines frequently rely upon custom-made dies. Tubing affixed to a workstation may press against the customized dies, for instance.
- Form Mandrels: For centuries, manufacturers have sometimes relied upon the construction of forms from natural materials to assist with pipe bending. Some people who work with PVC pipe pack this material with sand before heating the pipe to bend it, for instance. The sand in the interior helps prevents the distortion of the work piece during bending. Similarly, other systems for bending frozen pipes reportedly utilize water as a packing material. These types of ad hoc form mandrels may work well in production units in which artisans assemble products by hand, particularly if bending specifications do not call for tight tolerances.
Industries That Utilize Mandrel Bending
Have you noticed ads for "mandrel pipe bender mandrel tube bender"? Today, a number of different types of tools allow manufacturers to create useful products by bending pipe. While the equipment used to generate products for one industry may also sometimes hold utility in other fields, currently a generic ad seeking a "mandrel pipe bender mandrel tube bender" could elicit some surprising results!
Custom-made mandrels for bending have gained importance in numerous industries. Mandrels occur in many forms. Companies producing products in different sectors of the economy utilize tube bender equipment extensively today during fabrication. For example, just consider a few of the industries which rely upon mandrel pipe currently:
The Automotive Industry
Specialized mandrels play a role in the manufacture of some automotive components. For example, a mandrel exhaust bender may offer invaluable assistance to a vehicle engineering team. These tools assist the production of customized automotive models, for instance.
The Music Industry
Companies which manufacture some brass instruments rely extensively upon tube bender mandrels. From tubas to saxophones and French horns to trombones, musical instruments often require precise metal bending. Well-made mandrels and mandrel bent tubing and piping help make this goal possible.
The Plumbing Industry
Today the plumbing industry frequently utilizes tube and pipe bender mandrels. These tools help designers create products used in sinks, HVAC systems, water heaters and other equipment. Manufacturing companies which produce air conditioning and residential ventilation systems may rely upon a tube bending machine during the production of products for the commercial marketplace, for instance.
The Furniture Industry
The furniture industry requires mandrels in some cases for bending metal pipe during manufacturing operations. These tools may assist companies which produce furniture ensembles and lamps using metal or PVC pipe, for example. The construction of prototype models benefits from this technology.
The Construction And Roofing Industry
Mandrels for bending pipe perform a valuable role helping some manufacturers shape gutter pipes and downspouts for use in the construction and roofing industry. These tools also play a role in the creation of balustrades and railings, and other décor features.
The Aviation Industry
Some components in aircraft and drones require the use of mandrel bent tubing during manufacturing. Manufacturers often require specialized tools for this purpose, products designed to meet tight tolerances and high quality standards. Additionally, the type of materials utilized during production may influence the choice of mandrels in some situations.
The Medical Industry
Specialized tube bending plays an important role in the fabrication of numerous medical devices and diagnostic equipment today. As the complexity of biotechnology has increased, a growing number of specialty products require precisely bent tubes and piping. Many manufacturers in this field rely upon custom manufacturing; a medical tube bending machine may need to meet precise, detailed specifications, for instance.
The Energy Industry
From windmills to offshore oil rigs and geothermal energy systems, numerous products used within the modern energy industry require well-bent pipe and tubing. Sometimes these items may necessitate custom sizing. A refinery plant's mandrel exhaust bender and other bending tools perform valuable roles in the energy industry.
The History of Bent Mandrel Pipe Tools
Some experts believe the first use of mandrels as a type of tool occurred thousands of years ago. For instance, the ancient Egyptians likely relied upon some forms of mandrels. Similarly, mandrels such as lathes enjoy a long history spanning many nations and historic periods. As the need arose to bend piping and tubing, manufacturers developed specialized equipment for this purpose.
The Process For Creating Mandrels
The mandrel manufacturing process may vary. Factors such as the manufacturing location and applicable safety and production regulations, the manufacturer and its production protocols, the specific requirements of the customer, the available budget, the size of the production run, the ultimate purpose of the mandrel and the materials involved may all potentially influence production.
A variety of different mandrels promote the bending of pipes and tubes in variable dimensions. These tools transform tubular materials ranging from plastic or glass to copper or aluminum or steel. Manufacturers have devised manufacturing processes for the creation of specific mandrels. Even the dies designed for use in square tubing bender machinery sometimes fit only designated equipment models. For these reasons, companies benefit by performing diligent research before investing in mandrel bending technology. With many excellent mandrels available for bending tubing and piping, you'll want to ensure you match your selections to your production objectives.
Manufacturing Products Using Mandrels
Frequently, the process of utilizing a mandrel during manufacturing involves the application of temperature changes or mechanical force to compel piping or tubing to conform with the shape of an externally applied mandrel die or an internally applied mandrel. The mandrels developed to promote the bending of tubular materials assist manufacturers in preventing inadvertent distortions or rupturing of work pieces. They seek to offer extra support to the work piece without altering its radius or tubular conformation. Since work pieces may vary considerably in terms of composition and dimension, manufacturers must exercise care to comply with specific mandrel and bending machine manufacturer directions. Using an incorrectly-sized mandrel may cause accidental damage, for instance.
For example, some close pitch mandrels break or fracture when used against very strong, thick walled materials. In other situations, a steel mandrel may abrade or rupture some kinds of delicate tubing. Manufacturers may need to utilize a softer tool, such as a mandrel made from aluminum, in order to perform bending reliably without causing damage to the work piece. Instructions provided by the mandrel manufacturer should indicate the appropriate uses for specific tools designed for bending piping and tubing.
Some comparatively delicate materials, such as thin-walled copper piping or PVC piping, reportedly permit bending with the assistance of bending springs inserted into the cavity or slid across the exterior. This type of manufacturing process won't produce the tight tolerances achieved with a ball mandrel, however. Today, the ball mandrel remains the predominant type of mandrel for bending symmetrically tubular materials in commercial manufacturing settings.
Manufacturers in this century can locate mandrels composed of a wide variety of materials. Some of the most popular constituents include:
Alloys of aluminum bronze and nickel aluminum bronze remain very popular as a mandrel material. Mandrels composed of these metals work well for use with steel tubing. The mandrel won't damage the work piece as readily as mandrels comprised of harder metals.
Some types of thick-walled, strong work piece materials may require the use of a steel mandrel. For instance, this tool proves exceedingly useful for shaping and bending non-ferrous pipes. Today, manufacturers sometimes finish steel mandrels using hard chrome or titanium nitride surface treatments to enhance wear resistance.
Recently, some manufacturers have also begun using mandrels composed of long lasting plastic. These tools reportedly don't require lubrication. This capability poses an advantage in some manufacturing settings.
Using a mandrel as a copper pipe bender or a steel pipe bender holds numerous applications. Most economic sectors currently require products which include precisely bent or angled pipes or tubing. Special purpose mandrels, such as ball mandrels, expedite the production of a myriad of products.
In addition to the industries mentioned earlier, consider some of the other economic sectors which utilize a steel pipe bender or a copper pipe bender frequently: household consumer goods, sporting goods, lawn and garden tools, agricultural implements, maritime, electronics, aerospace, industrial parts, agriculture and heavy equipment may all require bent tubular components. The great variety of available products in this category ensure a bright future for specialized mandrel manufacturers.
Mandrel Bending Benefits
What benefits does mandrel bending confer? One important advantage obtained by using mandrels for bending pipes and tubes involves the ability to manipulate a tubular shape more easily during the manufacturing process without distorting or rupturing the work piece. These specialized mandrels offer valuable support to the walls of piping and tubing.
Another closely related benefit concerns cost-effectiveness. By relying on a ball mandrel, for instance, a manufacturer may reduce production losses. Fewer work pieces will fail to conform with customer specifications, resulting in less waste.
A third important benefit concerns the time required to manipulate tubing or piping. The use of ball or plug mandrels may significantly increase the speed of producing some products.
A fourth potential advantage relates to safety issues. Particularly when a manufacturer depends upon mechanical force to bend a tube or a pipe, the ability to avoid rupturing the work piece contributes to enhanced worker safety. Of course, to appreciate this benefit, it remains essential to correctly size and match the mandrel with work materials.
Bending mandrels enjoy widespread popularity today. These tools represent a smart investment in many production settings!
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