Tube fabricating is the process of shaping, bending, enlarging or cutting tubes to work with parts and products. Tubes can be made from all types of metals such as aluminum, brass, bronze or copper, and they can range greatly in diameter and length. They are usually cylindrical, or round, but the cross-sections, or joinings may vary in shape according to application.
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Types of Tube Fabrication
Fabricating is not the forming of tubing from raw materials, but rather includes: annealing, flattening, coating, buffing, sizing, welding, notching, piercing etc existing tubing to meet specific needs. These highly specialized processes require specialized equipment, especially as tubing is often a crucial component of an operation. Tubing is a common feature in many different fields and choosing a particular type includes considering factors such as dimension, performance, opacity, strength.
Machinery Used in Tube Fabricating
Types of machinery used in the process of tube fabricating use tube benders, mandrels for mandrel bending and tube swaging machines. These all require skilled engineers, operators and may require the assistance of CNC machines and CAD drawings. Tubing is often required to be very specific lengths and dimensions, and therefore using computerized equipment helps to eliminate human error and wastage. Cutting may include notching, punching or drilling. Flaring and swaging are both cold working processes which expand the diameter of a certain length of tube or pipe, usually to make it capable of connecting with another tube. Hydraulic applications use tubing for a number of processes and it is important for the adjoining tubes to seal tightly to prevent escaping of air or pressure. Tube and pipe bending can be done by hand but is more often done by semi-automated and automated equipment which is faster and more precise than manual bending. Using a mandrel prevents wrinkles on the interior of the tube around bends and corners and improves the overall quality of flow through the tubing. Tube rolling is the process of producing tubular parts through heat curing materials around a circular mold.
Applications of Fabricated Tubes
Consumer items such as steel handrails, bars, bicycle frames, tent frames, displays and furniture use tubing. Industrial and manufacturing industries use hydraulic pipes in applications such as automotive fuel lines, exhaust pipes, hydraulic cylinders, and shell and tube heat exchangers. Other examples of tubing formed include floor flanges and pipe elbows. Plumbing, engines, machinery, fluid transportation, HVAC processes are all further examples of areas in which the tube is an important part and a further reason why precision fabrication is a valuable focus of tube manufacturers.