Thinking of starting a new tube end forming project? Whether it’s your first project or your 101st, there may be a few things you’ve forgotten to consider. Through our many years of experience, we’ve compiled a list of the top questions you need to answer before starting your next tube end forming project.
1. How does the material affect the process?
There may not be many material options for your final application, but understanding how your material selection will affect the tube end forming process is important. Creating an end form on stainless steel often requires a different process, or machine, than if you were forming copper. Understanding the impact of the material choice, including diameters and wall thickness of the part, is critical for the success of your project.
2. Will the GD&T on the print influence the process?
How the part is dimensioned can play a big role in the technology implemented in your project. Adding requirements like circularity, concentricity, surface finish, runout, and Cpk can make relatively simple print dimensions much more complicated. Most times these special requirements can still be met, but the cost and type of application may change due to the added difficulty. Before kicking off your project, make sure your print actively reflects what you need. Eliminating unnecessary requirements and opening up tolerances can make all the difference in the cost of your solution.
3. What happens before or after this process?
When starting a new project, not only must we know how the tube will be presented to us, but also if any other processes are planned after ours. If the print shows that the tube is bent, does that mean it will be presented to our application in a bent state? If there are other processes that are integral to the final part, will they happen before or after the tube end forming process? Understanding what processes come after may also allow us to make suggestions on how we can make those easier down the line, such as helping with robotic welding gaps. All of these answers help Overton provide the best solution for your tube end forming project.
4. Are there future parts to consider?
New tube forming equipment is an investment that must pay off for our customers. Being able to run a wide variety of parts on one machine will provide you with enough flexibility to get the return you’re after. If you give us a single part print, we need answers to a variety of questions. Is this the biggest OD part that you will need to run? What other forms do you anticipate running on this machine? Do you want to incorporate lubrication systems for future products, even if the current part doesn’t require it? Do you think you might automate this process in the future? Answers to all of these questions allow us to make sure you’re getting a machine that fits the bill for your current applications AND those to come.
5. Will the end trim condition disrupt future forming processes?
It seems that an item our customers most regularly forget about is the end condition of the tube presented to our tube end forming process. Major issues are created when the end trim on the tube is not square to the centerline of the tube. Using hard stops to locate the end of the tube can create discrepancies in the amount of tube length presented to the tooling. In spin forming and ram forming, it can create “lop-sided” end forms that are long on one side and short on the other. In all processes, burrs are the enemy, so if you’re saw cutting the tube, be prepared for additional tooling costs due to the burrs wearing out tooling faster and requiring more polishing. Understanding the condition of the end trim presented to a tube end forming process is critical for the overall success of the project.
Other Things You Might Have Forgotten To Consider
- Will parts need to be deburred?
- Will parts need to be clean before or after the end of the process?
- What issues will the cut-to-length method create?
In case you missed it, check out our recent publication in the Tube & Pipe Journal: End forming tube with digital technologies, material handling options.