Precision tube bending of stainless steel and precious metals continues to be a driving factor in the production of semiconductors, a trend that looks to continue for the foreseeable future. Precision tube bending is the method of creating tubes that are bent without any inside or outside diameter imperfections. There is no wrinkling, and there is minimal wall thinning and flattening.
There are two types of customers who are taking advantage of the innovations in tube bending: those who are seeking reliable solutions for fitting smaller components into new technology, and those who are discovering that the old ways may no longer be the best ways.
Original equipment manufacturers benefit from the use of a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) tube bending machine, where more complex bends can be produced and repeated.
Nelson Hernandez is one of the project managers at Axenics, and he oversees the proposals that come in for customers seeking precision tube bending for their finished products. The process typically follows this path:
- A customer submits design plans for a component (though something to keep in mind is that Axenics’ design engineers are always available to consult on manufacturing design services and concepts even as simple as a sketch on a napkin).
- It is determined whether it is currently possible to produce the component as designed by creating a 3D simulation of the proposed component on the CNC bender.
- Axenics offers feedback for improvements, such as a better radius of the design
- It is determined if the precision tube bending to be performed will be a standard bend or a custom bend.
- If it is a custom bend, a new jig may have to be created to complete the precision bending.
- Axenics will go over the final plans with the customer.
- The bend is created and, if needed, repeated exactly the same over and over again.
Smart technology has created the demand for tinier and tinier semiconductors. Axenics is now regularly doing precision tube bending on coil at a super-tight radius, including 180-degree back-to-back bending of tubes, in order to fit a complex assembly into a small space.
“It’s not impossible to do, but not everyone can do it,” Hernandez said of the latest innovations of tube bending. “Everyone is trying to make things outside of the norm.”
Precision tube bending offers the flexibility that cannot be found off-the-shelf. In the coming year, Hernandez said he is looking forward to being able to achieve tighter-radius complex bends, more back-to-back bends and larger diameter bends.
Moving from weldments to custom bends
There are still some old-school engineers who have not yet been convinced that fittings can be replaced, though Hernandez said he sees customers willing to change on a regular basis. Unfortunately, he still sees some plans come in with specified weldments that just do not belong.
Sometimes is takes physically showing the customer how fittings can be eliminated with precision tube bending, as well demonstrating the money- and time-saving benefits. Not to mention erasing the risk of leaks.
“Once they see the results, they love it, and they typically end up asking to see what other improvements we can make for them,” Hernandez said.
While Axenics has had an in-house CNC tube bender for several years, it’s important that the machine is not only maintained for performance, but also updated when new technology for it emerges. Hernandez supports lean manufacturing at Axenics with time-saving measures.
The latest update to the CNC tube bender allows him to input plans from a customer directly into his computer and create a 3D simulation without having to enter it into the bender – to determine whether the existing plan can be produced successfully. He is able to get feedback to the customer faster than before with this upgrade.
You can review the capabilities and specifications of our CNC tube bender here. Nelson is always looking for ways to improve the capabilities at Axenics, one of the “super-fun” aspects of his job.
“One of the things I like the most is there is always some new challenge with a customer trying to make things better,” he added.