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Semiconductors: When to use precision tube bending and tube welding

by Last updated Aug 2, 2023 | Published on Jun 9, 2021Pipe & Tube Bending

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Perfection in precision tube bending requires both the inside and outside diameter to have zero imperfections. There’s no wrinkling and minimal wall thinning and flattening. It’s a skill we’ve honed for four decades. We also offer top-quality tube welding as both of these techniques are an ideal fit for semiconductor components – depending on the requirements of the job.

Precision tube bending with few fittings is ideal for many applications since fewer fittings means lower risk of tube leaks – plus, it’s faster and cheaper. There are situations, such as within the semiconductor industry, where welded fittings are a recommended part of the job. More on that below.

Correct and consistent precision tube bending requires a skilled mechanical mindset and proven processes. To understand the skill required for this type of tube bending, you should understand what a perfect end result looks like.

Preventing imperfections with precision tube bending

Wrinkling is an unsightly feature that occurs on the outside diameter of the tube inside of the bend radius. Tube wrinkling is a condition that the semiconductor industry cannot tolerate. There can be no risk of materials getting trapped in a tube wrinkle, contaminating not only the tube but possibly the entire system.

Preventing wrinkling while tube bending requires precise attention to detail. Cold bending without wrinkles is actually an art involving a combination of factors including:

  • Exact insertion depth of the mandrel
  • Proper clamp die and backing block pressure
  • Draw speed

Another key factor for bending with no wrinkles is using the right type of and viscosity of bending/drawing lubricant. Successful precision tube bending also requires no clamp or backing block marks on the bent tubing.

However, the tube needs to be gripped tightly as it is pulled around the radius block during the process. There is a fine line between holding it secure enough to make sure it doesn’t slip and holding it too tight, leaving clamp marks on the outside diameter of the tube.

Wall thinning and flattening

Wall thinning and flattening is another issue that may come into play with precision tube bending. The tighter the bend radius, the greater the chances of wall thinning and flattening are, so attention to detail is critical. Most industries will only tolerate 10 percent or less of wall thinning and flattening during precision tube bending – and some tolerate even less than that.

When bending tubes, the outer diameter stretches and thins while concurrently compressing and thickening the inner diameter of the bend. When the material on the inner diameter of the bend starts to thicken, it has a greater tendency to form wrinkles. 

Therefore, wall thinning and wrinkling often go hand in hand. The skill of precision tube bending is preventing either from happening during the process. Quality control is a top priority for every component Axenics delivers, hence our 99.7% quality rating.

Using proper lubrication

Precision tube bending companies find that many industries, such as chemical engineering, rely on bending/drawing lubrication in the tube bending process. The lubrication helps the bending machine achieve required tight radii during the bending process without deforming the tubes. 

Tubes in industries with high heat or weather-related factors may face great stresses becoming more susceptible to leaks and cracking. Fewer points per tube can protect these systems, which is why we use a bending machine. It’s essential to result in a seamless flow of gases or liquids. There are zero kinks in bent tubing systems to trap or slow materials flowing through the system.

Semiconductor industry requirements

In most cases, the semiconductor industry does not allow any lubricants to be used in the bending process, so there’s no risk of residual contamination lingering behind. Instead, welded tees and elbows are used as compensation for tight-radius tube bending in some applications. 

Our journeyperson welders expertly weld tubing in place of a machined bend that uses lubrication. We’ve produced welds that are stronger than the original material of the tube, and we’re confident that welded tubes perform well in semiconductor components.

In many jobs, the inside diameter of tubing for the semiconductor sector is electro-polished. Electro-polishing is required in semiconductor tubing as these tubes generally carry high-purity gas within them. The chance of any material flaking off and contaminating the chip-making process would be disastrous, and that risk is alleviated by the electro-polishing.

The arts of bending and welding

While there are numerous companies that list tube bending and tube welding within their overall capabilities, few have been able to perfect those arts like Axenics.

The art of precision tube bending or precision tube welding success is a combination of expert knowledge of the materials, skilled expertise, and using the proper tooling and precision tube bending machines during the process. Each of these factors align in perfect harmony to achieve the consistent quality most high-tech industries require for defect-free tubing components and assemblies.

Give us the chance to make a spec component for you and we’ll prove it.

Tube bending is the ideal solution for your jobs where accuracy and repeatability are essential. Here’s a resource packed with solutions for you.

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