Rotating Tool Head Allows Left and Right Tube Bends to be Made in One Cycle

Today, the all-electric tube bending machine innovator Unison launches a machine with a novel rotating tool head that allows left- and right-hand bending to be performed in one rapid and continuous automatic cycle. The development greatly enhances both the ability to fabricate extremely complex tubular shapes, and to increase production throughput.

Dubbed the Unison Breeze-Revolution, the new all-electric tube bender has two multiple-tool heads mounted on opposite sides of a rotating frame. After bending using one or more tools on the right-hand head, the head retracts and a combination of transverse and rotational movement then position the left-hand head for subsequent bending operations. This changeover can be repeated as many times as required.

Compared with conventional left-hand/right-hand bending machines with their completely separate tool heads, Breeze-Revolution switches between bending directions much more rapidly, shaving a great deal of time from part manufacturing operations. The high speed of operation is boosted by the use of simultaneous movement of multiple machine motion control axes during bending and head changes, as well as specially developed movement profiles. These take place automatically and transparently without any need for programming by the user, and help to deliver a machine that can perform combined left/right-hand bending at least twice as fast as the company's previous machine design.

The new machine also includes numerous further innovations that improve the precision and versatility of the bending capability. These mean that sub-1D bends (bends with a radius of less than one diameter of the tube) can be made - even on thin-wall tubing - with the benefit of wiper dies for quality shape forming and control of material flow. The machine also features a long pressure die and a moveable platen that makes it easy to create difficult shapes such as 180 degree bends in a single continuous and rapid operation.

Together, these features make Unison's Breeze-Revolution tube bender suitable for the most complex shape-forming applications in today's tubular parts industry, on all types of material from exotic alloy tubing to mild steel. The continuous automatic operation means that complex shapes can be made in a single cycle, providing great speed of production for cost-sensitive manufacturing sectors such as furniture or automotive production - where batch sizes might be medium to large. Equally, the all-electric nature of the machine with its software-controlled set-up makes the machine ideal for producing the most complex and precise part shapes in very small batches, as might be required in sectors such as aerospace manufacturing.

The machine's all electric, servomotor-controlled architecture gives comprehensive programmability throughout the entire part fabrication cycle. The position and forces of the tube bending dies can be precisely controlled - delivering the highest accuracy and quality of shape fabrication and end finish. These benefits are in addition to the well-known returns of low energy consumption and quiet operation of all-electric motion control architectures, compared with traditional hydraulically actuated bending machinery.

At the heart of Unison's new Breeze-Revolution machine range is a real-time machine and motion system based on the deterministic Ethernet-compatible Powerlink protocol. A 100 Mbits/second network links all of the servomotor drives required to control bending operations. The speed of the network makes it possible to coordinate the movement of the various servomotor axes used during bending - such as the carriage, plane of bend, and clamp roller - more rapidly, allowing Unison to improve the speed of bending.

The new machine also features Unison's major new release of programming and operating software. Among dozens of new and improved features in v10 of its Unibend package is a collision checking capability that helps users to program the machine for new parts. Programming itself can be achieved typically in a couple of minutes by entering new ISO, XYZ or YBC values (distance tube is pushed out, rotation, and degree of bend), linking from CAD or measuring machines, adapting an existing template, or interactively teaching the machine.

Unison can supply the new left-hand/right-hand rotating head architecture on all-electric tube bending machines capable of handling tubing with diameters up to 180 mm (7 inches).


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