Home > New electric pipe bending machine boosts accuracy of large-bore hydraulic parts

New electric pipe bending machine boosts accuracy of large-bore hydraulic parts

article image The powerful high torque machine can bend thick-walled pipes and tubes up to 180mm in diameter

An electric pipe bending machine from Unison is helping Frank Mohn Piping improve production accuracy and throughput of complex large-bore hydraulic piping systems. The powerful high torque machine can bend thick-walled pipes and tubes up to 180mm in diameter, enabling the company to improve manufacturing efficiency by reducing the number of steps required to fabricate piping parts.

Recently installed at Frank Mohn Piping’s manufacturing facilities in Frekhaug, Norway, the custom pipe bender is one of the most powerful all-electric machines that Unison has delivered to date. Based on Unison’s Breeze platform, the machine’s exceptionally high torque capability, combined with precision CNC control and force sensing clamp and pressure dies, enables the accurate bending of thick walled pipes made from hard materials without deformation.

A manufacturer of hydraulic pipes that are used in the well-known ‘Framo’ brand of submerged pumping systems for shipping, offshore and underground applications, Frank Mohn Piping (FMP) also produces a diverse range of hydraulic pipes for the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels that are used in the offshore oil and gas industry.

FMP sought a bending solution that could accommodate a range of fabrication materials and wall thicknesses for the production of large diameter pipes while also addressing a particular manufacturing issue involving 131mm and 156mm diameter thin-walled stainless steel pipes. One of the two hydraulic CNC bending machines that FMP was using to produce these pipes presented problems while fabricating tight bends without wrinkles, despite the use of a mandrel, because there was insufficient control resolution over the rotary-draw bending process. The other machine was capable of handling the bending tasks, but was relatively old and sourcing components was difficult.

Speaking about the electric pipe bending machine from Unison, Helge Kolas, Production Manager of Frank Mohn Piping said that the machine’s technology has a number of important advantages over hydraulics, including faster setup, better process accuracy and repeatability, and much higher energy efficiency. FMP chose Unison because of their proven track record of producing all-electric benders that are consistently ahead of the competition.

FMP’s new electric pipe bending machine is a single-stack, right-hand bend model, equipped with Unison’s innovative laser springback system, which facilitates right-first-time manufacturing by automatically compensating for the tendency of tubular parts to spring back slightly after being bent. The bending head is designed for exceptional rigidity to accommodate large, heavy pipe assemblies and to allow fully automated movement of the pipe in all working planes. Despite their very large physical size, the tools are designed for quick changeover, using a special set of mounting plates that are moved by an overhead gantry crane. Machine setup and tool changeover times are impacting factors in production since many of the pipes manufactured are unique to each application and produced in very small batch sizes ranging from 1 to 50; by enabling quick tool changeover as well as machine setup, the machine saves time for FMP.

Every pipe that has been bent on the Unison machine in its first six weeks of operation has been to specification with FMP gaining from process repeatability, flawless machine performance, high bend accuracy and better ovality of parts.

While FMP has not yet had occasion to bend thick-walled pipes or use the Unison machine’s laser springback feature, the company is about to start a project where these capabilities will be used.

By capitalising on the improved bending accuracy and repeatability of the Unison all-electric machine to secure an end-to-end bent part accuracy of just a few millimetres, FMP plans to improve the process flow of its manufacturing facility.

Commenting on FMP’s partnership with Unison on the all-electric tube bending technology, Unison’s Key Account Manager, Steve Haddrell says there is growing industry awareness that Unison’s all-electric platform is fully scalable and the company has the capability to produce machines for bending extremely large tubes and pipes.

With more than 20 years of experience in designing tube and pipe bending solutions for customers’ specific fabrication problems, Unison offers a standard range of all-electric machines currently spanning tube and pipe sizes from 16mm to 175mm along with customisation capabilities.

Unison is also seeing significant interest from new markets such as suppliers to the shipbuilding, offshore and subsea equipment, power generation and industrial process industries.

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