All-electric tube benders take a step forwards

Paul Boughton

The tube bending machine innovator Unison is moving the technology forwards again, with the completion of a groundbreaking all-electric machine that is capable of bending tubes and pipes up to 9in (225mm) in diameter. The availability of all-electric machines at this new size level brings the benefits of instant set-up and right-first-time precision bending to many new applications in sectors including shipbuilding, powergen, and oil, gas and chemical processing.

The new machine is believed to be the most powerful all-electric tube bender that has ever been shipped, and the first implementation of Unison's new machine design is destined for a naval shipyard. Until this development, the largest all-electric machines offered by most vendors could typically handle maximum tube/pipe sizes of up to 7in (175mm).

"We believe that the right-first-time manufacturing capability of our new 225mm tube and pipe bending machine with its automated set-up, can deliver a return on investment very quickly through scrap reduction and operator time savings - probably within just two to three years," said Alan Pickering of Unison. "With this project Unison has also devised a novel electromechanical actuation architecture that will allow the continued scaling of all-electric benders to even larger machines - and we are confident we can take the next step to 250-300mm pipe sizes with ease, with bend torques up to a million Newton-metres or more."

Unison's new machine offers an advanced and highly productive alternative to the hydraulically powered machines that are typically used today for bending large bore tubing and piping. Its all-electric bending motion - controlled by software-programmable, closed-loop servomotor axes - allows automatic machine set-up, and delivers extremely high accuracy and repeatability from batch to batch.

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