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Aicon has added an interface to the Tubeinspect optical-measurement system to allow it to connect directly to free-form bending machines.

This results in automatic correction values being identified for the formed tubes and transmitted to the bending machine.

Thus set-up time is shortened considerably.

A close cooperation with the bending-machine manufacturer Wafios from Reutlingen has made this new development possible.

Free-form tubes are manufactured by push bending and have a completely different set of parameters to tubes manufactured by draw bending.

In a CAD system they are often shown as a spline, a tube geometry in which – theoretically – a different radius can exist at any point.

When correction takes place on a conventional bending machine, only the LRA values at the individual bending points have to be corrected.

To achieve the desired tube geometry using free-form bending, many different settings on the bending machine have to be adjusted and the bend radii optimised until the exact tube form has been bent.

This set-up has to date been a time-consuming process with high material usage.

Tubeinspect’s interface enables smooth communication between the bending machine and the measurement system.

The demand for free-form bent tubes has increased dramatically, especially from the automotive industry.

Dr Werner Bosemann, managing director of Aicon 3D Systems, explained the reasons why: ‘Design demands or technical necessities call for tube forms, which can often no longer be manufactured on conventional machines.

‘Maximising efficiency however is another reason why many companies are migrating from conventional bending processes to free-form bending.

‘One of our customers is currently testing the possibility of manufacturing its brake lines using push bending, a form of free-form bending.

‘Their calculations show that employing this method would achieve significant cost-reduction, as the bending time per tube is lower,’ he added.

The company, which already has a Tubeinspect system, can now connect the measuring machine directly to the Wafios tube-bending machine B10 or the BMZ series and in doing so considerably reduce set-up and cycle time.

Wafios and Aicon will exhibit their products at the Tube and Wire trade fair in Dusseldorf, from 12 April.

Here, visitors can find out more details about connecting the optical-measurement system Tubeinspect with the Wafios free-form bending machine.

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