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Unison has launched an all-electric tube bending machine that has the power to bend tubing with outside diameters up to 170mm (6.7in).

The Breeze 170 can generate a bending torque as high as 135,000Nm, which is nearly 50 per cent more than the company’s previous 150mm machine.

It brings the process flexibility and business advantages of software-controlled setup and bending to more heavy-duty applications, according to the company.

The Breeze 170 may open up application areas in aerospace and shipbuilding.

The machine’s ability to accommodate such large-diameter tubing, combined with its power and precision bending capabilities, makes it suitable for handling lightweight high-strength ducting, manufactured from specialist materials such as commercially pure (CP) titanium, titanium alloys and stainless steel.

Fast, software-controlled setup enables the Breeze 170 to efficiently handle batch sizes as small as one.

The machine offers accurate, fully programmable control of the rotary draw bending process.

It can accommodate tubing with a wall thickness of up to 3mm and can produce bends of up to 180 degrees, with a bending speed of up to 10 degrees per second.

It can also perform bending operations slowly, which is an important attribute for the precision forming of titanium.

The Breeze 170 is designed for absolute rigidity and uses fast-acting closed-loop servo control to ensure high process accuracy.

The machine provides a repeatability of +/-0.1 degrees on both the bend angle and the bend plane.

Bending accuracy is further supported by a wiper die system, which features precision setup facilities.

The Unibend machine control software supplied with the Breeze 170 runs under Windows XP or Vista on any industry-standard PC.

Unlike traditional hydraulically powered tube benders, Unison’s all-electric machines provide users with complete control over the bend operation; they can modify the bend speed, clamping pressure, pressure die position and force and mandrel positioning parameters to achieve the optimum bend, according to the company.

Advanced features include fully automated tube sensing and clamping.

The software also includes remote diagnostic aids, which enable Unison’s engineering team to resolve any bending problems or machine performance issues at customers’ sites.

A software ‘black box’, which automatically stores the last 500 instructions entered by the operator, together with details of machinery positions from the servo motor sensors, allows Unison to help users optimise their processes and to provide remote maintenance services.

Tube bending operations can be programmed in three ways.

Programs can be generated automatically by transferring data from computer-aided-design (CAD) software files.

Unison has interfaces for most CAD packages and will develop interfaces for any others that are required, including a manufacturer’s proprietary design software.

A simple programming template is also available, enabling users to create a program by entering the distance between bends, the angle of bend required and the rotation of the tube.

A further option is copying or reverse engineering by using a tube measuring system to recreate the coordinates directly from a sample or a prototype.

In place of hydraulic force, the Breeze 170 employs servo motors to control the entire tube bending process, including clamp, pressure die, mandrel and follower.

This all-electric actuation is claimed to provide performance benefits in terms of energy consumption, repeatability and noise reduction.

The actuation elements of the machine only draw appreciable current when a bend is being made, reducing energy consumption; at all other times, the Breeze 170 consumes less than 1.5kW/h.

Noise is also reduced – the Breeze 170 generates around 50-60dB, which is equivalent to normal voice level.

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