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Friday, 26 July 2019 07:32

Robots and people are joining forces

Continuously increasing sales figures. Next powerful momentum through artificial intelligence.

You can rely on robots – and not only for precision welding, bending and cutting of pipes or for transporting and depositing pipes. They generate steadily increasing sales figures for their manufacturers and users just as reliably. And that, even though their huge, boundary-shifting time has only just begun. Because soon enough, robots will use artificial intelligence to catapult industrial production into spheres that were previously unimaginable.

Robots are definitely a model for success. Maybe not on the catwalk yet, where they probably will not look good in the future too – rather awkward-looking – but in production. Impressive figures from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) demonstrate just how much their use in industry, and so also for pipe production, has changed purely in terms of quantity. In 2008, the number of industrial robotics units worldwide was still 113,000. In 2018 this number climbed to 384,000 units. Where it will end is completely open!

2019 07 26 093217

China, the biggest customer
The Asian-Australian market relies heavily on the support of robots. The demand was for 260,000 units last year, 71,000 in Europe and 49,000 in America. China remains by far the largest customer – according to IFR estimates, it acquired 133,000 in 2018, followed by Japan with just over 52,000 units. The USA, the third largest market for robots, made a notable 15 % leap to a total of 38,000 units last year.

“The North American countries – US, Canada and Mexico – represent the second largest operating base of industrial robots in the world after China,” said IFR president Junji Tsuda, president of the International Federation of Robotics. While many major robot system integrators came from North America, most major robot manufacturers are located in Japan, Korea and Europe.

Closed process chains
Love that lasts: robots remain in demand – even in the face of global economic and political uncertainties. Germany as example: according to the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), German robotics and automation achieved a sales volume of 15 billion euros for the first-time in 2018 – an increase of 4 %.

“Geographically, the strongest development of course take place in the markets which today still completely or partially dispense with automation,” explains Stefanie Flaeper, Managing Director at transfluid. Wherever employees can exert qualitative influence on products, the potential is also very high. “If closed process chains are desired, there is certainly great potential for growth here. This is also of interest when dealing with sensitive components.”

Automotive as the engine
The driving force behind the ever-increasing demand for robots is the automotive sector, where robot use is gaining momentum. This is followed by areas such as electrics/electronics, metal, plastics and chemical products as well as the food and beverage industry. In other words, a development that electrifies numerous industries.

The size of the company plays a key role in the use of robots. In 2018, almost every sixth company in the manufacturing sector (16 %) in Germany with at least ten employees used industrial or service robots. As the German Federal Statistical Office explains, large industrial companies use robots more frequently than smaller companies. In large companies with at least 250 employees, the proportion is 53 %. In medium-sized companies with 50 to 249 employees, it is 24 %. With a share of 10 %, small companies with 10 to 49 employees use robot technology much less frequently. “Industrial robots are used, for example, for welding, laser cutting and special-purpose painting,” reports the Federal Statistical Office. Service robots would be used for monitoring, transportation and cleaning purposes.

Shoulder to shoulder
The robot works like clockwork and provides impetus to the company's sales. A pat on the back would be appropriate – if it would have meant something to a robot. Simply as a thank you for doing its job in production repetitively with the same precision.

The advantages of the robot in industry are obvious: These include “increased productivity, production reliability, stable processes, ‘closed’ production processes – with a finished part – and linking also in difficult positioning,” explains transfluid CEO Stefanie Flaeper.

However, robots are usually “lone warriors”. They are often separated from humans by a safety fence. But this is likely to change with the use of artificial intelligence in the future, when robot and man work shoulder to shoulder. What would have been considered science fiction years ago, is slowly but surely becoming reality.

Imitating man
The robots will join forces with humans, take on even more tasks, assist their human colleagues to accomplish specific difficult tasks. “The challenge is to be able to use the robots even for very small production volumes, which is only partially possible today,” says Flaeper. If successful, it will open up a new field of activity for robotics. “It would also be interesting if the robot could very precisely mimic the movement of a person in a production process without having to be programmed.”

The potential of an intelligent – and “sensitive” – robot is immeasurable. “Because specified processes which can be simulated digitally and undergo corresponding evaluations are important in Industry 4.0, a robot is superior to humans,” continues Flaeper. Because the robot provides the security that the processes are always the same and could be simulated accordingly. The processes could be represented and checked via a digital twin.

Digital approach
Therefore, the limits of the possible that appeared hardly surmountable until a few years ago are shifted tirelessly not only in companies, but also in institutes and universities. The Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics, for example, is working on this. One focus of the institute is on the pilot project “Factory of the Future”. It involves the implementation of robust robot-aided manufacturing processes with the help of digitisation approaches in the context of Industry 4.0. “This includes, for example, Cobots (collaborative robots), which are as easy to use as smartphones, as well as robots that generate the necessary programs for assembly in any quantity,” explains the institute. These flexible and interconnected manufacturing processes would make applications more efficient, less expensive and safer.

As part of the EU-wide SOMA project, employees of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics have made significant progress in the sensitive gripping ability of robots. SOMA started with the objective of improving the state-of-the-art robot manipulation capabilities for the industry. The project has already been completed “and includes a number of scientific breakthroughs in the ability to grip and manipulate undefined objects such as fruit or vegetables with robotic hands,” explains the institute.

“Soft hands”
The traditional approach to robotic grasping and in-hand manipulation uses rigid hands and regards the environment of the object as an obstacle. Development focused on exploring ways to grasp an object without coming into contact with its surroundings.

“The SOMA project, on the other hand, uses soft hands that can easily adapt to the shape of the object and use the physical constraints of the environment as an opportunity to guide manipulation,” emphasises the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics. This fundamental change in approach was inspired by the way people use their hands.

The SOMA consortium consists of world-renowned researchers, academics and scientists. Apart from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), employees from the Technical University of Berlin, Ocado, the University of Pisa, the IIT – Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria are cooperating.

Festo developed the “BionicSoftHand”. The human hand is a natural model for the gripper. According to the company, it will be pneumatically operated to enable the BionicSoftHand to interact safely and directly with humans. Artificial intelligence will allow “the bionic robot hand to autonomously learn to solve gripping and turning tasks, similar to the human hand in interaction with the brain”.

Efficient and productive
Robots are already proving successful in day-to-day industrial life. For example, the TWISTER® from Wafios “meets the highest standards of quality with extremely fast processing, making the manufacturing processes efficient and productive,” the company emphasises. The Twister® robot bending system is not a traditional bending machine, but “a compact all-rounder that meets the manifold requirements of bending tasks as well as the handling of the most complicated bending parts”.

The TWISTER® provides a bending system that can even be used with pipe-hose combinations. “This base, combined with a KUKA robot, forms an unbeatable team,” says Wafios. This technique allows the system to achieve a significant increase in productivity.

MiiC OPTON (Europe) is also continuously developing its robots. For example, a MiiC OPTON (Europe) 6-axis robot with bending head is guided on a bed. The robot traverses the guideway to bend a work piece, which is held by the chuck in a fixed location. “In its driving mode, the robot performs loading, unloading, all movements of the feed between two bending points as well as rotation and bending,” explains the company.

Energy and data
There are many things to consider in the field of robotics, for example, energy and data management. Leoni developed intelligent solutions for robot energy supply and drag chains. "These make it possible to avoid the unplanned shutdowns of a plant and so reduce maintenance costs," explains Leoni. This makes production more efficient.

Energy supply systems and drag chains supply energy to robots and production facilities and ensure the connection to the controller and sensors. “They are exposed to very high levels of daily production and can lead to costly unplanned production downtime when data and power cables on robots and drag chains fail due to wear.” Leoni therefore developed intelligent cable systems that actively monitor, analyse and transmit their condition. “The clear aim is to avoid downtimes in production and increase plant availability in production.”

Lucrative orders
Investments in robotics have long been worthwhile. For example, Leoni was commissioned by Volkswagen to equip 1,300 robots for the manufacture of electric vehicles from the MEB (Modular Electrification Modular System) platform at its Zwickau site with the LSH3 hose package solution. This way Leoni assists VW in the conversion of the production site for combustion vehicles to a pure e-mobility site, which should be completed by the end of 2020.

At the VW production site in Zwickau, Leoni equips the robots with the LSH3 hose package solution for joining techniques such as welding, handling, lasering, clinching or gluing. In addition, the project includes the installation of floor wire sets, in other words, the wiring from the robot or the stationary tool to the robot controller.

The development around robotics is speeding forward in the fast lane. Companies who want to stay on the inside track to success should therefore take a very close look at them. Because lucrative orders beckon.

News and trends on robotics will be presented at wire and Tube Düsseldorf from 30 March to 3 April 2020 at Düsseldorf Fairgrounds.

Published in Events
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Tuesday, 27 May 2014 22:35

New Equipment for Tube Manufacturing

tube 2016Part 1: Asia, East Europe and South America  
New, modern tube plants are emerging worldwide on a continuous basis. Currently, the primary geographic areas affected are Asia, East Europe, South America and, most importantly, the USA. German companies – particularly from North Rhine-Westphalia – are partners in many of these projects, participating either in the entire manufacturing plant or in partial areas.  

The German machinery and plant engineering sector is expecting actual growth at the rate of approximately three percent in 2014. Outgoing VDMA president Dr. Thomas Lindner announced this prognosis during the general meeting – which takes place every three years – in October 2013 in Stuttgart. The industry managed to recover almost fully from the slump of 2009 with a 24 % increase in production in the years between 2010 and 2012. The economists at VDMA expect a production value of EUR 195 billion for 2013 – the same amount as in 2012.  

The decline in turnover in the metallurgical plants and rolling mill equipment sector recorded in 2011 and 2012 is expected to level off. For this reason, the VDMA association for metallurgical plants and rolling mills predicts a slight stabilisation in the course of the year for 2013. As of mid-2013, the trade association was forecasting a 5 % increase in turnover and a 4 % increase in incoming orders for the year. Admittedly, not everyone is happy about new plants – especially when they result in increased capacity. “Excess capacity remains a fundamental problem in the world markets,” writes for example the German Steel Tube Association in its current annual report for 2012. “The Chinese manufacturers’ capacity expansion – which seems to lack sufficient market-economy based scrutiny – occurs particularly threatening.”  

German manufacturers of metallurgical plants and rolling mill equipment play a significant role in this sector – not only economically. Their products also enjoy an excellent reputation for their solid engineering. Among other factors, this is in part due to the fact that the industry has managed repeatedly “to offer plant and machine design concepts that enable customers to manufacture their products more competitively,” according to Heinrich Weiss, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the SMS Group in Düsseldorf.  

Higher Efficiency and Profitability in Tube Manufacturing
SMS Meer in Mönchengladbach is responsible for the tube sector as a business group. It is here that the directube® method was developed, which allows more efficient and economical production of copper tubes than before. Next to reduced production costs, the quality of the finished products, energy efficiency and environmental considerations – as well as efficient use of raw and input materials – were primary focal points of the development.  

With directube® copper tube production, copper cathodes are formed directly into mother tubes. Compared to the traditional extrusion process with subsequent cold pilger rolling, the directube® process saves several time-consuming intermediate steps: extrusion, preheating and one of two intermediate annealing stages.

The directube® method consists basically of two production stages. In the first stage, the copper cathodes are melted down, tube shells are continuously cast in multiple strands, and the surfaces are milled. In the second stage, the tube shells are cross-rolled in a planetary cross-rolling mill and coiled. Finally, the mother tubes are process into the desired end products.

The steel tube production process is being further developed with the same tenacity. A new detaching mill developed by SMS Meer for a Voestalpine Tubulars plant at the Kindberg, Austria location promises to deliver a high level of plant availability and product quality. As a technological innovation, the detaching mill features a hydraulic quick-release mechanism that ensures speedy lifting of the mill in the case of a jam, preventing damage to the product and the machine.

Seamless Tubes up to 20 Inches in Diameter
There is also news to report in the area of dimensions of seamless tubes. After around two years of construction, Jiangsu Tianhuai Steel Pipe (Jiangsu, China) began operating a new 20" PQF tube rolling plant for seamless precision tubes in late 2012. The new plant – the world's largest continuous tube rolling plant – is equipped to produce seamless tubes up to 53 mm in diameter. The plant has a production capacity of 500,000 tons per year. "The maximum diameter of 20 inches is a record," rejoices SMS Meer Project Director, Roland Preuten. "This opens the door to an entirely new performance level for PQF seamless tubes."

Developed by SMS Meer, PQF (Premium Quality Finishing) technology is designed to ensure a continuously high level of tube quality inside of tight tolerances, as well as reliably high productivity. For the 20" tubes, SMS Meer designed the largest cone-type cross-roll piercing mill with a roll diameter of 1,700 mm. Since a PQF rolling mill has three rolls that uniformly encompass the tube, it distributes the force much more evenly than the conventional two-roll configuration.

A new groove-dressing machine is slated to go into operation in the production of seamless tubing at Interpipe Niko Tube in Nikopol, Ukraine in early 2014. According to SMS Meer, this three-axis groove-dressing machine improves production accuracy while shortening processing time. With the KR III 33 CNC groove-dressing machine, grooves in the rolls are fully automatically machined. Each operation takes less than 30 minutes. A measuring mechanism automatically records the stand and roll data, making it easy to modify the groove forms.

Increased Productivity in Tube Welding Lines
SMS Meer developed a tube welding line for Arvedi Metalfer Do Brasil in Salto (Brazil) that is designed for a capacity of 150,000 tons per year. The range of dimensions includes tube diameters from 33.4 mm to 139.7 mm and wall thicknesses from 1.5 mm to 8.0 mm. Tube lengths from 5.0 m to 12.6 m are possible. The tube welding line is capable of a maximum production speed of 130 m per minute. With the new line, Arvedi is able to manufacture precision thick-walled tubes with round, square and rectangular cross-sections.

"Thanks to the innovative quick-change systems, the line is on average about 30 percent more productive than conventional solutions," explains Michael Cottin, Vice President – Welded Tube Plants at SMS Meer. "In addition, Arvedi can adapt flexibly to changes in market requirements for welded tubes. Orders for increasingly small lot sizes with a variety of dimensions require plant solutions with short changeover times and minimal downtimes."

These newly developed inline and offline quick-change systems make changeovers to new tube dimensions possible in as little as 90 minutes to two hours. SMS Meer's CSS Quicksetting System plays a special role in this: Among other things, this computer-controlled system ensures that the rolls are automatically set exactly to the required working position after such a dimension change.

Expanding and Straightening on One Machine
SMS Meer designed a mechanical expander with a newly developed straightener for a Tenaris Confab S.A. tube rolling plant in Pindamonhangaba, near São Paulo in Brazil. The innovative AGT (Advanced Geometry Technology) allows precise calibration and straightening of longitudinally welded pipes with small diameters and large wall thicknesses on a single machine. Pipes such as these are required for offshore pipelines that are laid in extremely deep waters. Tenaris Confab produces up to 450,000 tons of tubing annually, in diameters ranging from 12" to 48" and wall thicknesses from 6.4 mm to 40 mm. The longest tubes produced by Tenaris are 12.5 metres.

According to SMS Meer, AGT is a flexible and efficient solution for straightening large pipes that become bent due to the heat supply during submerged-arc welding. For the first time, pipes can be straightened selectively in all directions during expansion, eliminating the need for downstream straighteners. Compared to conventional solutions, this new design is expected to produce better straightening results via over-bending. Moreover, strain on the expander mechanism is minimized. The machine is designed for diameters up to 30 inches. In the case of larger diameters, the units can be entirely separated from the machine, which also allows for easy tool change.

More Cost-Efficient Production of Small, Thick-Walled Tubes
A new gap closing press developed by SMS Meer with a press force of 25 MN was constructed for Izhorsky Trubny Zavod (ITZ) of Kolpino, near St. Petersburg (Russia). The new press allows for more cost-efficient production of tubes with small diameters and large wall thicknesses. The new method promises to triple productivity compared with a single JCO long-stroke press.

First, heavy plates are formed quickly and precisely using a JCO pipe forming press. The remaining gap is then reduced to a minimum in just a few steps using the new gap closing press – a requirement for a safe tack welding process.  The result is highest quality pipes with extremely low tolerances for demanding applications. In addition, the new gap closing press is the first to utilize the VSP (Variable Speed Pump) technology. According to SMS, this modern and extremely efficient hydraulic drive offers a significant reduction in energy and maintenance costs.

Also in Russia, JSC Vyksa Steel Works in Vyksa successfully put a new gap closing press from SMS Meer into operation in late 2013. With the new machine, the company has modernized its large-diameter pipe production line while significantly increasing its productivity. Pipes with these special dimensions are required in particular for offshore pipelines. The specially adapted forming and closing processes are controlled by the SHAPE software developed by SMS Meer, resulting in high-quality pipes with very low tolerances for demanding applications. This gap closing press also features VSP variable speed pump control, which reduces the machine's energy consumption by up to 50 percent compared to earlier-generation machines.

Pressure Control System with Reduced Cycle Time
Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe (SMLP) in Siegen, Germany has been using the globally unique HTM (Hydrostatic Testing Machine) from spiral tube manufacturer PWS since the second quarter of 2013. With this machine, up to three pipes of different lengths can be tested simultaneously on three test stations, with a total cycle time of only 48 seconds (for 16 inches/12 meters). This represents a time saving of 30 percent per test. Moreover, it is possible to test different diameters and lengths simultaneously. Each section can be individually and independently controlled.

"The new facility marks a significant improvement of the strategy for hydrotesting and pipe manufacturing," states Michael Stark of PWS. "The need to sort out shorter pipe lengths during the manufacturing process for testing at a later time is eliminated, which is an enormous advantage in terms of production logistics and throughput. The extremely fast and extraordinarily precise pressure control system rounds off the technology package." Thanks to its state-of-the-art technology, the modern pressure control system offers a high level of flexibility and efficiency.

Part 2 of the article covers new tube manufacturing plants in the USA. The significant increase in gas and oil production there is causing local and foreign manufacturers to invest in new tube mills. This benefits plant manufacturers worldwide, who of course also participate as exhibitors at the world leading trade fair Tube. The next international tube and pipe trade fair takes place from 4 to 8 April 2016, once again simultaneously with the international leading trade fair wire in Düsseldorf.

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The aerospace tubular parts manufacturer SL Engineering is continuing its investment in advanced automation with the acquisition of a second all-electric CNC tube bending machine from Unison.

The new machine enhances SL Engineering's manufacturing capabilities, especially its ability to produce more complex tubular shapes. It also extends the size range of tubing that can be bent using all-electric servomotor-controlled movement - to tube and pipe diameters up to 80 mm. 

2014-04-24 074320"Engine and aircraft manufacturers are taking advantage of the advanced shape forming capability of state-of-the-art tube bending machines by specifying more complex shapes and highly challenging tighter-radius bends - to save weight and space and eliminate welded joints," says Shaun Stevenson of SL Engineering. "The sophisticated bending capability of Unison machines, which allow greater control over tube clamp and carriage push forces, helps us to achieve these new levels of precision. If we did the same jobs on our old hydraulic machines we would be much more reliant on highly skilled operators to bothset up the machines, and make the parts with additional weld joints, and hence additional cost."

SL Engineering (SLE) is one of Europe's leading Tier 1 suppliers of rigid tube assemblies and precision machined parts for aerospace applications, and supplies components to major engine and airframe programs from commercial Airbus and Boeing aircraft to leading military programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Although the aerospace sector accounts for a large proportion of turnover, SLE also provides parts for industrial gas turbines, marine propulsion, and other critical industry applications.

SLE's business today is characterised by a need for manufacturing flexibility. The average batch is around 5 to 25 parts, and orders can even be for just a single emergency 'aircraft-on-ground' part. Demand for greater precision and shape complexity is another major facet of its work. Until recently, few tubular parts required bends with radii of less than 2D (twice the tube diameter). Today, however SLE regularly receives requests for bends of 1D, and for shapes with minimal straight sections between bends. The use of thinner walled tubing, and expensive specialist materials such as titanium and Inconel are further trends.

These demands are behind the company's moves to all-electric tube bending technology. SLE installed its first such bending machine in 2010 - a 30 mm diameter Breeze from the UK manufacturer Unison. Much of SLE's work is on diameters of 30 mm or less, and most of its current work falls into the sub-50.8 mm range. The first all-electric machine has proved critical for SLE, allowing it to handle small batch set-ups much more efficiently and quickly - with zero or minimal scrap. As a result, the company channels most new work for smaller parts onto the 30mm all-electric machine, and transfers many older parts onto the machine by creating new bending programs as orders come in. After almost four years of operation, the 30 mm machine now produces a significant proportion of SLE's business. SLE typically has anywhere from 500 to 1000 live jobs at any one time.

The latest machine that SLE has acquired, a Unison Breeze 80, now gives the company all-electric CNC tube bending options for tube diameters up to 80 mm. The machine also incorporates a multistack/multiradius tooling capability. This feature is a critical aspect of achieving some of the complex tubular part shapes and multiple bend sequences that are being specified on today's aerospace programs.

"We continue to see many challenging opportunities in the sector, but it does require significant capital investment," adds Stevenson. "The new Unison bender, along with further investments in 5-axis machining, has helped SLE take its manufacturing capability to a new level. We can meet the most complex tube assembly specifications that aerospace companies require today, and the combination of advanced machinery and our know-how gives us a platform to raise the bar even higher, and differentiate SLE from our competitors. Another service we offer to clients who are able to provide us with pre-release drawings, is evaluating manufacturability and advising on the potential for manufacturing and cost saving improvements before final drawing release."

As an example of the exacting specifications that SLE faces, one current part for a military fighter program calls for a shape with multiple 2D bends but minimal straight sections between bends, using thin wall titanium tubing. Tube ovality also has to be less than 5% after bending - as compared with an industry norm of 10% - and the part shape has a positional and length tolerance of just +/- 0.005 inches after bending and welding. As the part is made from titanium, bending must be right first time as adjustments after shape forming are almost impossible. The consistency and repeatability of the Unison machine is a critical enabler for fabricating this part, as well as other titanium tube parts that SLE currently makes.

Another aspect of the advantages of the Unison machine for a contractor such as SLE is the ease of programming. Tubes are often the last parts to be defined and designed - whether they are for an engine or airframe. Using its own bespoke macro-driven CATIA V5 closed-loop CAD/CAM facility, and Unison's three-dimensional simulator, SLE can create new CNC bending programs for the Unison machine very rapidly - providing ideal support for clients that are unable to supply tube/pipe details until the very late stages of projects.

"All-electric tube bending technology has given this client both a rapid return on investment, and a means of tackling emerging challenges such as bending exotic materials," adds Steve Haddrell of Unison. 

SL Engineering Ltd has the fullrange of in-house resources required to offer complete solutions for the manufacture of specialised rigid tube assemblies and precision machined components used in some of the most demanding applications in the aerospace, industrial gas turbine, marine, oil and gas, and medical industries. Founded in 1959, SL Engineering has always specialised in high-precision tubular assemblies - from a starting point of products for motorsports applications. Today, the company employs around 50 staff. Its core capabilities include CNC tube manipulation, CMM tube inspection, multi-axis CNC machining for manufacturing complex end fittings, plus all required support processes including welding, brazing, assembly, pressure testing, and NDT (dye penetrant and x-ray inspection). To support its work in aerospace, SL Engineering has attained qualification to many key industry standards including AS9100 (Rev C) aerospace quality management systems, BS EN ISO9001, and NADCAP special process approvals for welding, brazing and NDT. To reinforce its position as a leading tube assembly specialist, SLE has also achieved SC21 award status for the last three consecutive years - making it one of the top performing aerospace organizations in the UK in terms of business performance and continual improvement. This performance has been all the more impressive as SLE also achieved 22% growth in business during 2013.

Published in Ferrous Tube / Pipe
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2014-04-11 104011The new ferritic steel grade VM12-SHC developed by Vallourec has been certificated by ASME (Code Case 2781). It has already been used successfully for many years in European design for modern high temperature power plants and heat recovery steam generators (HRSG) and can now be used for all ASME design. In addition, the product is optimally suited for replacing grade X20CrMoV11-1 superheater pipes in existing power plants. VM12-SHC extends Vallourec's range of ferritic seamless steel tubes for power plants. At the same time, it underpins Vallourec's claim to technological leadership in an application area characterized by extremely high quality demands.

The last three letters of “VM12-SHC” refer to one of the new steel's key properties. Standing for "super high corrosion resistant", they qualify tubes made from this grade for extremely corrosive steam-carrying pipes for high-temperature applications up to 620 °C. The steel's special chemical composition puts it in a performance class unparalleled in its category in terms of creep strength and resistance to steam oxidation.

Outstanding material properties

The ASME certification procedures provided an ideal opportunity for new VM12-SHC to demonstrate its extraordinary behavior under the obligatory tests and checks. As shown by the test results, the steel combines excellent mechanical and physical properties with an oxidation resistance comparable to that of the austenitic steel grade TP347FG and surpassing those of steel grades T91 and T92 by far.

Proven in tests and demanding power plant applications

One of the most important criteria relevant to a material's suitability for a given application is its processing behavior, notably in terms of cold bending properties and weldability. Here too, VM12-SHC passed all the standardized tests (e.g. creep tests, creep rupture tests on tube bends and stress crack detection after welding) with flying colors. Practical experience was already generated on the basis of applications in state-of-the-art coal-fired and combined-cycle power plants in European design.

VM12-SHC is produced at European Vallourec locations. Tubes in the new steel grade are available heat-treated and with wall thicknesses of up to 12 mm.

See the VM12-SHC movie on below also you can download the datasheet from link provided below

Published in Tube & Pipe
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eb-1What does cutting edge technology in inside scarfing mean to the average consumer? What do BLISSart® systems mean for the future economic power of tube manufacturing companies? Can production downtimes and cost be further reduced? Ernst Blissenbach GmbH invites international tube manufacturers and plant engineers to drop by for discussions at their booth G 01 in Hall 6 at the TUBE 2014 in Düsseldorf April 7–11. Participants and interested companies can enjoy a lively exchange with the technical experts of Ernst Blissenbach GmbH and learn more about this interesting art form that is BLISSart® tools for the removal of the internal weld bead in HF longitudinally welded tubes. Top notch solutions that the company is passionate about developing and that keep setting new benchmarks year after year.

As an international manufacturer and global leader in trend-setting inside tube scarfing systems of premium quality the company offers its customers production security for demanding and complex production processes. The customers` needs are met through core competences: Development · Systems · Service. BLISSart® custom tools impress customers with a high degree of know-how, superior precision, intelligent technology, durability, integrative broadening of potential and an effective increase in production output, resulting in considerable cost savings. Ernst Blissenbach GmbH has received many accolades for their innovations and was again awarded the coveted "Best of Industries Award 2013" for its welding seam monitoring.

Nobody realizes how valuable that is even for the average person. We all encounter the indirect results of the intelligent technologies of the Ernst Blissenbach GmbH on a daily basis. In our cars for example, some of which contain up to 80 m of tubes that have undergone inside scarfing by eb. What we receive is just a little bit more peace of mind. "Maximum continuity is of the utmost importance to us", says Ernst Blissenbach. And the founder and owner is not only referring to the close cooperation with longstanding customers but also to his relationship with his employees and social stability. "We are all part of our economy and should create jobs, stabilize the economy, demonstrate commitment to our region and society and prove our innovative drive on a daily basis. When you decide on the brand Ernst Blissenbach you take a decision for more flexibility, economy and sustainability.“

Published in Processing
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sigmanest logo imtSigmaTEK Systems, LLC, the world’s leading authority on CAD/CAM nesting and manufacturing process automation, announces an upcoming free webinar.


“Laser Tube & Pipe Cutting Solutions”

Date: Thursday, April 3, 2014

Time: 2:00 PM (Eastern)

  •      Maximize material usage and increase cutting time for round, square, rectangle, triangle tube/pipe and structural material (I-Beam, H-Beam, etc.)
  •      Learn the latest in laser or plasma nesting/cutting technology
  •      See SigmaTUBE® nesting technology

Information & Registration

Information: To register, or for more information, visit

Contact: Brad Stropes at Tel: 513-674-0005 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Production Equipment
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Manufacture of multi-level warehouses for storing and retrieving bar, tube, sheet and other material automatically, and production of an extensive range of sawing machines for cutting material accurately, are the two specialisms of the German firm, KASTO, whose UK subsidiary will be exhibiting at MACH 2014. The group, which has recently entered its sixth generation of family ownership and management, is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year.

Better known for its high performance sawing products, the company has been actively promoting its workshop / dealer range of machines for the past year. The programme comprises smaller bandsaws, circular saws and hacksaws and MACH 2014 will be the first time that all three ranges will have been shown at a national exhibition. Aimed at jobbing shops, they are designed alongside the company's high-end sawing machines and are manufactured at the company's factory in Schalkau/Thueringen.

The saws range from pull-down models priced at a couple of thousand pounds to automatic machines costing ten times more. During 2013, marketed under the slogan 'quality for all budgets' and supported by a new website, they accounted for 35 per cent of sawing machine sales by value in the UK, up from 20 per cent the previous year.

The three models on display will be the KASTOfunctional U bandsaw with length stop arrangement, the KASTOradial M6 circular pull-down saw, and the KASTOhbs1 power hacksaw.


KASTOfunctional U

The KASTOfunctional pivot-type bandsawing machine with hydraulic infeed is available in manual, semi-automatic and fully-automatic versions, with suffixes M, U and A respectively. The semi-automatic machine will be on the stand at MACH.

It is of solid construction with a robust, torsion-free welded base for rigorous use in workshops, capable of cutting material up to 260 mm round / square. Mitre-cutting to the left at up to 45 degrees and to the right at up to 60 degrees can be performed on tube, section and solid material. The mitre angle can be adjusted without having to alter the material position to achieve the correct cut length.

Precise ballscrew drive ensures exact positioning of the stock prior to cutting. The hydraulically actuated, horizontal clamping vice ensures accurate sawing to length without slippage and also allows short rest pieces, minimising material wastage. Cutting speed is infinitely adjustable from 20 to 110 m/min to suit any type of metal, even tough varieties. The BasicControl with swivelling operator’s panel ensures optimum machine operation via function keys. Up to 98 programs can be preselected.

KASTOradial M6

KASTOradial is a family of cold circular saws including four manual, pull-down versions designated M4, M6, M7 and M10 and two semi-automatic models, U7 and U10.

With two cutting speeds for universal use in workshops, the KASTOradial M6 is ideal for straight cuts and mitre cutting on both sides within 45 degrees. A double vice with quick clamping lever provides security for holding bar stock. A 315 mm diameter HSS saw blade, length measuring stop and re-circulating coolant system are standard equipment.


For around half the price of a workshop range bandsaw, the KASTOhbs1 power hacksaw provides an economical alternative facility for cutting. Used widely in workshops, including on ships, the design is popular for jobbing applications on a variety of metals where space is limited, performance is of secondary importance and small volumes of cut pieces are involved.

The KASTOhbs 1 is a hydraulic, semi-automatic model with two cutting speeds in a pushing, arched cutting motion invented by KASTO in 1947. Cutting pressure is infinitely adjustable. Requiring minimal floor space, the machine is designed for light to medium workshop use and is ideal for cutting profiles, beams and solids. Mitre cutting from 0 to 45 degrees extends the machine's versatility.


There will be demonstrations of a high-performance, 430 mm-capacity KASTOtec AC4 KPC bandsaw cutting 200 mm diameter, 316 stainless steel in 3.8 minutes minutes using a coated carbide blade running at 70 m/min. The emphasis will be on the measures that have been taken to manage and minimise vibration, which leads to higher band speeds and feeds, increased production output, lower noise levels, better accuracy and surface finish, and longer blade life.

Bandsawing productivity has increased by 300 to 400 per cent with KASTOtec bandsaws that have been factory-fitted with KPC (KASTO Performance Cutting) technology. It takes a holistic view of all aspects of the bandsawing process including blade guidance and monitoring, cutting parameters for the material, machine construction, coolant delivery, the control system and blade selection.

KASTOtec AC-series machines feature a steel / mineral cast composite construction that is six to eight times more vibration-absorbing than cast iron. The machine has a powerful main drive through a rigid, play-free, spur bevel gear delivering 98 per cent of the available power directly to the drive wheels.

High precision cuts are a result of having blade guides as close as possible to the stock on both sides and maintenance-free linear guides for the hydraulic infeed. Together with feedback of cutting force, blade speed and position, they provide consistent feed per tooth, irrespective of the ambient temperature.

Overlaid on this already high specification is the new KPC package, which KASTO has developed to improve cutting productivity still further. The focus has been on minimising vibration during cutting. Key steps taken include new blade guidance on both sides of the cutting area (patent pending) and a novel measure to dampen vibrations using a so-called ‘Trumguide’ system.

Central to the step-change in performance, it is a simple yet effective device. Two spring-loaded tensioner guides are mounted at the returning side of the blade, inside the top of the saw head guarding at either end. These guides have the effect of suppressing vibration on the side opposite to the cutting action.

KASTOunitower C

A KASTOunitower C storage tower for sheet metal will occupy a large area of the stand. The space-saving tower stores 3 metre by 1.5 metre sheets, plates, flat products and other materials such as bar, tube, boxes and semi-finished goods in a compact footprint. It offers many advantages compared to conventional storage on shelves, cantilever arms or on the floor.

The tower is especially suitable for job shops, machine shops and small to medium size sheet metal processing facilities, providing flexible storage to a height of up to 7.2 metres. It has a compact footprint of 3,415 x 4,350 mm and the standard version has a storage location every 47 mm.

The pallets holding the sheet metal glide on almost wear-free, plastic-lined tracks when pushed into or pulled out of a storage location within the steel structure. A lift mechanism travelling at the front of the tower effects horizontal transfer of the material as well as traversing vertically between locations at up to 8 m/min.

Depending on design, pallets can support a maximum load of either 1,200 kg or 3,000 kg. The height of the loading / unloading station is adjustable, allowing direct transfer to a sheet metal processing machine or transport cart. This raises production efficiency, improves safety, saves labour and minimises the risk of damaging the material.

Versions of the KASTOunitower C are available for semi-automatic or fully automatic operation, with appropriate safety measures. The tower is controlled by KASTO's own BasicControl, which is fitted with a user-friendly touch panel.

170th anniversary

To coincide with its 170th anniversary, the KASTO group will unveil a revolutionary new product range on 7th May 2014 during an open house to be held at its headquarters and main factory in Achern, southern Germany. The company is saying little about its new product before the launch, but the implications are that it represents a major step forward in bandsawing technology and in the company's manufacturing process.

On 18th, 19th and 20th June, the Milton Keynes subsidiary will hold open days at its showroom and technical centre. The new machine will be on show again, along with many other bandsaws, circular saws and hacksaws from the manufacturer's wide range of products. Automated warehousing of bar, tube, profile and flat material will also be demonstrated.


Published in Ferrous Tube / Pipe
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Monday, 17 March 2014 10:30

Turbex MACH 2014 preview information


Turbex will launch at MACH 2014 a fully automated version of the ultrasonic Versa cleaning line fitted with a new basket transportation system under programmable logic control. The lines are among the most compact and capable aqueous cleaning systems on the market.

Bespoke installations built from modular tanks and components are capable of washing, degreasing, rinsing and drying batches of industrial components to a high degree of cleanliness and uniformity. A customer may specify any combination of processes to define a system that can be expanded or altered after installation, if required.

Typical cleaning processes include ultrasonic or immersed jet cleaning, single or multiple water rinsing, and hot air drying. Particle filtration as well as oil separation can be included, according to customer requirement. A PLC with user-friendly operator interface allows convenient control over all machine functions.

Another facet of the design is the inclusion of degassing as standard. This removes air dissolved in the water resulting from emptying and filling a tank. Presence of air is undesirable, as it takes energy out of the ultrasonic action and reduces its effectiveness.


The Elba cleaning machine from Turbex.

Basket and jets move independently

Turbex will show the Elba model from its range of spray cleaning machines. Intended for high precision applications, the machine uses a world patented system whereby the movements of the holding basket and the spray jets are individually adjustable, allowing them to rotate in the same or opposite directions.

Each program can therefore be tailored, together with other movement options such as rocking of the basket, to clean efficiently even the most complex of parts. Another notable point about these high quality machines is that they have integral condensing systems, so there is no need for extraction to be fitted.

The machine has a dual wash tank, integrated warm air drying and an easy to use control that stores cleaning programs without complicated codes. A folding loading door is standard, although a vertical sliding door can be specified for use with automatic basket transfer for unmanned operation.

Processing of larger components

A heavy duty Turbex aqueous washing machine will be on the stand, designated AC-1.3, from the supplier's range of front-loading, spray washing and rinsing models. They have proved particularly popular in the UK for degreasing, precision cleaning, phosphating, paint removal, de-rusting and de-scaling.

Manufactured from stainless steel, the AC programme comprises both single- and multi-stage units with options for one, two or three process tanks. Standard sizes range from one to two metres in diameter, although larger machine sizes are available.

These PLC-controlled machines provide a high level of cleaning performance due to ingenious design principles combined with high spray pressures and liquid flow rates achieved by the powerful pump. The spray system, also of stainless steel, rotates around a fixed load that can weigh several tonnes. Acoustic as well as thermal insulation protect operators from undue noise and heat.

Air blast and hot air drying stages are optional, as is gas instead of electric heating. Other optional accessories include steam extraction, automatic refill, an oil skimmer or separator and a detergent dosing unit. A manually operated spray lance with its own impeller pump can also be supplied, allowing particularly awkward soils to be removed. Alternatively, temporary use of the equipment as a manual spray booth is possible.

Bench-top ultrasonic machines

Completing the exhibits at the show will be models from the Turbex range of bench-top ultrasonic cleaning tanks, which can be used stand-alone, as bench-mounted units or as part of an integrated modular cleaning system.

Available in a variety of sizes, they feature a welded stainless steel tank, double lid with thermal and acoustic insulation, thermostatically controlled indirect heating in the side walls, and an electronic control with digital time / temperature display. A level guard cuts off the heating and ultrasonics if there is insufficient liquid in the tank.

A range of options is available, such as stainless steel work baskets, filtration, a storage tank with oil separator, and a hot air dryer.

Published in Production Equipment
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Fine Tubes, a leading manufacturer and global supplier of precision tubes for critical applications, is delighted to announce that it is strategically relocating its office in India to keep up with the growing demand for its high quality tubing products.


As a result of the company’s increased global capabilities, following its partnership agreement with US-based Superior Tube Company, Fine Tubes had already identified the need for additional resources and a larger facility in India.  In order to maintain the highest levels of service across a wider customer base in the region Noida being known as the industrial hub near Delhi, was the first choice for the new office location.

Gagan Sood, Fine Tubes’ Business Development Executive India, commented With an ever increasing demand for Fine Tubes high specification tubes in India and Superior Tubes coming on board as a strategic partner, it was necessary to relocate to a new office with greater resources. The new facility situated in the industrial hub of Noida will ensure we will continue to provide high levels of service to our growing customer base including Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Reliance Industries Limited, Lakshmi Precision Tools and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.”

Published in Ferrous Tube / Pipe
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Thursday, 13 February 2014 15:26

Revolution by Lang Tube Tec

Specialist to launch new lifting table for tube bending machines at the "Tube" in Düsseldorf – Hall 5, Stand G16

The specialist's world première: Lang Tube Tec – the Lorsch-based supplier of quality products – is set to revolutionise the market for tube bending machines with the introduction of an entirely new processing concept. Lang Tube Tec will be using its presence at the Tube in Düsseldorf (Hall 5, Stand G16) to launch the new 80CNC-EMR – the world's first fully electrically-powered automatic bending machine to use a lifting table that creates vertical shift of collet rotation and mandrel retract both at the same time.

80 CNC

The integrated booster for applying additional pressure on the pipe while it is being bent is also driven on the lifting table during the same stage of work. Other highlights of Lang Tube Tec's CNC-E series include the drive-click system for storing motor parameters as well as the entirely new control with intuitive graphic user interface and torque-controlled tube clamping. The model being shown in Düsseldorf will also be equipped with an optical weld seam scanning device that helps always correctly and precisely align the tube's weld seam.

"The new machine concept will enable our customers to break entirely new ground in regard to machine rigidity and machining quality. It will also help considerably reduce set-up times, which will in turn increase productivity," said Head of Sales, Sabine Neff, outlining the innovation's most important benefits. The technological advances mean that it is highly suited for employment in the automotive and commercial-vehicle sectors as well as in the fields of aerospace and shipbuilding.

Compared with the otherwise conventional methods where collet rotation and mandrel retract shifting are effected separately, Lang Tube Tec's innovation realises the benefits of greater rigidity, 100% synchronicity of both units' movement and the decisive advantage that the high booster forces may be applied directly and centrally. "Our new concept means that we're able to prevent the high levels of torque from affecting the sensitive ball bearing spindles," explained Service and Project Manager, Björn Brunner.

Lang Tube Tec's lifting table concept also offers massive benefits over conventional machining processes where the bending head is moved vertically: even with increasing machine sizes, users will still be able to position the tubes at the ergonomically optimised operating height of 1,150 mm and carry out tool changes without straining their backs. Both minimise set-up times and ensure that the machine can be taken quickly into operation so that jobs can be completed even faster. The new machine control with the Siemens Simotion CNC also stands for the speedy and safe execution of work flows because all axes are moved simultaneously.

The fact that the user interface is so intuitive also means that Lang Tube Tec's CNC-E series may even be operated by people without previous CNC training. And because the clamping and feeding forces are torque-controlled, the machine automatically compensates for fluctuations in tube batches. A high-performance simulation program allows the tubes' bending properties to be checked in advance so that any necessary corrections may be made before they are worked. It also allows binary-coded 3D models to be imported to prevent any input errors.

The tools and bending programs used with the 80CNC-EMR may be programmed quickly and the fact that all parameters are stored in the memory means that the machine is always ready for use and doesn't have to be run in beforehand. The bending tools may be changed particularly quickly, the pressure die is simply hung into the T-grooves, the clamp dies slid into the circular guide and the tie rods may be swivelled after the locking pins have been released. The concept may be adapted to existing tool systems.

The fact that maintenance-intensive gas-pressure springs are no longer needed to support the bending head and ball-bearing spindles means that Lang Tube Tec's 80CNC-EMR considerably reduces maintenance requirements while the machine's entirely new enclosure and the concept that uses a separate switch cabinet also allow optimum access for maintenance.

Published in Production Equipment
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