A metal tube at first seems like a simple object – round, long, and cylindrical. While the idea may be simple, the manufacturing and use of this design is far more complex than it may seem on the surface. Consider drawing a perfect circle or a straight line freehand. You’ll likely get the idea, but be plagued by small imperfections. If you try to duplicate the process, you’ll easily end up with different sizes. Now extrapolate this process into 3 dimensions, at high speed, with materials not easily malleable at room temperature and you’re starting to get the idea of what goes into the Mair Research tube division, as they create the machinery needed to make these industrial tubes.
A short history of tubes in manufacturing
The simple pipe has been around for centuries, possibly as long ago as reed water pipes in 2000 B.C. Over the centuries materials evolved to provide greater strength and expanded use, with the steel pipe becoming common in the 1800s. Early pipes were created from flat sheets that were heated and welded together at a seam, then rolled and milled to perfect the shape. This method was quickly replaced with a technique referred to as the “butt-weld” where heated sheets were drawn through a cone-shaped opening. This cone process was expanded for manufacturing to create a seamless metal soon used in bicycles, automobiles, and also the oil and gas industry.
While multiple tube manufacturing process is used today, the primary pipe production material is still steel, which may be treated by different chemicals or combined with other materials like aluminum to create an alloy. All of the processes involve converting raw material into a more workable form, forming a pipe with this material, then customizing this pipe to the customer’s need.
Manufacturing tubes through high-tech machining
The manufacturing technique for different tubes will vary. Specialized machines help create the exact parts needed for each industrial tube including:
- Draw benches used to draw out the malleable metal can have different cycle times and be operated by either chain or rack and pinion system.
- Straightening machines come in different sizes such as 6 or 10 roller systems and can be used with hot or cold straightening processes, including Upset or Plain ends.
- Multihead cutting machines keep your tube from being endless, using either HSS or HM cutting blades in automatic, programmable cycles that provide simultaneous cutting of the tube for high levels of production.
- For those that use a welded tube, the welding bead must be removed before use. These plants can choose from different ID flushing and blowing stations, with quality models able to eliminate some of the normally associated noise with this process.
- Facing and chamfering machines ensure finished tubes are in compliance with market standards.
- Hydrostatic testing machines are very important for industries such as oil and gas, also called OCTG. Make sure your manufacturer follows the Pressure Equipment Directive.
- Threading machines ensure smooth, non-leaking tube junctures in important pipes. Look for Landis and Wagner threading heads.
- Industry purchasers won’t carry your material one tube at a time, so the packaging machine are important. Choose from square or hexagonal bundles which can be created via mechanical blades, magnets, or suction cups.
While a product may seem simple at first glance, quality industrial tubes take significant work, and that work can only be done with the right machinery. As tubes and piping have evolved over time, so have the processes used to make these tubes, leading to high-production effective industry practices.