Tube Mills and Pipe Mills manufacture pipes and tubes of different complex configurations. They serve, first and foremost, to deliver a composite material uncompromised at both end points. Their basic shape and physical properties give them inherent structural strength to withstand compressive pressure, which means that they are ideal for delivering pressurized streamable media (e.g. water, fuel) through potentially hostile environments without the risk of spillage.
A tube milling machine generally consists of two primary components: a base with a rotary screw or spindle; and a cutter, which is rotated to cut shapes into the base material. A wide variety of materials can be processed using these machines; in fact, some are commonly referred to as “tube mills,” because they manufacture the majority of the pipe and tube products in use today. Some of the common industries that utilize these machines include: aerospace, petrochemical, chemical, power generation, petroleum, communications, and transportation. The following sections identify the basic properties of these machines, as well as an overview of the different types of milling.
Shape forming is one of the most common uses for tube mills. Shapes can be formed into smooth curves, conic sections, cylindrical shapes, and even hollow shapes. For the most part, these devices must be manually operated, but some designs are now “plug and go” designs that use a push-pull motion to form any shape into the desired application. In addition to manually operating the forming unit, the machine may also be electronically operated for large shapes that cannot be accomplished manually. This type of operation is often referred to as “gravity fed” fabrication.
Roll forming is another popular method of manufacturing products with this device. Roll forms can either be manually drawn or electronically operated. In the case of manually drawn forms, the process begins by loading the material into the forming machine feed tray. A die head is then attached to the end of the material, which rolls down the inside of the tray in a reciprocating motion. Once the material is completely loaded into the feed tube, the machine is turned on and the process begins.
Vacuum tube mills are used to manufacture materials in a smaller diameter range than is possible with standard machines. This is particularly useful in applications where the finished product must be size appropriate to the particular application in question. For example, in filling cavities, the diameter range generally accepted is 0.fd measurement, which would translate to an air tight filling of up to 0.00cd in diameter. Smaller diameter tubes would lead to insufficient sealing for applications requiring a higher degree of accuracy.
Wire feeders are used to manufacture precision components with an output diameter range from three-eighths to one-third of an inch. They are typically used in applications requiring extremely high quality control. Wire feeders usually have a threaded steel case and are available in both round and metric sizes. There are even some feeders that are available with interchangeable removable bottom holes. These are ideal for applications where there is a need to modify the diameter range of a component to fit into a specific slot.