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Unison's tube bending technology at Southern Manufacturing

06 January 2015

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Unison will be highlighting the breadth of productivity enhancing technology that it offers tubular parts manufacturers at the Southern Manufacturing exhibition. As an authority in intelligent tube and pipe bending technology, Unison supplies equipment to tier one manufacturers worldwide. The company claims to produce the most extensive range of ‘all-electric’ tube bending machines in the industry, backed by an expanding portfolio of advanced software tools to help users accelerate the development of production-ready bending machine control programs.

Unison’s standard range of all-electric bending machines accommodates tube diameters from 16mm to 175mm. The company is continually pushing the performance boundary of this technology, most recently developing a custom machine that is capable of bending thick-walled tubing with a diameter of 225mm. Custom or semi-custom products account for a significant proportion of Unison’s business – the company prides itself on delivering tube bending systems that are tailored to customers’ requirements.

At the Southern Manufacturing exhibition, Unison will outline a new configuration of Breeze 30 all-electric tube bender developed for the aerospace industry. Capable of right-hand and left-handing bending, this machine features multi-stack tooling to accommodate aerospace tube designs with short straights and tight bends down to 1D. It uses a sliding carriage arrangement with a fixed-position bend head to ensure highly accurate and repeatable parts with low setup time and minimal waste of material.

Unison will also be highlighting an entirely new version of its Evbend 1000 manual CNC tube bender, which incorporates a powerful HMI and controller software designed specifically for ease of integration with CAD systems and coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). Combining manually powered tube feed, rotate and bend functions with smart CNC-controlled braking on these axes to ensure precision, this tube bender is a popular choice with customers for producing high-value parts in small batch sizes, where it delivers very accurate parts at a lower price point than a full all-electric machine. The enhanced ease of operation and connectivity of the new version of Evbend 1000 look set to further extend industry take-up of this versatile machine.

Artificial intelligence techniques

Visitors to Unison’s stand will be offered demonstrations of a number of powerful PC-based software tools. These will include the latest version of Unison’s advanced 3D simulator, Opt2Sim, which helps users to accelerate development of production-ready control programs for bending machines. Capable of simulating any model from Unison’s Breeze range of all-electric bending machines, this software enables users to analyse, optimise and validate programs – without needing access to the physical machine. Based on a proprietary precision physics engine with an accuracy of just plus/minus 5 microns, it features comprehensive monitoring to guard against tube collision and uses artificial intelligence techniques to evaluate the optimum bending sequence. The simulator automatically modifies the YBC bending data to create error-free programs and generates realistic real-time imagery that allows users to visualise the bending process in considerable detail. A high-speed batch mode of operation, capable of validating around 100 bending programs an hour, is also available.

The latest version of the TubeWorks tube bending CAD/CAM software package will also feature on Unison’s exhibition stand. Available exclusively from Unison, this specialist add-in module for the popular SolidWorks mechanical CAD package enables users to reduce the time that it takes to develop programs for CNC tube bending, typically from hours to just minutes. The software also now accommodates laser tube cutting.

For tube bending, TubeWorks automatically extracts key manufacturing information such as bend angles and rotations from a native SolidWorks model or a common CAD file format such as STEP, IGES or ParaSolid. It creates a bend table which can immediately be used on a CNC bending bending machine, as well as the XYZ coordinates and a 2D drawing of the modelled tube. The software also now allows users to ‘unbend’ the CAD models of bent tubes into flat (or straight) configurations containing details of all holes and cut-outs, to provide the input data for laser tube cutting machines. Manually flattening a CAD model of a bent tube part requires specialist skills and can take several hours; using TubeWorks, the task can typically be reduced to less than a minute.

To find out more about the intelligent tube and pipe bending technology from Unison on display at the Southern Manufacturing exhibition, please visit www.unisonltd.com.

 
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