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FABTECH 2014: Welding, Tube & Pipe Fabrication

Here are some reviews of the weld fixturing and accessories, tube & pipe equipment and other systems being exhibited at this year’s show.

Booth C-1132: Two smooth ball joints in the Third Hand Clamp from Strong Hand Tools allow you to rotate the clamp arm 360 deg and bend the arm to any position that will give you full access to your part for tack welding, repair, inspection, or finishing processes. Securely lock, and unlock the clamp position with a quick turn of socket head cap screws.
Booth C-1132: Quick-acting, electric-hydraulic Scissor Lift Platforms from Strong Hand Tools raise the BuildPro Table to a height range of 8.5 in to 48 in, with a weight load range of 1,500 lb to 4,200 lb for the three Scissor Lift models.
Booth C-2454: When Velocity contact tips  from Tweco / Victor Technologies were tested in this heavy fabrication application using .045 in and 1/16 in gas shielded flux cored wire, 13 contact tips lasted for five months.
Booth C-564: The all-electric Breeze tube bender from Unison bends tubes and pipes up to 2 in diameter and is ideal for high volume, small batch size production of parts, especially expensive materials such as titanium or Inconel. All of the machine’s motion axes, including its direct acting clamp and pressure dies, feature CNC-controlled precision servomotors to facilitate fully automatic setup and ensure extremely accurate and repeatable bending.
Booth C-1132: The compact Grinder Rest from Strong Hand Tools holds the grinder, wrench, and spare discs. A cable wrap hook allows safe storage of the grinder electrical cord. The spare disc hook keeps discs within easy reach for quick changeouts, and helps prevent discs from getting lost or damaged.

In Booth C-1132, Strong Hand Tools® (Pico Rivera, CA), the manufacturer of innovative Strong Hand Tools® Welding Clamps, Magnets, Pliers and BuildPro™ Welding Tables, introduces their new Third Hand Modular Clamp, a fully articulated, fully adjustable Modular Clamp for holding parts at any position for hands-free access while you tack weld, cut, grind, sand, or paint.

The compact Third Hand Modular Clamp, with its slim profile (1-1/2 in wide), is portable enough to be used anywhere in the shop, or carried along for work out in the field. The universal C-Clamp base (2 in opening) allows for mounting on any flat, square, or angled surface.

Mount the Third Hand shaft to the C-Clamp base either vertically or horizontally for even greater options in work positioning and clamping for worker comfort, and workpiece access. Place parts, or stock, directly in the slotted Adaptor Head, or mount Pliers or Sliding Arm Clamps for holding irregular shaped, square, flat, or angled stock.

Also being introduced is the new easy to use BuildPro Adjustable (Variable Height) Rest that is operated manually, by hand adjustment, with a turn of an easy-grip knurled band for complete control in precise, minute height adjustments (2 in height with ¾ in stroke. Range: 2 in to 2-3/4 in).

BuildPro V-Blocks press fit into the top cavity of the Adjustable Rests to support round pipes. The Adjustable Rests have three mounting options: press fit into any hole on the BuildPro table with the standard 5/8” post, securely fasten to BuildPro accessories such as Riser Blocks or Straight Edge Stops for repetitive applications using the adaptor post with cap screw (included), or “free float” the Rest for temporary usage by removing both the standard post and the adaptor post.

BuildPro V-Block Spacers also press fit into the top cavity of the Rest, adding .45 in height and supporting flat stock or square tubes. BuildPro Modular Welding Tables feature a tabletop surface of CNC machined 5/8 in holes in a 2 in grid pattern on precision ground steel plates for fixturing at any point on the table, allowing users to set-up, tear down, and rebuild fixtures for each unique project.

Also being introduced is the new Scissor Lift Platforms for use with BuildPro Modular Welding Tables. Increase productivity and worker comfort by setting your BuildPro Modular Welding Table at the ideal height for each project. The large push button power control is operated by hand. The Scissor Lifts are made in the U.S. and have a chip resistant powder coated finish with rounded table corners for safety.

Also on display is the new Grinder Rest for convenient tabletop, or table edge, storage of handheld (4-1/2 in or 5 in) grinders. The Grinder Rest bracket has an open design that allows the Grinder to be easily placed for storage, yet retrieved quickly when needed. The four-hole wrench storage pattern accommodates a wide variety of wrenches. Designed by customer demand, the Grinder Rest is an ideal solution for keeping heavily used handheld Grinders, and Grinder components, safely stored near the work area for greater efficiency whether the work area is in the shop, or out in the field.

The easy-to-spot brilliant yellow Grinder Rest is available in two models; choose from the strong magnetic base for placement on any flat steel surface, such as a worktable, or the universal c-clamp base for mounting on a table edge, or table leg.

In Booth C-1304, Tri Tool Inc. (Rancho Cordova, CA) announces the new RBL-G2, the next generation in clamshell lathes. Designed to be faster, better and safer, the RBL-G2 is built for safety, performance and speed. “We wanted to eliminate as many pinch points on the new RBL-G2 as possible. Our engineering team developed an innovative and patent-pending tool block design that allows for the tripper mechanism to remain in a fixed and low-profile location adjacent to the tapered drive housings. The result is significantly fewer pinch points throughout the entire usable range of the machine,” stated Justin Tripp, PE, the manager of engineering at Tri Tool.

In addition to addressing safety, the company examined every aspect of the clamshell lathe design and improved performance, speed and ease of use while maintaining the power and durability their customers have come to expect. The newly re-designed RBL-G2 will now sever and bevel up to three times faster with a new high speed, in-line and right angle motor options in a single drive housing which adds flexibility and reduces machining time without compromising power.

“We’ve also simplified the tool bit setup which should save the operator time and reduce the amount of training needed to operate the machine,” added lead engineer Ash Ferozepurwalla, PE. The new, economical high speed carbide sever kit allows for sequential sever and bevel operations with minimal setup and without having to reposition the clamshell lathe.

In Booth C-2454, Tweco®/ Victor Technologies (Chesterfield, MO) has introduced the world’s first MIG welding contact tip to feature shielding gas injection ports that keep the tip cooler. By running cooler, medium- and heavy-duty VelocityTM MIG consumables improve parts life by up to 500 percent or more in gas shielded flux cored, spray transfer and pulsed spray transfer applications. In short circuit MIG applications, Velocity consumables typically last two to three times longer than conventional threaded contact tips and other drop-in style tips.

An overview and demonstration of Velocity consumables from Tweco.

Tweco will integrate Velocity consumables on its Spray Master® MIG guns beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014, as well as make retrofit kits available for existing Spray Master guns. Velocity consumables feature threadless, “drop-in” style contact tips and integrate the contact tip seating area into the end of the conductor tube. The shielding gas flows from the conductor tube directly through four ports machined into the base of the contact tip. This simplified design eliminates the gas diffuser and better cools the contact tip. Coupled with an all-copper path for better electrical and thermal conductivity, the cooler tip produces a more stable arc. A cooler tip also reduces the ability of spatter to stick; the tip needs less cleaning, and any spatter that adheres is easier to remove.

In Booth C-564, leading tube bending machine manufacturer Unison Ltd (Scarborough, UK) will be demonstrating the breadth of technology that it provides for right-first-time manufacture of precision tubular parts, including the first showing in the U.S. for a novel manually-powered but CNC-controlled tube bender for low volume work, advanced 3D simulation software for efficient offline development of production-ready bending programs, and a highly versatile all-electric machine from the company’s Breeze range of tube benders.
A demonstration of the all-electric Breeze tube bending machine from Unison.

The main exhibit will be an all-electric Breeze machine suitable for bending tubes and pipes up to 2 in diameter. The machine will incorporate multi-radius/multi-stack tooling, allowing the company to demonstrate its ability to create complex tubular part shapes with multiple tightly-spaced bends very efficiently, with minimal set-up time, operator involvement or material scrap.

Also on display will be a brand new version of its EvBend 1000 low-cost tube bender, which is currently under development. Designed specifically for precision low-volume manufacturing and prototyping applications, this manually-operated CNC tube bender will incorporate a new high performance controller, featuring a highly intuitive touch-sensitive user interface and network interfaces for ready integration with other manufacturing machines and CAD systems.

Another display will be advances in CAD/CAM software for tube bending projects. To help customers shorten the time needed to create production programs – and quote on new jobs – the company will demonstrate the latest version of its advanced 3D simulator, Opt2Sim, a powerful PC-based simulation software that enables users to fully analyze, optimize and validate control programs for bending machines very easily and without access to the physical machine.

Based on true CAD models of real machines, the software simulates every single moving component, with comprehensive monitoring to guard against tube collision. Realistic imagery enables users to visualize the entire bending sequence in considerable detail and in real-time. The latest version of Opt2Sim will simulate any model from the extensive Breeze range of all-electric tube benders, which covers tube sizes from 5/8 in to 7 in, and when running in high speed batch mode can typically process about 100 bending programs an hour.

Unison started in business by developing control systems for metalworking machinery, supplying a number of prominent UK machine manufacturers in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1991 the company moved into machinery design, focusing on machines for tube bending. At that time, tube bending machines were powered hydraulically. In the early 1990s the company developed a range of machines employing electrical servo-motors for controlling bending motion. These were the world’s first ‘all-electric’ machines for tube bending. The performance of this new machine design – with its fast and repeatable software-controlled set-up, right-first-time action, low power consumption, and quiet and clean operation – was an instant success.

The company has progressively led the tube bending machinery industry by increasing the tubing diameters that can be formed using all-electric motion and is now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tube bending machines and associated software. In 2014, Unison took another quantum leap in tube bending machine power by developing a servomotor-powered machine architecture that is capable of bending thick-walled piping with diameters of 225 mm and more.


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