CNC tube bender combines RH/LH bends

CNC tube bender combines RH/LH bends

CNC swing tube bending machine automatically performs a combination of right- and left-hand bends, including tight radius bends and compound bends

The BLM CNC Swing tube bender can perform a combination of right- and left-hand bends, in automatic cycle, including tight radius bends and compound bends. It suits, for example, automotive applications where there may be little if any ‘straight’ section between bends. Each of the two bend heads can be rotated through 180 deg.

They accept up to four sets of tooling for multi-radius components.

The heads can also combine conventional draw bending with variable radius bending.

This facility generates curves and sweeps within one component.

The combined right- and left-hand BLM CNC Swing tube bending machine is located in Acorn Engineering Services’ Kings Norton, Birmingham, UK, and is the ‘pride and joy’ of father and son team Jim and James West.

‘It sums up the reasons why our customers stay with us,’ said Jim West, who started the business in 1989.

‘We use latest technology tube manipulation equipment and expect to get the best from it’.

‘This is because of our combination of tube manipulation expertise and experience in the design and manufacture of tooling, both for our own use and for other sub-contract and in-house tube manipulators’.

Equipped with a PC-based control and with up to 16 axes programmed using BLM’s VGP 3D software, the 32mm OD capacity machine is capable of producing complex geometric shapes in the shortest and most efficient bending cycle.

One example quoted by Jim West to demonstrate the flexibility of this arrangement is of a wheelbarrow frame with 22 bends in total.

‘The old method involved three separate tubes that needed joining together.

Floor-to-floor time was around six to seven minutes.

Now we feed one length of tube into the BLM CNC Swing tube bender, which is programmed to complete the entire bending sequence in less than 80s floor-to-floor’.

Jim West cannot pointed out that however good the machine user experience still counts and that, in terms of tube component quality and lead times, it is extremely helpful to have tool making skills on site.

Acorn Engineering Services was set up to provide a design service to tube manipulators, covering anything related to tube, especially tooling, and also to design special-purpose machines, one example being a machine that assembled windscreen wiper units.

However, the actual production of tooling was sub-contracted out until, said Jim West, ‘It dawned on me that I was giving away hard-won knowledge.’ It was then that he decided to set up his own tool room and subsequently to take on tube manipulation work.

Both Acorn Engineering Services’ directors acknowledge that BLM GROUP UK has provided an excellent service over many years.

It is one of the reasons why, in addition to the new Swing tube bender, Acorn Engineering Services also has a BLM 3-axis NC832 CNC tube bender and a BLM CNC tube end-forming machine.

Capable of forming, machining and rolling operations on tubes up to 80mm outside diameter, the AST80 CNC end-former enables Acorn to supply tube components ready for assembly into, for example, hydraulic pressure systems and automotive assemblies.

* About Acorn Engineering Services – after completing an engineering apprenticeship, James West joined the family business in 1993 and has been closely involved in the changes that have taken place within the business.

‘There is no conflict of interest as regards our sub-contract tool room service because we tend to be offered the tube manipulation jobs that no-one else wants,’ said James West.

‘This is usually because they are too difficult or because they are relatively low volume.

We have over the years been involved with a lot of automotive work and, despite the impact of low cost global competition and other factors, still produce car seat frames and off-road vehicle access ladders as well as steering column tubes’.

He added: ‘As we have no outside shareholders or other pressures, we are free to do whatever is necessary to satisfy our existing customers and to attract new business.

This means we will continue to invest in new tube manipulation equipment and to provide a sub-contract tool room service, including tooling design, to any trade or in-house tube

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