Tube End Forming: Combined Operations

When it comes to tube end forming, not all processes or end forms are the same. One small change to the end result could completely shift the scope of a tube end forming project. Tube end forms vastly vary in complexity albeit due to their shape or tolerancing. While some end forms may need multiple operations in order to be completely formed, some may be able to benefit from combining operations into one toolset to increase throughput and efficiency. In this iteration of our monthly blog, we will cover combined operations tooling.

Rotary End Forming:

Throughout 20+ years in business, Proto-1 has been approached by many customers seeking a solution for their tube and pipe needs. Many of these needs/problems stem from lack of efficiency and throughput with a current tube process that requires multiple operations. Depending upon the complexity of the tube/assembly, the product at hand can have as many as 3 or 4 operations before its complete.

At Proto-1, we focus on combining processes into one operation, resulting in a quick and efficient tube end forming solution. Proto-1 was tasked by a customer within the automotive industry to simplify the operation for this intercooler/radiator tube (shown below). The end form provides a clamping point for the rubber hose that gets mounted on the end. The outward beads give the hose a tight fit while the knurling provides extra grip. The inverted bead is used a locating/locking groove for the clamp that holds the hose in place.

Rotary Tube End Forming
Triple Bead & Knurl Tooling | RFM-6 or RFM-10

Prior to Proto-1, this tube would require 3 processes to reach a final product: one process for the outer beads, one for the inverted bead, and one for the knurling. Tasked with this challenge, our engineering team developed an all-in-one rotary tool for our RFM platform. This new rotary tool not only combined the additional processes but it accomplished them all in a 13 second cycle time. Click the image below to see this kind of rotary tool in action!

Double Bead Groove Knurl Compressed 2

Single bead and double beaded tubes are used extensively throughout the automotive industry for coolant transfer (shown below). In the past, many of our customers were using 3 processes to produce these tubes. The first process was to cut the tube to the desired length. Maybe tube specifications require a certain tolerance from the face of the tube to the center of the beads. Once cut, usually with a band saw, the tube would then go through a deburring process to remove any burrs on the face of the tube. After deburred, the tube would then be placed into an end former so the beads could be applied. These 3 processes proved to be time consuming and costly for our customers.

Rotary Tube End Forming
Double Bead Tooling | CAM-2.5 or RFM-6

Aware of the situation, Proto-1 developed a rotary tool that beads and cuts the tube in the same process. Using our rotary shear technology, the cut knives shear cut from the inside out without leaving any burrs on the face of the tube. Because of the this, the use for a deburring process was eliminated. As the cut operation takes place the tool as beads as well. Single, double, or even triple beads can be applied while cutting. Bead and cut operations can be achieve in 15 seconds or less depending upon material type and diameter. Check the video below to see a 6″ Double Bead & Cut tool in action!

RFM 6 6 Inch Double Bead and Cut 6 23 17

Ram End Forming:

Proto-1 also has experience with combining multiple operations within our ram end formers as well. Generally, combining operations within a ram toolset can be more difficult since end forms that are ram formed usually have tighter tolerances that other methods of end forming. Fuel filler pipes, the assembly that functions as the access point to any car’s fuel tank, are progressively expanded to their final size. Due to the wide range of expansion that they undergo, these pipes must be progressively end formed to prevent deformation or weld seam splitting. In most cases, our customers will also have to flare and trim the ends of the expansion after the expansion process is finished. In the past, these features would require another 2 processes to achieve. Utilizing a pinch trim operation outfitted on a later set of modified expansion noses, progressive fuel funnel toolsets can expand, flare, and trim within 6 to 7 noses to achieve a final product. In a past project, a punch operation was outfitted into a the die cavity and one of the expansion noses to add a vent hole to the fuel funnel. Overall, with all the operations combined into one toolset, this process was able to save the customer 3 additional processes. Click on the picture below to see this tooling in action!

RAM-40 Funnel Tooling with Punch