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All-electric tube bender sets the pace in set-up speed
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Company: Unison, UK
Attn: Alan Pickering

All-electric 100 mm/4 inch tube bender sets the pace in set-up speed, repeatability and material savings

* optimized for precision small-batch/JIT processes in aerospace, automotive, shipbuilding industries etc

* offers software-controlled changeover between batches, greatly reducing scrap

Scarborough UK, and Madera CA, September 20, 2006 --- Unison has added a 100 mm/4 inch diameter, multi-stack CNC tube-bender to its all-electric machine range. Called Breeze-100, the machine is optimized for high-precision applications, and includes unique operating software, which virtually eliminates the high costs normally associated with machine configuration for small-batch and just-in-time parts production. In addition, energy consumption is a tiny fraction of an equivalent hydraulic bender.

Breeze-100 offers sophisticated programmable control over the rotary draw bending process components, and as a result will cold-bend the most demanding materials with total precision, such as 100 mm/4 inch titanium tubing. Bends of up to 180 degrees can be made, with an extremely high degree of repeatability of +/-0.05mm of distance between bends, and +/-0.05 degrees of bend angle, and plane of bend or rotation. The quality and repeatability of bending meets the most demanding application requirements, from control of fluid flow around tight bend radii, through cosmetic appearance, to compatibility with the efficient hydro-forming tools used in some volume manufacturing processes.

A key element of the new machine is the Unibend Control Software, which Unison believes delivers the most versatile tube-bending capability available worldwide. Unison made the world's first all-electric tube bender in 1994, and the machine control software has been evolved over more than a decade, and now includes advanced features such as an automatic set-up routine. This will automatically sense and clamp a tube, ready for bending - greatly reducing the time required for initial set up. Unlike hydraulic benders, users also have complete control over the bend operation, and can modify the standard bend speed, clamping pressure, pressure die position and force, and mandrel positioning parameters that are applied to achieve the ideal bend. Following set up, all the operating parameters are stored, allowing the machine to be configured for further batches of parts in a few minutes, and without creating any scrap.

"Breeze-100's all-electric actuation eliminates the reliance on skilled setters for configuring machines, and changeovers between batches - boosting a company's flexibility and responsiveness," says Alan Pickering, Managing Director of Unison. "The repeatability that software-controlled set up provides, also greatly reduces scrap. This can often provide payback on the machines within a few months, especially in today's environment with spiralling material prices. This latest machine in our draw bending range extends the benefits to all-electric machines to a range of new applications in areas including automotive and aerospace manufacturing, and shipbuilding."

The control software runs on a standard Windows computer, providing further flexibility for users. This includes powerful diagnostic aids, which allow the engineering team at Unison to help manufacturers immediately with any bending problem, or machine performance issue. The machine includes a webcam, which Unison can remotely access over the internet. In combination with a software 'black box' which automatically stores the last 500 instructions entered by the operator, along with details of machinery positions from the servo motor sensors, Unison can help users to optimize their processes, as well as provide remote maintenance.

Tube bending operations may be programmed in three ways. Programs may be automatically generated by transferring data from CAD software, and Unison has interfaces for all popular packages, and will develop interfaces for any others required - including a manufacturer's proprietary design software. A simple programming template is also available, allowing users to create a program by entering the distance between bends, the angle of bend required, and rotation of the tube. A further option is copying or reverse engineering, by using a tube measuring system to recreate the coordinates from a sample or prototype.

In place of hydraulic force, the Breeze-100 uses servo motors to control the bend process, including clamp, pressure die, mandrel and follower. This all-electric actuation provides significant benefits related to energy consumption, repeatability, and noise reduction. As the actuation elements of the machine need energy only when a bend is being made, total consumption is greatly reduced. In a measured comparison made by one of Unison's users, consumption showed a ten-fold reduction. Further energy may be saved as Breeze machines can be switched off when not in use - avoiding the practice of leaving hydraulic machines switched on overnight and weekends etc, to maintain oil temperature and consistency. Noise is also measurably reduced, with Breeze-100 operating at around 55-60 dB, a level equivalent to normal speech.

The new machine can be supplied to interface with a manufacturer's existing tools, or as a turnkey system complete with tooling. Unison also offers a range of complementary equipment, and an engineering service, allowing the machine to be provided as a complete automated cell, including upstream processes such as tube washing and feeding, and downstream equipment such as end-forming and robotic handling.

Details of the new machine are available at:

     Tel: -44-(0)1723-582868   Fax: -44-(0)1723-582379
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