CNC (computer numerically controlled) machinery has revolutionized the manufacturing industry. All repetitive fabrications - including stamping, cutting, bending, and punching - can now be automated (though some manufacturers have chosen to carry on traditional manual bending practices).
CNC machining allows manufacturers to make tube bending services highly competitive with - if not straight up better than - tubular steel joint welding in many applications. We've outlined the reasoning and most prominent considerations below.
CNC Tube Bending Services vs Joint Welding: 3 Key Considerations
These considerations are crucial to making the decision on what is best for your project.
Obviously, if you choose CNC tube bending, you don't have to pay for welded fittings, which can easily drive projects up thousands of dollars. Welding itself comes with preparation and finishing requirements that tube bending does not.
CNC tube bending also decreases the amount of labor, defects, and waste involved in tubular steel fabrication. All of these factors directly contribute to costs. The amount of labor involved in cutting and welding tube segments is huge, which quickly drives up costs.
Similarly, welded sections are more likely to be defective, as there are more factors at play: quality of the cut and quality of the weld are only two.
CNC tube bending services allow for decreased lead times overall. Computer automation means quick setup, quick changeovers, faster throughput, and shorter cycle times. A CNC tube bender will pump out consistently high quality tubing much faster than a joint welder can complete those same parts.
CNC benders can also take on large quantities and series in a single production step, which removes unnecessary, costly transitions from the manufacturing process.
CNC tube bending services shine when it comes to quality.
- Any computer-controlled process will produce a high level of consistency, accuracy, and repeatability across the whole project.
- It also allows for more complex part forming operations.
- The computer interface gives the operator a huge degree of control over the bending process.
Further, computers are programmed for a variety of quality assurance protocols and corrections, which they perform automatically. The computers have programmable speeds that optimize bending and eliminate wrinkling and cracking. They can be programmed for automatic measurement and springback correction.
As we mentioned before, the cutting and welding process creates more opportunities for defects in any given part. Tube bending eliminates the potential dangers presented by welded fittings and joining points.
CNC Tube Bending Services
Today, most tubular steel manufacturers offer automated tube bending. If you're not currently using CNC tube bending services for your projects, ask your manufacturer about this capability.
Some projects, especially those where tubular steel is used in structural applications, may require joint welding to increase corner strength. However, for consumer products and fluid transportation applications, CNC tube bending could save you a lot of money.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published on May 9, 2016 and was republished on October 9, 2019 to reflect updated insight and resources.