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Addison McKee : 11 October, 2002  (Company News)
Lancashire-based tube bending specialists, Addison-McKee, have recently completed contracts for the supply of two innovative, high-speed bending machines for use in the European domestic plumbing component industry.
In a departure from their traditional field of activity, involving the manufacture of precision tube bending machinery capable of providing inventive bending solutions for today’s highly complex car and truck components and exhaust systems, the Preston company was approached to design and create a high volume tube bending solution for a German specialist plumbing component supplier.

“Four joints every seven seconds”.

With the current European trend towards replacing the traditional copper piping
used in household water systems with long-life stainless steel products, a cost effective bending solution was required. Based on the customers calculations, in order to meet the required production volumes, no less than four 90-degree or four 45-degree elbow joints would have to be formed every seven seconds.

Rapid re-tooling required.

Working with pre-cut stainless steel tubing, the Addison-McKee machine would have to be sufficiently flexible to allow tubes in the range of 12mm-28mm to be bent, with a maximum tool changeover time of just 25 minutes.


An additional precondition was that, on leaving the bending machine for subsequent
threading or fitting with an “O” ring, all tubes must be totally unmarked and burr-free, with no additional machining being necessary. With stringent environmental considerations in mind, it was also stipulated that the hydraulic system used must be “leak free” (working to a maximum leakage rate of 50ml per valve group over 528 hours of operation).

Technological solution.

Commenting on the contract, Addison’s export sales director, Graham Wood said: “When we initially considered the customer’s requirement, it was evident that no single cut and bend machine would be able to meet the production volumes required. What was needed was a truly innovative solution - one that would rapidly bend several pieces of tubing at a time. Through close consultation with the customer - and by taking our thinking processes right back to the drawing board – we engineered a technological solution that successfully met all criteria.”

The Addison-McKee EB28HS4.

Whilst Addison-McKee already had experience of creating a two/three stack elbow bending machine for copper, in order to meet the needs, a completely new, highly specialised CNC bending machine was created.

Designated as the EB28HS4, the new model was an electrically powered, hydraulically operated tube bender capable of accepting tubing of up to 28mm maximum diameter, working at high speed, and operating to bend four components at a time. The set-up incorporates four sets of mandrel bend tooling to achieve the required quality.

Integrated and high-speed.

Describing the manufacturing process provided by the EB28HS4, export sales director, Graham Wood, continued: “As the customer already had a pipe cutting and de-burring solution in place, we developed an integrated manufacturing cell whereby pre-cut lengths of stainless steel tubing were despatched into a vibratory ball feeder, taken by conveyor (at volumes of up to 1000 tubes, each measuring 28mm max. dia. x 165mm long) to where they would fall into a tooling element at a rate of four tubes at a time. A high-speed hydraulic cylinder then rotates the tubular components to load the specially designed fourtube bending die. Bent components are then gravity fed onto a conveyor line for supplementary threading or “O” ringing operations.”

Achieving all requirements.

In creating the EB28HS4, Addison-McKee fully met Nirosan’s requirements. Through
considerable investment in new technology, the specified maximum hydraulic leakage rate was achieved. Whilst simple start-up and shut down procedures enabled tool changes to be brought right down to the 25 minutes required. Most significant of all, the specified production cycle of four elbow joints every seven seconds was comfortably achieved.

The Addison-McKee machine is freestanding, with the hydraulic fluid tank forming an integral part of the structure. The bending motion is provided by a servomotor driving through a reduction gear head, which in turn dives a pinion and helical ring gear to produce a 100-degree maximum of bend angle.

Siemens control.

The control system for the machine is based on a Siemens 840 D controller and all
electrical control gear and axis drives are integral to the machine, mounted in an electrical cabinet secured to the base frame.

Meeting CE standards.

The machine offers simple shut down and set up for tube diameter changes, and is
programmed to inform the operator if the elbow collection box is full. It also carries the CE mark for safety, with safety stops integral to the design.

Further contract.

As a result of the successful installation of the first EB28HS4, Addison-McKee has
subsequently been employed to provide a similar installation for another leading Germanbased plumbing components manufacturer, Viega.
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