The mechanics of ultrasonic tube bending
The technology of precision bending of tubes has recently increased in importance and is widely demanded for many industrial applications. However, whilst attention has been concentrated on automation and increasing the production rate of the bending machines, it seems that with one exception very little work has been done in order to understand and therefore fundamentally improve the bending process. A new development for the process of draw-bending of tubes, in which the supporting mandrel is axially vibrated at an ultrasonic frequency, has been perfected. A research programme was undertaken to study the mechanics of tube• bending under both vibratory and non-vibratory conditions. For this purpose, a conventional tube-bending machine was modified and equipped with an oscillatory system. Thin-walled mild steel tubes of different diameter to thickness ratios were bent to mean bend radii having various values from 1.5 to 2.0 times the tube diameter. It was found that the application of ultrasonic vibration reduces the process forces and that the force reduction increases with increasing the vibration amplitude. A reduction in the bending torque of up to 30 per cent was recorded and a reduction in the maximum tube-wall thinning of about 15 per cent was observed. The friction vector reversal mechanism as well as a reduction in friction account for the changes of the forces and the strains. Monitoring the mandrel friction during bending showed, in some cases, that the axial vibration reverses the mandrel .mean force from tension to compression and, thus, the mandrel is assisting the tube motion instead of resisting it. A theory has been proposed to describe the mechanics of deformation during draw-bending of tubes, which embodies the conditions of both "with" and "without" mandrel axial vibration. A theoretical analysis, based on the equilibrium of forces approach, has been developed in which the basic process parameters were taken into consideration. The stresses, the strains and the bending torque were calculated utilising this new solution, and a specially written computer programme was used to perform the computations. It was shown that the theory is in good agreement with the measured values of the strains under vibratory and non-vibratory conditions. Also, the predicted bending 'torque showed a similar trend to that recorded experimentally.