Swagelok Tube Bending Training Makes The Learning Curve Easier
by Jeff Hopkins, on 7/2/14 8:00 AM
There's art as well as math behind getting the most from a length of tubing
Ever see the printed instructions that come with a new tube bending tool? Most people haven't. They learn to use the tool either through trial and error, or they find someone willing to pass along their expertise. We make it easy to gain that expert knowledge with our tube bending classes.
We have created a Tech Tip video to show you the very basics of tube bending. But there's more to skilled tube bending than merely bending a tube. Good layout and execution can enhance the esthetics of a system and reflect on the quality of the product. Skilled technicians know how to properly plan and measure a job so that they have the minimum of scrap pieces left over.
Most of the classes are for people who have only limited knowledge about tube bending, according to Jason Burns, our technical service manager. But if we get a class of experienced benders, we can still show them some tips that they might not necessarily know.
The class is designed for anyone who works with tubing, including the fabricators, contractors and technicians who assemble the systems. Engineers and draftsmen who design tubing systems have taken the class to get a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of bent tubing systems.
Even the labor unions covering the tube fitting trades turn to us to teach apprentices who hope to become journeymen, as well as journeymen wanting to increase their skills. Each year, we provide tube bending training at one or more of the local pipe trades training centers.
Plain and fancy
In fact, there are several methods of tube bending. When people need to know the basics, we teach them a simple technique that will produce satisfactory results. For people with advanced skills, we teach Swagelok's own method, which is more involved and more accurate. For companies that go through a lot of tubing in a year, the more involved method can mean big savings. One customer came to us when the company realized it was tossing out about $50,000 worth of scrap tubing each year.
"If you are willing to do more math, you will have more exact lengths," Burns explains.
Like most other skills, the longer a person does it, the better they usually get. That's very important in the field, where the crew may not have a set of drawings to work from. All they are told is to run the tubing from Point A to Point B, and to avoid various objects along the way.
"Some guys have gotten so good at it, it's like a work of art when they are done," Burns says. "When you see the complexity of the bends in the systems these guys are putting together, it is awesome."
We also have several different tools that bend tubing. Our classes focus on our hand tube benders, but we also have bench-top models, plus a heavy-duty tool for bending tubes with an outside diameter of up to 2 inches.
Burns has an appreciation of good tube bending because he went through the training himself. Like many people who work at Swagelok Northern California, Burns worked his way up from an entry level job in our warehouse. He took the certification course, and then attended more classes to learn the details of our training methods.
"It didn't seem terribly difficult at first," Burns said. "But once you start to look at all the aspects of bending and trying to duplicate a drawing to spec, that's where it can become kind of daunting."
There's always something new to learn. Even some veteran tube benders have remarked that they thought they already had learned all the markings on the tools, but after our classes they realized there were some they hadn't known about.
Are there aspects of tube bending you wish you knew about? Join us at our next hands-on practical tube bending seminar get more info »
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