Portable machine tools are being custom repurposed as unique, dynamic and practical fabrication tools, offering many advantages over conventional machine shop equipment.
A Split Frame Lathe configured for thin-wall tubing production with a baseplate and full-support pads.
A Model 304 modified to perform angled squaring cuts.
Along with the obvious advantages of their reduced size and expense, portable machine tools are industry-proven for producing high quality fabricated parts. They are especially effective when the production requirements for parts are of infrequent or unexpected demand, making the set-up of large, dedicated shop equipment impractical or cost prohibitive.
Severing and squaring type portable machines are of particular interest to companies looking for a practical approach to tubular part fabrication without the expense and difficulty of converting large conventional shop machinery to a dedicated production role. This class of machinery was designed for precision cutting for construction and maintenance on piping systems for food and beverage plants, and hydrocarbon, semi-conductor, and pharmaceutical production roles.
One of the challenges of tubular part fabrication is the precision cutting of thin wall thickness stock. Parts can become distorted when being cut from too much clamping force concentrated at too few points, affecting the desired shape and uniformity of the finished part. Distortion is a critical issue when parts will be welded by robotic systems that demand the highest degree of consistent accuracy for minimal welding defects. The aerospace industry depends on high-integrity welded thin-wall alloy and stainless tubing assemblies. Many cutting situations require “full support” clamping elements that provide radius matched surface engagement with either the bore or outside diameter of the component being cut. Distortion free clamping can be accomplished by full support collets, saddle sets or contoured support pads depending of the type of machine used.
Working with a portable machine tool OEM that offers custom engineered equipment, accessories, tooling and mounting fixtures can be surprisingly fast and easy. In many instances (i.e., when trying to do an oblique sever to precise angles) the necessary operation can be accomplished with a standard tool combined with a rotary stage to offer a range of cutting adjustment. In other circumstances, if an existing machine can not be modified to perform the specific operation required, custom machinery can be designed and manufactured from the ground up, and still be cost effective if the needed fabrication can not be efficiently and/or precisely done by other means.
Note: This is part of a feature article appearing in April’s FFJ Magazine. View online at: https://digital.ffjournal.net/ or contact us for more information about fabrication solutions.