Manufacturers who use metal tubing in their products have a few choices when it comes to buying their raw tube material.
High-volume operations usually purchase tubing directly from a mill and use high-speed, automatic tube cutting machines. These cutting systems often transfer the cut pieces directly to a complete production line.
Low-volume manufacturers generally purchase full-length tubing and use a bandsaw for cutting small runs, which is not the ideal way to cut tubing. For one thing, the process is extremely labor intensive; a skilled setup person is required to make the cuts, and even then the cut lengths may vary and end faces may be out-of-square. Furthermore, the saw-cutting process can leave sharp edges and burrs, so another operation is often required to chamfer or deburr the cut pieces.
There are also safety considerations when running full-length tube bundles. Lifting and loading 20-foot-long tubes into a tube saw requires special equipment such as an overhead lift or fork truck. This process requires more skilled operators and may still be dangerous for those working with the tubes. Additionally, the long tube bundles take up a large amount of floor space, and leftover tubes must be stored, requiring the shop owner to designate valuable floor space. This leads many low-volume manufacturers to purchase “just in time” and “just enough” to get the jobs done, which leads to higher prices per piece, often by a significant margin.
Should you consider buying tubes already cut-to-length?
On the other hand, many of the major steel service centers improved their value-added processing by adding a Hautau tube cutoff lathe. These machines utilize a servo-driven, rotating cutting head that cuts, chamfers and finishes tubing using a highly efficient process. These rotating head cutoff machines offer several advantages, including:
- Square cuts. Because the tube is held rigidly by a pair of precision chucks and does not rotate, the tube end faces are perpendicular to the tube centerline within .001” per inch of tube diameter.
- Accurate lengths. Cut length are more repeatable when the tubes are advanced and positioned by high accuracy servo drives. The rotating-head cutoff system gives you consistent, reliable length cuts time after time.
- Because the chamfering step is integrated with the cutoff process, there are no sharp corners or burrs.
- Short changeover time. One of the biggest advantages of a rotating-head system is the time savings, particularly during changeover. Because these machines can setup quickly for small batches, even with widely varying specifications, the tube supplier can offer competitive pricing on small orders and still deliver the cut tubes in a few days.
Does your metal supplier use Hautau rotating-head tube cutoff lathes? If not, contact us today so that we can put you in touch with a supplier who carries these time- and money-saving devices. If you are a high-volume tube fabricator, contact us directly to speak to one of our application engineers about upgrading your cutting line. Hautau is ready to work with you to give you the right equipment to produce high-quality tubular products and still save money!