Common Aerospace Applications for Tube Bending
In aerospace, poor part quality poses significant safety hazards and may result in catastrophic failures. As such, aerospace firms only work with experienced manufacturers who understand the stringent quality standards of the sector. At Woolf Aircraft, we have spent nearly 80 years perfecting our craft, providing a wide array of high-quality aerospace tubing. Thanks to our AICON Tube Inspect technology, our experienced team can continually ensure the quality and accuracy of each item we fabricate.
Importance of Tube Bending and Fabrication for Aerospace
The term “tube bending” encompasses several types of forming processes, each designed to permanently alter the shape of a tube or pipe. Aircraft require reliable tubing and piping for a variety of applications, both inside and outside the craft. Depending on the material and size specifications, manufacturers creating aerospace tubing may utilize any of the following tube bending processes:
Rotary Draw Bending
Ideal for thin-walled products that require single, multiple, or compound bends, rotary draw bending provides internal tubing support through the use of a mandrel. By providing a balance of pressure from within and without, the rotary draw process can eliminate wrinkling even in thinner tubing.
Unlike rotary draw bending, compression bending does not provide internal support to the tubing. This process is best for straightening or for creating single bends with large radii. Compression bending works by clamping or otherwise stabilizing the tubing, then using direct force to create the bend.
For projects that exclusively require large radius bends of up to 360 degrees, roll bending is ideal. This process isn’t compatible with small radius bends, as the bend here is formed by pushing the tubing through a set of three rollers to create a large arc. As roll bending does not utilize a mandrel, the interior of roll-bent tubing will be unmarked.
Materials for Tubing
Tube bending is a versatile process, with a number of material options. Depending on the intended application, we may fabricate aerospace tubing from any of the following materials:
- Titanium – Has a lifespan of 20-40 years, with a high strength to density ratio and good corrosion resistance.
- Aluminum – Lightweight and an excellent heat conductor.
- Inconel – A corrosion-resistant superalloy of nickel and chromium that can withstand extreme temperatures.
- Stainless steel – Highly versatile, with resistance to water and corrosion.
- Copper – Ductile and malleable, making it easy to form; corrosion-resistant, and conductive.
- Hastelloy – An easily weldable, corrosion-resistant alloy of nickel and cobalt.
- Exotic alloys – Includes stainless steel 21-6-9, aluminum B210, and the aluminum 7000 series.
Common Aerospace Tubing Applications
Aerospace tubing has many potential applications. Below are some of the most common.
- Tube assemblies. Tube bending can create tubing components in assemblies for fuel distribution, cooling, and ventilation.
- Potable water systems. Aerospace tubing may be used in the creation of water systems following the Aircraft Drinking Water Rule to ensure that all aircraft have safe drinking water.
- Exhaust Systems. The tubing in exhaust systems serves many purposes, including pushing exhaust gases out of the aircraft and providing cabin heat. This tubing must be of the highest quality to avoid carbon monoxide leaks.
- General and interior ducting. This tubing is used in high- and low-pressure parts of the aircraft. Potential applications include engine starters, acoustic silencers, and windscreen demisters.
- Hydraulic systems. These reliable tubing systems help activate vital equipment such as brakes, landing gear, and flaps.
- Intermediate-stage cooling ducts for turbine engines. Tube bending provides piping for ducts within turbofans. These use mechanical energy to push air to the rear, contributing to the aircraft’s thrust.
- Refrigerant lines. This piping connects an indoor evaporator coil with outdoor air conditioning or heat pumps. The system includes an insulated tube carrying cool gas, and an uninsulated tube carrying warm liquid.
- De-icing systems. There are three major types of de-icing systems that may utilize aerospace tubing. Pneumatic systems inflate boots to crack ice on the wings, electric systems use heated elements or antifreeze pumps to prevent the formation of ice, and air bleed systems divert warm air from the engines to melt ice.
- Fuel lines. This tubing routes fuel through engines. Bends are necessary to absorb strain from the aircraft’s vibrations and temperature changes.
- Intake systems. These systems move fluid through the engine to balance internal and external pressure, particularly during takeoff and landing.
Tubing Solutions for Aerospace
At Woolf Aircraft, we understand the vital role that our products play in the safe operation of aerospace equipment. Contact us today to learn more about our expertise and capabilities.