Tube end forming has a wide range of applications, from strengthening the end of the tube to creating a mating point for hoses or other equipment. Since there are so many potential applications for end forming, there are a variety of methods used in their fabrication as well. The specific method chosen depends not only on the type of end forming that is desired, but also on which aspects of the fabrication process are most important to you. For tube beading, the two most common processes trade-off between speed and accuracy.

Roll Forming vs. Ram Forming

Tube beading is commonly done using either a roll forming or a ram forming process. Roll forming or roll beading is a method of compressing the end of a tube to form a bead. This process has the effect of strengthening the tube, and it can also provide extremely high tolerances. It is often used in cases where meeting exacting specifications is more important than the overall speed of the fabrication process. Roll beading can also be cost effective for fabrication runs that only involve a few parts, as relatively small, inexpensive roll beading machines are available.

Ram forming is a much faster process. Ram forming machines work by applying pressure to a tube end using a formed punch. This deforms the tube end evenly, but is generally not suitable if exceptionally tight tolerances are required. It is still sufficient for most fabrication needs, however, and it is often used in industries where large numbers of parts must be fabricated. Since it requires specialized tooling, it is less commonly used for small runs of parts or individual parts where exacting tolerances are needed.

Which Process is Right for You?

Selecting an end forming process for tube beading is primarily a matter of choosing between speed, specification tolerance, and tooling costs. Ram forming can produce a large number of parts to a highly consistent standard, but you should expect to pay more upfront to cover initial tooling costs. If you will be working with a large number of parts or consistently placing large orders and can amortize the costs, then ram forming is worth considering.

If, on the other hand, you will only be working with a small number of parts, then it may be worth considering internal roll forming instead. Since this process can provide you with tighter tolerances, it works well for initial parts runs or prototype parts.

Ultimately, the best way to determine the right process for your particular fabrication project is to speak with a skilled metal forming shop. Their experience in working with a variety of different project types will help you to select the best and most cost-effective process for your fabrication needs. Contact a company, like Accubend Inc., for more help.