Monday, 01 June 2015 07:42

Ultra-powerful all-electric pipe bender starts operations at US shipbuilder

Unison has commissioned what is believed to be the largest all-electric tube bending machine ever produced, at Newport News Shipbuilding - supplier of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines to the US Navy.

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Newport News Shipbuilding's Detail Pipe Shop celebrating the first bend made by Unison's ultra-powerful all-electric pipe bending machine. The first part bent was a 6-inch pipe for the John F Kennedy aircraft carrier (CVN 79). Photo by John Whalen, Huntington Ingalls Industries.

The machine is capable of generating over 360,000 Nm of torque and can bend piping up to 8 inches NPS - with an outside diameter of 8.625 inches or 219.1 mm - with Schedule 80 wall thicknesses of 0.5 inch (12.7 mm).

The availability of all-electric, servomotor-controlled bending machines for pipes of this size brings significant productivity benefits to the fabrication of a ship's pipework compared with conventional hydraulically-powered machinery. These include smart software-controlled set-up and right-first-time precision bending - with exceptional accuracy and repeatability. Bend precision is aided by the inclusion of a unique laser-based system that automatically measures and adjusts bend angles for spring-back of the pipe metal.

Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, has more than seven years of experience using Unison all-electric tube benders. The shipbuilder first began using this technology in 2007, when it took delivery of three Unison machines to help fabricate tubing and piping systems for use on aircraft carrier projects.

About Newport News Shipbuilding
For more than 128 years, Newport News Shipbuilding has designed, built, overhauled and repaired a wide variety of ships for the US Navy and commercial customers. In 2011, the shipyard became a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, and is now the sole designer, builder and refueller of nuclear-powered US Navy aircraft carriers, and one of only two providers of nuclear-powered US Navy submarines. With vast facilities located on more than 550 acres along 2.5 miles of waterfront in Newport News, Virginia, Newport News Shipbuilding employs more than 23,000 people, many of whom are third- or fourth-generation shipbuilders. More information:

About Unison Ltd
Unison started in business by developing control systems for metalworking machinery – supplying a number of prominent UK machine manufacturers in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1991 the company moved into machinery design, focusing on machines for tube bending. At that time, tube bending machines were powered hydraulically. In the early 1990s Unison developed a range of machines employing electrical servo-motors for controlling bending motion. These were the world’s first 'all-electric' machines for tube bending. The performance of Unison's new machine design – with its fast and repeatable software-controlled set-up, right-first-time action, low power consumption, and quiet and clean operation – was an instant success. The company has progressively led the tube bending machinery industry by increasing the tubing diameters that can be formed using all-electric motion and is now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tube bending machines and associated software. In 2014, Unison took another quantum leap in power by developing a servomotor-powered machine architecture that is capable of bending thick-walled piping with diameters of 225 mm and more. More information:

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