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Bending Rigid Plastic Pipes

Because of its strength, resistance to moisture and electricity, and low cost, plastic piping is a commonly used material with many applications. The process of thermoforming this rigid plastic material involves heating and shaping extruded pipes or hosing using heated compressed air to achieve various shapes for a variety of applications. Bending rigid plastic pipe, regardless of the method used, requires heat and physical bending.

One client in this industry originally came to us seeking a solution for their pipe bending and forming application. Their process involved applying heat to the pipe at key bend points, bending it into the desired shape using a jig, and allowing it to cool so it hardens and retains the contour permanently. Each workstation had a large heater below it that piped heat up to the key bend points needed to create the final product. As hot air was blasted onto the rigid plastic, it became pliable, allowing the operator to bend it to the desired shape at each bend point. However, this solution was very inefficient. The heat delivered through a line from one bend point to the next was inconsistent. At the first station, the heat was excessively hot, causing the plastic to discolor. By the time the heated air reached the last bend point, it had cooled and was insufficiently hot, causing the plastic pipe to shatter when the bend was made.

TUTCO SureHeat replaced this single large, cumbersome heater located below the workstation with a series of small individual Hot Air Tools, located at each bend point in the process. Hot Air Tools are precision electric air heaters with a built-in thermocouple for accurate temperature control. The compact size makes this product perfect for single-phase OEM applications requiring precise high temperatures. Its 304 stainless steel body construction is slotted for flared accessories and is designed to withstand pressures up to 60 psi (4 bar) and temperatures up to 1400°F (760°C). Air is typically supplied through compressed air lines. The lightweight construction and small footprint made the Hot Air Tool a perfect choice for this pipe bending application.

Using TUTCO SureHeat’s Hot Air Tools allows the customer to monitor the temperature at each bend point with absolute precision. This level of control, along with the quick heating capability of our heaters, results in less wasted energy and greater efficiency.

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