Forming Shapes With a Tube Mill
The spinning reaper in the vertical milling machine shop is commonly called a tube mill. Although it may be difficult to see, these machines are very similar to the lathe in that they all perform the same basic operation. However, these machines do not require the same level of care and maintenance that a lathe would require. Instead, tube mills only need to be lightly used, and because of this fact, they can be more affordable.
Because the inner cavity of tube mills is enclosed, all the air that would normally be utilized to cool off the moving parts of the machine is replaced by fresh air. This helps to cut down on the power necessary to complete the tasks at hand and help cut back on vibrations and noises associated with electrical equipment. Because the inner cylinder of the milling machine is enclosed, all the particles that would normally be amenable to abrasive grinding processes are not there to do damage. Instead, they are all located in a different chamber, which keeps them from doing damage.
These machines use two discs that spin simultaneously, and this is what causes the friction between the two discs. When a coarse mesh of dust and other particles gets between the two discs, it will cause the grinding action to slow down or cease completely, as it is harder to grind away larger particles of material. Conversely, when the two discs are able to move freely and are not restricted by the presence of particles, then the machine can work much better. Because the tube mill only uses straight-line speed capabilities, it is capable of machining both softer and harder materials.
Unlike a lathe, a tube mill is able to machine into a variety of shapes with a simple change in the wire feed diameter. Since the diameter range is a fixed, and not variable, it only depends upon the manufacturer’s needs that determines what the appropriate diameter range will be for their particular product. Wire feed diameter selection also dictates what kind of custom products can be manufactured.
Many tube mills have an interchangeable plate of varying diameter that can be placed above or below a belt of solid steel or copper, and this will determine what kind of material it will be able to work with. The plates usually range between one and two inches wide, depending upon the size of the desired stamped or engraved pattern, and they are located on the inside or outside of the main plate. Depending upon the type of pattern being worked on, there is a special kind of abrasive wheel that is used in the process. The user can adjust the size of this abrasive wheel in order to maximize its effectiveness.
In addition to working with flat or round objects, many tube mills may also be used for forming other shapes, including the aforementioned cans and bottles, which can be easily welded by adjusting the shape of the flange on the inside or outside of the unit. As previously mentioned, the versatility of this type of unit is one of its greatest assets, as it can be easily adapted for most welding applications. Any time there are challenges with the ability to adapt to new welding techniques, it is always wise to turn to a proven and respected company such as MTH Steel to handle the fabrication process.