by Breana Cronk, IQS Editor
Less than a week away from the official start of the season, the signs of summer are abundant throughout the state of Michigan. Schools are letting out, water parks are filled with loyal patrons waiting in long lines for the cool relief offered by the oversized slides, both motorcycles and bicycles line the streets and sidewalks and the most popular camping sites are just about at capacity. As Michiganders slosh down giant water filled tubes at high speed, balance precariously on the framework of a bike or wrestle with unruly canopy and tent frames; it’s unlikely that most will consider the industrial processes that make each of these pastimes possible. More than just a summer commodity, tubes and tube fabrication play an important role in recreation and daily life throughout the year.
While tube forming is responsible for the creation of hollow cylinders from raw materials, tube fabrication includes all of the secondary operations needed to transform a simple cylinder into a finished product, be it a water slide or tent pole. Though seemingly straightforward, fabrication facilities actually house a tremendous amount of variable equipment operated by highly skilled professionals. Tube cutting, bending, flaring, swaging and rolling are just a handful of the many operations that may be required for the creation of an individual part or component. Even within a single division the work may vary greatly. Tube bending, for example, can be performed manually or through the help of CNC machinery and may be wrinkled or use mandrel bending machines for a smooth finished curve. As is probably discernable from the diversity of tube manufacturing, tubes are used for much more than summer recreational activities.
Photos courtesy of Woolf Aircraft Products, Inc.
The possibilities of tube fabrication are limitless, hence the wide use of these structural elements in not only the summer, but the fall, winter and spring as well. From safety rails to automotive fuel lines, tube or pipe fabrication has a tremendous impact on the practicality and safety of daily life as well as summer time fun. In fact, these carefully formed and fabricated elements are incredibly diverse. Used as safety rails, automotive components, architectural supports, tripods and so on and so forth, tube fabrication engineers design precision products for a number of industrial, commercial and domestic applications. While the word safety is only attached to their use as railings, tube fabricating is important to the sound design of products and buildings used year round.
More than just a mainstay of the tube and pipe industry, tube fabrication processes allow for safe and efficient creation of carefully crafted components and products that are safe, practical and often times enjoyable. From the massive pipelines precision fitted for water slides, sleek and slender poles of tents and accessible safety rails to the lightweight frames of bicycles, tubes provide millions across the state of Michigan, the nation and even the world with purposeful products for the summer months and throughout the year. While there is no shortage of appreciation for water slides in the hot and humid months of a Michigan summer, brief as it may be, it is also important to consider the industry that makes such recreational activities as well as every day conveniences possible: tube fabrication.