5th October 2017

We pride ourselves on the metal fabrication knowledge held here at Addison Saws. It's the result of over 60 successful years in the metal cutting industry. With this in mind, we would like to explore the basics when it comes to the two main types of tube bending machines available. In particular, we'll be looking at the differences between mandrel and non-mandrel machines. 





· Mandrel / Non-Mandrel

· Size & manoeuvrability

· Bend Capacity & Capabilities

· Cost Implications


Mandrel / Non-Mandrel:


Mandrel – the first obvious difference between the two is the mandrel element. A mandrel consists of 2 parts, the mandrel rod and the mandrel attachment with both fitting together to create a supportive device. This rod supports the material and the attachment protects the tube from the inside. For tight bend radii or thinner materials, such as in 1D bending, this support is a must. Without the mandrel element, the stress of the bend would cause the tube wall to collapse or deform. Mandrel machine use results in a visually pleasing finish, by eliminating deformations, a crucial element to some industries.








Non-Mandrel – Machines without the supporting rod. They are compact and more versatile in smaller workshop spaces. 

This doesn’t mean that they are inferior to the mandrel machinery, they can be as equally efficient. It does all depend on what applications you are using the machine for. For example, where bends aren’t tight or complex a non-mandrel machine can produce an equal result. It's important to note evidence of some brands giving results incredibly close to a mandrel machine. 

Mackma BM76





Size & Manoeuvrability:


Size is always important when thinking about workshop or factory space. Mandrel machines can be large pieces of equipment, the largest machine in our showroom, the CSM 80 TSR-RBH CNC, measures 18ft. Such models need equipment like cranes to move them around the factory when required.



Non-mandrel machinery can be very compact and versatile when space is an issue. The lack of a mandrel rod calls for robust bases and tooling, often much smaller in size. These bases can be easily positioned with the help of a simple pump truck or forklift. Smaller models can even be table mounted.



In conclusion, consider the floor space needed if you are bending long lengths, including the space for loading systems if bending in bulk.If you are short on space but bending smaller pieces of material, non-mandrel machinery is better suited. It all depends on what you are bending, the material you are using, the finish you need, and the space you have available.



Bend Capacity & Capabilities:


Each machine model will have different capacities and capabilities. The diameter of tube each bender deals with is usually included within the machine model. i.e. BM-34 (indicating this machine has a capacity of up to 34mm) use this as a guide for selecting your machine based on material. 



Mandrel machines were designed to achieve complex or tight diameter bends that need a high quality finish. They're generally CNC programmable, and can work through material stock automatically if there's a loading system. Without the automatic system, loading is a manual process.



Non-mandrel machines are either manual or semi-automatic and used for small batch runs. Recent developments have resulted in certain brands, such as MACKMA, replicating finish quality of mandrel machinery. As the loading process is manual on non-mandrel machines a trained operator needs to be present for moving material between bends.



Pick your manufacturer wisely. Some might tell you that tooling isn’t interchangeable between brands, tying you into a particular brand. Look for companies who have adapted their machines to use other tooling brands – this way you can source the most cost-effective tooling from a number of companies.



Cost Implications:



If you’ve read through the points above, you’ll have a good idea of what comes next. Mandrel machines are the more expensive of the two options. The build involves more components, and they are technologically sound as well as having extensive software packages. 

undoubtedly offer superior results together with high volume output. They also cost more in terms of maintenance.



The non-mandrel machines and tooling aspect do come in at a much lower price. and require much less space so if you have a smaller workshop these would definitely be the best choice for you.



Of course we do supply both mandrel and non-mandrel machinery here at Addison Saws together with PBT bending machines, which have added functionality in that they can work with aluminium extrusions, and the manufacturer specialise in difficult applications. 



Our manufacturers – CSM (mandrel) and MACKMA (non-mandrel) are both globally renowned and have been proven in production in terms of quality and reliability time and time again. We generally have all three brands available here at our showroom in Lye, Stourbridge so if you require a demonstration, please do get in touch.



Alternatively we do have technical service personnel out and about all over the UK, if you would like to arrange a visit from them to discuss the machinery and the benefits to your production in more detail, again please get in touch. 01384 264950


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