Tools for pipe fabrication & welding

Written by shane grey
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Tools for pipe fabrication & welding
Welding creates strong, pressure-resistant joints. (welder image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com)

In applications ranging from pressurised boilers to industrial-grade water supply systems, pipe fabrication and welding tools are used to cut pipe to length, create joints and securely fasten parts together. Pipe fabrication tools include both manually operated equipment and motorised machines. Become familiar with the tools professional pipefitters use for pipe fabrication and welding, and choose the right ones for your project.

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Pipe Threading Machine

The pipe threading machine, often simply called a "pipe threader," creates screwlike threads around the exterior of a length of pipe. Pieces of pipe mount onto the machine, and the machine's motor pushes and turns the pipe's end into a thread-cutting device, called a "die." Threaded pipes may be attached to pipe connectors, called "fittings." The tool used to create internal threads is called a "tap."

Roll Groover

The roll groover creates a channels, or "groove," around the ends of a pipe. Specialised fittings, called "couplings," precisely fit into the grooves of adjacent lengths of pipe, creating a strong, pressure-resistant joint. Fittings are generally tightened with a high-torque wrench and install quickly compared to welded joints.

Hole Cutting Machine

Like the carpenter's drill press, this machine stabilises material while driving a sharpened cutting bit through its surface. The hole cutting machine bores through pipes with a sharp-toothed or abrasive cylindrical drill bit. A pipe fabricator mounts pipe to the tool's stationary base by means of vice-like grips, aligns the bit and lowers the spinning bit through the pipe's wall. A hole cutting machine creates accurate holes prior to welding.

Pipe Vise

The pipe vice holds pipe securely in place as a fabricator performs cutting, welding and fitting tasks. The pipe vice is essentially a heavy-duty, large capacity clamp. The tool mounts to a bench, table or sometimes a truck bed. Atop the vice, a T shaped handle allows a fabricator to raise or lower the tool's clamping mechanism. The fabricator inserts a pipe into the vise's open mouth and tightens the handle to lower the mouth, and grip and hold the pipe.

Arc Welder

An arc welder melts metal to create connections between pipes or fittings. An arc welder's distinguishing characteristic is its use of electrical current to produce heat. The tool typically consists of two basic parts: a large, boxlike body that directs the electrical power and a tip through which the current runs and the heat may be applied. At the end of the handheld tip, current runs between two electrodes, creating an "arc."

Oxy Welder

An alternative to arc welding, oxyacetylene welders employ gas to create heat. The flame of this welder burns at temperatures up to 3316 degrees Celsius and cuts or welds most metals. While oxy welders provide extra power, their fuel and operating costs often exceed those of other welding equipment.

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