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Buying a cheap flange facer machine: what are the risks?

Posted by Alan Hillier on Jul 19, 2017 11:41:02 AM


    

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The old expression “you get what you pay for” is one that rings true for many products, and with flange facer machines this is no exception.

Your company’s procurement manager may be in favour of shopping around for the best price, (which is understandable), but do they have the knowledge to select the products that offer the best value over the longer term?

Before you opt for the cheapest machine, we recommend you read through these essential considerations. It could save you from the embarrassment and expense of failed machining projects.

Build quality

Flange facing machines are an essential tool that help towards flange joint integrity. With the stakes being so high do you really want to place your trust in a poorly designed product that is flimsy and constructed from inferior materials.

A badly constructed machine will not only have a shorter lifespan, but is likely to produce disappointing results.Stability is vital to ensure good results. If a machine moves during the machining operation it will cause damage to flange’s sealing surface. (See picture below). To avoid this, choose a flange facer that is robust does not ‘scrimp and save’ on the amount of metal used in its construction.

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Above: Damage caused by machine movement during flange facing

Choice of base units

If you are looking for a large flange facing machine, some are available with more than one base supplied as standard. These allow you to machine a wider range of flange sizes, avoiding the use long base legs, which are sometimes unable to provide a secure base to mount the machine onto.

Feed settings

There’s two schools of thought here, some field machinists prefer a variable feed, allowing for a greater range of finishes. The downside is that these can be fiddly to set up and difficult to ensure consistent results.

The alternative is to choose a machine incorporating fixed settings. The chances are you will be looking to produce a spiral serrated finish close to ASME specifications, so take note of the number of gears the machine has and ask how many grooves per inch each gear produces.

Tool post design

The tool post is a key module on the machine. As well as affecting the quality of the cut, the way in which it is designed can open up more machining possibilities, such as using an axial feed for boring and counter-boring.

Conversion kits for extended capabilities

Anticipating the scope of your future projects is the key here. In addition to the typical raised face flange machining jobs, what other projects are you likely to get involved in?

Consider specifying a flange facer that can be easily converted to carry out other tasks, such as compact flanges, lens ring machining, valve boring, journal turning, orbital milling and the back facing of heat exchanger flanges. Choosing a compatible machine at the outset could save you from the need to purchase other specific machines at a later date.

Support

So, you’ve chosen the best machine matched to your requirements and it ticks all the boxes. Is there anything else to consider

Additional areas to look at include: the length of warranty period, availability of spares, training offered by the manufacturer and the quality of the manuals provided with the machine. Additionally, you could ask whether there is a nominated technical support representative covering your region.

Summary

Hopefully, we’ve given you enough extra insight to help you make the right decision next time you are looking to procure a flange facer. If you need further help we encourage you to get in touch with your regional contact using our enquiry form, or by using our online chat service available on our main website.

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Topics: flange facing

   

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