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Pipe Cutting and Beveling Machines: Key Questions Before You Buy


There are plenty of companies offering pipe cutting and bevelling machines (aka clamshell cutters), so finding a supplier shouldn’t be a problem. But for many small service companies, buying or renting a pipe cutting and beveling machine may be a big investment that needs to be handled carefully.

You might be on a short timescale, but instead of quickly agreeing a price with the first brand you discover on Google, why not take a step back to review your requirements carefully? The more information you can give your supplier up front, the better your chance of making the right choice to get your project completed efficiently.
Our list below includes some key points our specialists will ask when you make an enquiry.

Purchase vs Rental? – and if rental, what duration?

Pipe cutter rental can be a great choice for short to medium term projects, especially at short notice. The downsides are that major projects can experience delays and disruption - which can ramp up the overall costs. If you use some smaller companies the choice of machines can be limited, so you may not get exactly what you need.

If you’re planning weeks in advance, a purchased machine might be a smarter choice. This way you can take more time to specify a machine and accessories that allow for different pipe sizes and applications, and you’ll have the equipment ready for an immediate quick response to future projects.

When do you want the machine?

If you want to hire a clamshell cutter what are your expectations for lead times? - The Enerpac group is very strong in this area, all thanks to a huge fleet of rental machines and global network of outlets.

What applications do you want to do?

Are you looking to cut only, or bevel too? If bevelling, what profile? - Plain bevel, J prep or compound bevel? Why not tell your machine supplier and get the right tooling included with your machine order? If you’re looking to carry out counter-boring, make sure the machine and accessories allow you to do this. Other accessories make it possible to carry out facing, machining out of round pipes, ring type joints, and cutting when space is restricted.

What pipe sizes do you want to cut and bevel?

Are you planning to work on more than one pipe size? A good clamshell will include around 6” adjustment allowing you to cut more than one pipe diameter, but you may still need more than one size of machine. Check out the maximum and minimum mounting sizes when weighing up your options.

What environment will you be working in?

Where you carry out the work will influence choice of machine. Is an air-line available to drive pneumatic machine? Can you use a diesel driven hydraulic power unit on-site? Is electric an option?

Additionally, some locations may not permit cutting oils to be used. You should also consider how the machine will be delivered to the actual pipe location. This could be in a field or other location where vehicle access is difficult.

How many cuts and bevels are needed?

When you need to hire a machine. Tell our team how many cuts and bevels you intend to make, as this will help to decide how many tool blades to send with the machine.

What is the wall thickness and material of the pipes to cut?

These are also factors determining the size of the tool blades and the number of blades required. Note that if you aren’t allowed to use a lubricant on-site this will also affect tool wear. Heavy wall pipes may require a more robustly constructed machine such as the DL Ricci HD clamshell range.

Are there any clearance issues around the pipe?

Pipe runs in the oil & gas and petrochemical industries can be complex and over-crowded, which may cause you problems accessing the section to cut.
The benefit of using a clamshell cutter is that they’re constructed in two halves, which are offered to the pipe or flange and then clamped together.

When enquiring about a pipe cutting and beveling machine in relation to a specific job, make sure you have as much knowledge about the clearance required. If space is tight don’t worry, because many problems can be overcome by choosing a different type of machine - such as the NB (narrow body) clamshell series, and by also specifying a motor mount type with a different orientation, and smaller tool slides.

How many machines are required?

An obvious question, but when you’ve considered the previous points you may now have a different idea of how many machines you need. Large projects such as on an LNG plant build will require different machine sizes and maybe multiples of the same machine.

If you’re renting a clamshell cutter, what is the priority order of pipes to cut/bevel first?

Knowing this may help in instances were there are planned shutdowns for different parts of a plant - each area with different pipe diameters and therefore different machine sizes.

Recommended clamshell cutters: The DL Ricci range from Mirage and Enerpac

Download our Buyers Guide for advice and all of the specifications

Download the Buyers Guide (PDF)

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