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The Manufacturing Process of Presure Gauge
Published:2013-11-29 15:36:28    Text Size:【BIG】【MEDIUM】【SMALL
Making the Bourdon tube

    The Bourdon tube is the most important part of the instrument. The tube may be made from solid bar stock by drilling the length to the desired inside diameter and turning the outside diameter on a lathe to achieve the appropriate wall thickness. However, most general purpose gauges utilize preformed tubing purchased from a metals supplier. The gauge builder specifies the desired wall thickness, material, configuration, and diameter. The supplier provides the material in 10- to 12-foot (3- to 3.65-meter) lengths, ready for production.
    Most manufacturers have closely guarded proprietary rolling methods for rolling the tubing into the "C" shape. The "C" shape of the tube is generally formed in an automatic rolling machine. This machine contains two precision, powered rollers, through which the tubing passes. One roller grasps the tubing end and forms the inside radius, while the other provides outside pressure to maintain uniform contact with the tubing. Each roller contains a groove that fits around the outside of the tubing; these grooves allow the tubing to maintain its circular shape rather than being flattened. In the rolling process, a steel mandrel—a bar that guides the tubing into the rollers and helps it keep its shape—is first inserted though the free end of the tubing and positioned just before the rollers. This lubricated mandrel is of the desired interior shape of the oval. The tubing then passes over the mandrel and between the rollers. One roller contains a clip that grabs the tubing; as the roller turns, it pulls the tubing and bends it into the "C" shape.
    The same roller that grabs and bends the tubing also contains a saw blade. As the roller continues turning after creating the bend, the saw blade on it cuts the tubing to the proper length. The tubing is then heat treated in ovens.

Other components

    The socket is basically a block of metal that serves as a connector to the source of the pressure medium; a mount for the case, dial, and movement; and as an attachment slot for the Bourdon tube. One end of the socket is threaded, which allows it to be screwed into the pressure-providing apparatus. The socket may be cast, forged, extruded, or machined from bar stock. Most sockets are made on automated machining centers that turn, drill, mill, and thread all in one cycle. General machining practices apply to most socket manufacture.
    Movements are geared mechanisms that contain a pinion (a rotating shaft), sector, support plates, hairspring, and spacer columns. The mechanism converts the somewhat linear displacement of the Bourdon tip into rotary movement, as well as providing a means for calibration adjustment. The pointer is fastened to the rotating shaft, or pinion, and sweeps across the graduated dial indicating the pressure amount. Most movements are supplied to the gauge builder ready to use. Many types of manufacturing processes are used to produce the movement components, and the workmanship of the mechanism closely resembles a clockwork when completed.
    The case, dial, and pointer may be sheet metal stampings, plastic moldings, or castings. Stampings and moldings require little further processing, but castings will require some machining—trimming off excess material, for instance—to meet the final requirements. These components are painted as required, and the dials are printed with the appropriate artwork. Common printing practice, utilizing both offset and direct methods, is used. The lens most commonly is a plastic part made by injection molding, whereby the plastic is heated into a molten state and then poured into a mold of the desired shape. The attachment feature that secures and seals the lens to the case is designed into the mold. Glass lenses are still used, but must be retained by a ring of some type. Glass has fallen out of favor because of the safety problems of breakage.

Final assembly

    After the Bourdon tube is made, its closed end is attached to the socket by soldering, brazing, or welding. The free end of the Bourdon tube is precisely located during this assembly operation, and then sealed, usually by the same means used to join the tube to the socket. Once the Bourdon tube and socket assembly is secure, the tip of the unsupported end of the "C" is attached to an endpiece. This endpiece contains a small hole that connects the tip to the geared movement mechanism. The Bourdon tip doesn't move a great distance within its pressure range, typically .125 to .25 inch (.31 to .63 centimeter). Understandably, the greater the pressure, the farther the tip moves. The other components—the movement, pointer, and dial—are then assembled onto the socket as a group.
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