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Portable, Computerized Tool Produces Precision Swages

Feb. 15, 2008
A new hand-held tool swages fittings onto fluid power conductors with ease.
Looking much like the typical batteryoperated tools on the market today, Aeroswage is 11.5 in. long and weighs about 7 lb.
Pencil points to trigger that tells computer to start swaging process.

Finger tight . . . a familiar phrase to installers who swage fittings onto fluid power conductors. The phrase seems very descriptive, but becomes rather murky if you try to quantify it. An exact definition probably isn’t important for most systems, but in tubing for critical applications, precision is highly important.

Old school of thought
Since the introduction of highquality, gaugeable fittings, swaging them onto tubing has been both tedious and time consuming due to the high torque values required to produce a reliable connection. Typically, an installer follows a list of assembly instructions that includes: hand tightening the fitting, marking a reference location on the nut body at the fingertight position, and then advancing the fitting 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 turns with a wrench. To achieve this, the installer holds the body of the fitting stationary with a wrench while rotating the fitting in small incremental bursts of energy before resetting the wrench for another forward burst. This repeats until the fitting is fully tightened. The installer then checks the fitting with a feeler gauge. Somewhat incongruously, the directions say that if the feeler gauge does not fit, the fitting is properly tightened!

To reach this final set point, installers are encouraged to use a table-mounted vise so they can apply the necessary torque while watching the reference mark. This suggests the need for installers to either transport extensive support equipment with them or prefabricate the parts and take them to the assembly area.

An easy fit
The Aeroswage — a new portable swaging tool from American Power Tool Co., Wellington, Colo. — eliminates these trips between swaging and assembly. The handheld tool links a powerful gear train to an onboard computer to quickly and precisely reach the high torque values required for a perfect swage.

Without the physical limitations of electric cords and hand pumps, this battery-operated tool performs in places impossible for conventional swaging techniques. Because there is zero torque reaction, the technician need not even hold the tool while swaging. In fact, once placed into position, Aeroswage can be remotely operated. The rechargeable battery delivers many precision swages on a single charge.

The Aeroswage does not rely on strain gauges, springs, or clutches to determine the torque delivered. Instead, its onboard computer monitors a precision micrometer thousands of times per second to measure the exact position of the nut while it is rotating towards its targeted setpoint. The tool will not stop until it achieves the programmed nut-to-body gap. Any condition that compromises the tool from completing its program alerts the technician with a fault signal. This flags any deficiency for immediate correction. (With conventional swaging, errors in fitting assemblies typically do not present themselves until obstructed by layers of tubes and hoses.) Many hours of assembly and re-assembly can be saved by the computer’s constant vigilance.

Using Aeroswage is many times faster than installing swage fittings by hand — 10 sec compared to 4 min for each manual installation. However, the true time savings and value of the tool result from the computerized assembly system. Seamlessly smooth power application is applied to the fitting during the entire swaging process. This avoids the inconsistencies that fittings receive from the sporadic bursts of torque associated with hand tightening. By reducing friction within the fitting body as the internal ferrules travel uninterrupted along the tapered inner cone, Aeroswage produces a consistent repeatable swage.

Unlike most factory assembly tools that are dedicated to a particular task, Aeroswage supports a host of accessories that allows it to be instantly configured for a wide variety of sizes of fittings — both standard and metric. Specialty torque-reaction units facilitate elbows, tees, and unions. Aeroswage accommodates a wide range of gaugeable fittings, including those made by Parker Hannifin, Circle Seal, SSP Fittings, Swagelok, and others. A tube-cutting attachment is available to cut tubing to any desired length in seconds.

Aeroswage’s accuracy is easily verified for calibration and certification with a supplied set of precision standards. The tool seldom requires any adjustment, unless it is necessary to override factory settings to facilitate custom installation requirements.

To learn more about Aeroswage, call American Power Tool Co. at (800) 673-6672.

About the Author

Richard Schneider | Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor, has been affiliated with Hydraulics & Pneumatics for more than 30 years and served as chief editor from 1987 through 2000. He received a BSME from Cornell University and also completed additional courses at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. His diverse background in industry includes ten years with a fluid power distributor and a variety of other professional positions. He has also been active with the National Fluid Power Association and Fluid Power Society.

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