Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data

Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/017336
Kind Code:
An improved bending apparatus for bending a radiused corner at a window in a brazed heat exchanger core where no tubes and fins are located. A cylindrical mandrel and sliding pressure die are designed to completely surround the manifold in the areas of the window and provide a continuous, rolling contact area or profile support around the manifold as the bending moment is applied.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
February 11, 2010
Filing Date:
August 06, 2009
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
International Classes:
Foreign References:
Other References:
See references of EP 2323781A4
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GRIFFIN, Patrick, M. (Inc.M/C:480-410-202,P.O. Box 505, Troy MI, US)
Download PDF:

1. A method of manufacturing a tube-to-manifold heat exchanger comprising the steps of: providing a tube-to-manifold heat exchanger core having a upper manifold, a lower manifold spaced apart from and substantially parallel to said upper manifold, and a plurality of substantially parallel and vertical flat tubes running between said upper and lower manifolds, wherein said plurality of tubes are spaced so as to define at least one open window bordered by sections of unencumbered upper and lower manifold defining an intended bend area of said core, providing a rotatable, semi-cylindrical mandrel defining the desired radius of the bend and having a semi-cylindrical trough sized to substantially support the entire inner profile of the manifold over the desired bend, providing a slidable pressure die opposed to the mandrel having a straight trough sized to substantially support the entire outer profile of the manifold over the desired bend, applying a bending force to bend the manifold around the semi-cylindrical mandrel while concurrently rotating the mandrel and sliding the pressure die along the length of the manifold so as to maintain a rolling contact between the mandrel and pressure die to continually support substantially the entire profile of the manifold as it is being bent.

2. The method according to claim 2, further comprising the step of applying the bending force by clamping the manifolds in the lead of the bend area between a pair of clamping elements and swinging the clamping elements about the pivot of the mandrel as the mandrel rotates.

3. The method according to claim 2, further comprising the step of providing one of clamping elements to be integral to the semi cylindrical mandrel and rotating the mandrel and swinging the one clamping element concurrently.

4. The method according to claim 1, further comprising the step of providing an additional length to the sliding pressure die to support the manifold trailing the bend.



[0001] The invention relates to a method and apparatus for bending a brazed aluminum heater exchanger. Priority is claimed to provisional application 61/188,440, filed August 8, 2008.


[0002] Brazed aluminum heat exchangers of the type having spaced header tanks (or manifolds), flat elongated tubes corrugated air fins or centers have been a commonplace in automotive applications, where they are of a relatively small face area and installed flat, such as air conditioning condensers. It is known to bend such automotive heat exchangers into a V or U shape, as shown in USPN 4,876,778, but this is a relatively simple and straighforward bend in which the tubes and fins (core face) themselves are bent, perpendicular to the tubes, not the heavier manifolds themselves, which remain straight

[0003] That same U or V shaped bend of the core face can be applied to stationary air conditioning applications as well (residential heat pump, for example), but such applications often require a more difficult bending operation in which the tubes are left unbent, straight, and vertical, while the manifolds are bent into a rectangular perimeter. The vertical tubes drain condensation better, but the manifolds are heavier and more diffult to bend. Several different bending apparatuses and methods are known. A typcial apparatus consists of a cylindrical solid mandrel that engages the tube the core face, between the manifolds, and opposed flat clamps engaging the outer core face and/or manifolds, one of which is held stationary and the other of which is swung in to bend the core around the cylindrical mandrel. The core is bent into a 90 degree, radiused corner or corners. Another issue is the behavior of the tubes and fins at the "corners" where the manifolds are bent. These can buckle and deform, presenting at least an aesthetic objection, if not a dimunition in performance. Fins may also pull away from the tubes in the bend area, decreasing performance. This limits how tight or small a bend radius can be achieved.

[0004] Published Japanese appplication JP-2005090806 shows the basic bend configuration described above, and discloses some prior approaches to the bending problem. The most basic approach is to simply remove (leave out) the tubes and fins at the corners, and to cover the resulting open windows with a screen of some sort in the final installation. This has the obvious drawback of removing a considerable amount of heat exhange area out of the core face, besides necessitating the addition of some sort of screen at the corners to "fill in" the missing area and avoid disturbance of the forced air flow at the paths of least resistance. This is especially a problem if the bending apparatus and technique do no allow for a tight, sharp bend, because more tubes and fins have to be left out. What the art fails to disclose is a bending method and apparatus designed to bend the manifolds, even free of tubes and fins, into such a tight and well controlled radiused corner, A typical bender will clamp the core on one side of the bend area, and apply a bending force to the other, either across the core area or the manifolds or both, but no mearsures are taken to actively control the profile and shape of the bent sections of the manifold .


[0005] This invention will be further described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0006] Figure 1 is a front and top view of a heat exchanger having a core window prior to bending.

[0007] Figure 1 is a face on view of a heat exchanger core having a core window prior to bending.

[0008] Figure 2 is a cross section of Figure 1,

[0009] Figure 3 shows the cross section of Figure 2 post bending. .

[0010] Figure 4 shows a perspective view of the bending apparatus.

[0011] Figure 5 shows the same perspective apparatus view with the bent heat exchanger in place.

[0012] Figure 6 shows a cross section through Figure 5.

[0013] Figures 7A-D show progressive sequences of the bending process.


[0014] In accordance with a preferred embodiment of this invention, referring to Figs. 1 and 2, a basic, pre bend core 10 is stacked and brazed as shown. In the figure, allowance is made for only one bend, but that could also include two or three bend areas, as well, all of which would be handled identically. Core 10 includes a series of what will ultimately be vertically oriented flat extruded aluminum tubes 12 running between parallel, upper and lower cylindrical aluminum manifolds 14. Manifolds 14 need not absolutely have a cylindrical cross section, although that is preferred for pressure resistance. Brazed between adjacent tubes 12 are conventional corrugated air fins or centers 16. Core 10 is conventional but for a deliberate removal of tubes 12, about eight or nine in number, leaving an open window 18 and an unslotted length of manifolds 14 of approximately 4 inches. This would vary depending on the size of the core. The open area would necessitate some accommodation in a typical core stacker mechanism, such a spacer to fill in the window 18 temporarily. While the provision of the window 18 at the bend area or corner (what will ultimately be a corner) is not new per se, the subject invention provides a novel apparatus and method that takes better advantage of the window 18 to provide a tight, symmetrical and undeformed bend, with minimal stress to adjacent tubes 12.

[0015] As disclosed in Figures 4, 5 and 6 the improved bending apparatus used in the method of the subject invention is designed to apply the bending force only to the manifolds 14, and to provide additional, active support of the manifolds 14 in the bend area in particular. A central post 20 rotatable about its center axis carries identical upper and lower semi-cylindrical bending mandrels 22, each of which has a semi cylindrical trough 24 bounded by semi cylindrical upper and lower trough edges 26 and 28. Trough 24 is semi cylindrical both along its length, and in its cross section, matching in its cross section the profile of manifold 14. Mandrel 22 also carries a straight back up clamp 30 which has a straight trough 32 of the same cross section as semicylindrcal trough 24, bounded by straight upper and lower edges 34 and 36. The troughs 24 and 32 are sized to fit closely around the manifolds 14, with the upper edges 26 and 34 aligned along the center line (12 o'clock position) of manifold 14, but with the lower edges 28 and 36 just clearing the inner of core 10. The lower one of the mandrels 22 is an exact mirror image of the upper one, so it is to be unterstood that the terms "upper edge" and "lower edge" would be reversed, even though the basic shape is the same. Extending radially inwardly from the semi cylindrical mandrel lower edge 28 is a semi cylincrical lobe 38, which is concentric to upper edge 26, and which subtends enough arc length to substantialy equal the straight length of that portion of the manifold 14 located within the window 18. A pair of pressure plate dies 40 located on the opposite side of core 10, one oppossed to each mandrel 22, each has a semi cylidrical, straight trough 42 equal in cross section to mandrel straight trough 32, bounded by upper and lower edges 44 and 46. Upper edge 44 also is aligned with the center line of manifold 14, while the lower edge 46 clears the outer face of core 10. Extending inwardly form the lower edge 46 is a straight lobe 48, beginning just in from the end of each die 40, which is coplanar to upper edge 44 and which has a straight length substantially equal to the arc length of semi cylindrcal lobe 38. A pair of clamp plates 50, each of which has a straight trough 52 of semi cylindrical cross section equal in size to the mandrel back up clamp straight trough 32, is each located opposed to a respective mandrel back up clamp 30.

[0016] The operation of the apparatus descibed above to carry out the method of the invention is described by reference to Figures 7A-7D. Core 10 is placed with upper and lower manifolds 14 located between opposed pairs of clamp plates 50 and mandrel back up clamps 30 on the leading side of the window 18. The lead edge of the each semi cylindrical lobe 38 is aligned the front edge of a window 18, as is the lead edge of a straight lobe 48 on a pressure plate die 40. The location of these two lead edges of lobes 38 and 48 is shown by the dotted line, which intersects the turning axis of the post 20 and may be referred to as the line of tangency, and represents a rolling point or area through which the window sections of the manifolds 14 continuously move as they are bent. Next, the upper and lower manifolds 14 are tightly clamped between opposed pairs of mandrel back up clamps 30 and clamp plates 50, while the pressure plates dies 40 are moved into alignment with the clamp plates 50. This brings the lead edges of the lobes 38 and 48 into clamping engagement, inside the window 18, so that the entire outer profile (both the inner and outer halves) of that part of the manifolds 14 within the windows 18 is contained closely within the surrounding troughs 24 and 42. That is, the upper edges 26 and 44 are tightly clamped at the 12 o'clock line of the manifolds 14, and the lobes 38 and 48 are tightly clamped at the 6 O'clock one of the manifolds, within the windows 18. This provides the maximal possible support to the manifolds 14 in that area, moreso than known bending apparatuses.

[0017] Next, as seen in Figures 7A-7D, post 20 is turned counter clockwise, thereby swinging the mandrels 22 in the same direction, and the clamp plates 50 engaged with the mandrel back up clams 30 are swung in the same direction about the same pivot axis to maintain the tight grip on the manifods 14. This serves to pull that portion of the manifolds 14 to the right of the tangency line, that portion encompassed by the windows 18, around and into the mandrel semicylindrical trough 24. Concurrently, the plressure plate die 40 is slid staight to the left at a rate sufficient to maintain the straight lobe 48 in rolling, non-sliding contact with the semicylindrical lobes 38, which move into the windows 18 as the manifolds 14 are bent into a matching radius and the straight lobes 48 concurrently move out of the bending windows 18. Therefore, during the entire bending process, that part of the manifolds 14 moving into the bend is continuously supported by the troughs 26 and 42 between the upper trough edges 26 and 44. which maintain rolling contact, and the lower lobe edges 38 and 48, which also maintain rolling contact. A continously rolling area of profile support located centered on the dotted line of tangency maintains the profile, supporting both the inner half of the profile in one trough and the outer half of the profile in another trough, throughout the bend. (Upper and lower, as designations, would be reversed for the lower mandrel 22, of course) This serves both to maintain the circular profile of the manifolds as well as to protect the joints of the tubes 12 with the manifolds 14, since all of the bending force is applied to the manfolds 14 only. This allows the radius of the bend to be tightened, as well. [0018] While this invention has been described in terms of the preferred embodiments thereof, it is not intended to be so limited, but rather only to the extent set forth in the claims that follow. Fundamentally and most simply, the basic invention entails supporting the entire profile of that portion of the manifolds located within the open area of the window during the bending process, between a rotatable cylindrical mandrel supporting the inner side of the mandrels, which has the desired radius and inner arc length of the bend to be created, and an opposed straight pressure die supporting the other side of that portion of the manifolds, and which slides along its length at a rate that maintains a continual rolling contact between it and the cylindrical mandrel as the bending force is applied, however it is applied, and until the bend is completed. It is an additional advantage to provide a pair of clamping elements in the lead of the bend area, by incorporating a straight back up clamp on the mandrel and an opposed clamp plate. It is also advantageous to support more of the manifold on the leading side of the bend and to also apply the bending force through that back up clamp, and to support more of the manifold on the trailing side of the bend with an additional length on the pressure die, more than is necessary just to support the profile of the bend. The additional manifold support provided on the leading and trailing sides of the bend cannot support the entire circumference of the manifold profile, because of the intervening tubes, but still provides an advantage. The manifold profile could be a shape other than round, meaning that the various supporting troughs would have a different matching cross sectional shape (square or elliptical), but the rolling contact lobes that provide all round support to the profile would have the same basic structure.