"The world’s most revolutionary sectional screw flight helix forming technology"
Since the 3rd century BC the helix has been the principal element in myriad machines from water pumps to screw conveyors to earth boring augers and foundation anchors. The efficiency of all these inventions relies on the accuracy of the helical form. Thus craftsmen and engineers have been endeavouring to “Blacksmith” out this complex shape with varying degrees of success over the millennia.
The manufacture of a quality sectional screw flight helix is harder than one would imagine. Many have tried, and failed. Some have tried and had limited success. Others have achieved a level of proficiency that makes it commercially viable to produce screw flight helices. These people carefully guard their process, procedures and employees because the intellectual property has cost a lot of money to develop and many years have gone into training their operators.
Until now helical screw flights have been primarily formed by “pitch” dependent dies in various forming machines. The accuracy and consistency of the helical form was largely a function of the die pitches, the experience of the press operator and the accuracy of the cut annulus from which the helix was formed. All of this cloaked the black art that was “Helical Flight Forming”
AST has developed hardware, software and procedures for sectional screw flight helix manufacture that enables the operators to be proficient and productive after minimal training. In short AST has formalised what was once the "black art" of sectional screw flight helix forming.
There are two critical aspects when manufacturing sectional screw flight helices:
- The development of the helical flight blank
- The efficient and accurate forming of the helical flight blank into a finished sectional screw flight helix.
The development of the helical flight blank: Helical flight blanks have traditionally been generated by trial and error methodology, with inevitable wastage of resources - particularly when the screw flight helix needs to incorporate intricate tapers, legs or notches. As a result sectional screw flight helix manufacture has been virtually a secret art. Our award winning, proprietary helical Flight Blank Designer Program ensures that helical flight blanks are calculated and made correctly first time every time. Our Flight Blank Designer Program offers a significant commercial advantage for all sectional screw flight manufacturers utilising its capabilities.
The efficient and accurate forming of the helical flight blank into a finished sectional screw flight helix: Once the helical flight blank has been accurately developed and cut it needs the helical shape formed in it giving the finished sectional screw flight helix. Traditionally this has been done using "size" specific tooling in a press. This method also relies heavily on the skill and application of the operator to ensure that the finished flight helix is correct and of high quality. Our forming system has been designed specifically to provide consistent output and high productivity with minimal skill input from the operator. Our specially designed forming plates remove the need for size specific tooling. We have also developed a proprietary program that works in conjunction with our forming plates to ensure precise plate selection and positioning/set up, providing a "pure" helical form with your screw flight helix.
To truly manufacture Sectional Helical Screw Flights with consistent accuracy, in an efficient manner, with high quality, then you require a complete system not just a forming machine. Advanced Spiral Technology Pty Ltd has developed and patented a screw flight helix forming system – TruHelix™ - that produces true and accurate helices from start to finish.
Features & Benefits of AST’s TruHelix™ Flight Forming System
1. Flight Blank Development
• Look up prior records
• Trial and error
• Flight blank designer software
• No blank size proving required
• No wasted material
• All time is utilized producing product that is profit generating
2. Forming Hardware
• Pitch specific dies selected from stock of right and left hand dies.
• Expensive, heavy and storage hungry.
• Helix angle forming plates
• Easy storage and handling
• Pure helix form throughout, including flight end to flight end match up
• Cost per tool set significantly less
• Repairs and maintenance – minimal, quick and easy
3. Forming Plate Set Up
• Operator experience
• Trial and error
• Defined by the AST Forming Parameters set up software.
• Print out of set up procedure given to operator
• Eliminates the reliance on experienced operators
• Eliminates operator error
• Quick and easy set up
4. Machine set up and Forming of Helix
• Manual forming press
• Labour intensive
• Often de-forms flight rather than forming the flight
• Semi Automatic Machine
• Set to flight configuration by on board Machine set up PLC
• Flights are machine supported and operator guided.
• Efficiently produce correct, consistent and quality output all the time every time
• Increasing operator efficiency and safety.
• Improved employee morale.
With AST’s TruHelix™ system you are not purchasing a machine you are investing in a unique and revolutionary sectional screw flight helix manufacturing system that comprises hardware, software, commercial and technical support and training if you choose.
What is TruHelix Flight Forming Technology?
TruHelix™ is a sectional helical screw flight forming system that incorporates revolutionary patented hardware along with purpose designed and constructed software to eliminate the heavily reliance on operator expertise. TruHelix™ is a sectional helical screw flight forming system that does not rely on the traditional pitch dependent dies. The TruHelix™ system employs interchangeable forming plates that can be utilised for both right and left hand forming. The inventory of plates is relatively small compared to the enormous stock of pitched dies (right and left hand) required for "traditional" helical screw flight forming.
With pitch dependant shaping dies it is almost impossible to truly FORM a sectional flight helix; some type of DEFORMATION will occur during the shaping of the helix. This can be magnified depending on the material that the flight is manufactured from.
Why? Material yield and tensile strength will vary slightly from batch to batch, and will vary greatly from material type to material type, thus the amount of spring back experienced during the shaping process is virtually impossible to allow for with pitch dependant shaping dies. Further to this, as the inside diameter of a flight changes, even when no other flight parameters are altered, the amount of spring back will change also. To mitigate against this sectional screw flight helix manufacturers will usually apply one of two techniques to obtain the required pitch:
Reposition the helical flight in the shaping tool to compensate
Change the shaping tool
Both tactics result in DEFORMATION during the shaping process and as such you no longer have a true helix.
Some consequences of DEFORMATION during the shaping process:
Consistency in the helical shape is difficult to sustain – this is even more critical when you have double or triple start spiral sections. Without consistent helical shape the performance of the screw machine is detrimentally affected. As consistency deteriorates the detrimental affect is exacerbated.
Obtaining a good fit on the centre pipe is compromised – the effective outside diameter of your helical flights will now be altered inline with the gaps that are present, therefore the screw element will now be out of balance and difficult to straighten satisfactorily without adding foreign items like counter weights. Alternatively, you could machine the outer diameter of the screw element to achieve the necessary balance. Either way the cost is prohibitive. Again without these measures the screw machine’s operational performance and life will be detrimentally affected.
Neat matching of the helical screw flight ends, ensuring smooth helical shape along the length of the complete screw helix, is no longer possible - when helical screw flight ends do not match then the fitting of the screw flight helix is difficult and time consuming.
There will be varying gaps where helical screw flight ends match - again resulting in difficult and time consuming fitting of the screw flight helix.
In the forming process it is VERY IMPORTANT to understand that our TruHelix™ system employs “air bending” to produce the screw flight helix. In other words we FORM the screw flight helix to an exact helix rather than DEFORMING the screw flight helix as happens with conventional “bottom forming” pitched dies. It is the selection and positioning of our forming plates that is critical in producing a perfect true helix.
Flight Forming Software - A Virtual Engineer at your fingertips
The software component of our TruHelix™ Sectional Screw Flight Helix Forming System incorporates two unique programs that perform specialised engineering calculations at a cost that is many times less than a real life engineer.
Program 1 - Flight Blank Designer
An integral component to any sectional screw flight helix forming system is the accurate calculation of the helical flight blank. Our Flight Blank Designer Program allows you to input your finished flight helix parameters:
Outside diameter – standard or tapered.
Inside diameter – standard or tapered.
Additional Features – Legs, Notches, Holes, Windows & Cant Angle
The cutting size for the flat helical flight blank will be instantaneously calculated. The results are displayed graphically on the screen and can be saved as a DXF file to transfer to your cutting machine.
Program 2 - Machine Configuration Tool
AST has, as part of the “system”, developed and made available to their partners the software program we refer to as the Machine Configuration Tool.
The inputs to this program are:
The program is preloaded with most common material types, however new materials can be added at any time. Built into the program is Young’s Modulus, 0.2% Proof Stress (Yield Strength for mild steel) and the materials Proportionality Limits. This provides a computation that scientifically considers “spring back”. Subsequently, the program will select the correct forming plates, from the database of available plates, making allowance for the varying “spring back” associated with materials of different strengths. The program also calculates the exact position of the forming plates and the helical flight blank support bars and displays a set up procedure that can be printed out (with the scope of work) and given to the machine operator to set the forming plates correctly in the machine.
Helical Flight Forming Hardware
AST’s TruHelix™ system includes Numerically Controlled semi automatic sectional screw flight helix forming machines. All machines come complete with our Operating and Forming Parameters Program pre-loaded and pre-commissioned in our workshop prior to shipping to your facility. You simply key into the control panel the finished helical flight parameters of Outside Diameter, Inside Diameter, Pitch, Thickness and Material and your helical flight forming machine will automatically set the speed, pressure and travel set points applicable to the flight helix to be formed.
Helical Flight Forming Tooling
AST’s TruHelix™ system doesn’t use “pitch dependent forming dies” but a system of interchangeable hardened plates that produce a flight helix of unprecedented quality regardless of the Pitch, Outside Diameter, Inside Diameter, Material or Feature. The same plates produce both Right Hand and Left Hand Helical Screw Flights.
Helical Flight Forming Machine Operating & Forming Parameters Program
In an effort to eliminate the reliance on operator skill and to provide superior, high volume productivity AST preloads all of its Helical Flight Forming Machines with the Operating and Forming Parameters program. Once the machine operator has their scope of work/job sheet and set the Forming Plates correctly, they then set the machine forming parameters – forming pressure, extract gap, roll gap and form gap. The operator will input the finished flight parameters:
- Outside diameter.
- Inside diameter.
- Material Thickness.
And the machine will calculate, and set, the applicable outputs for pressure and gaps ensuring consistent outcomes all of the time everytime.
At this point any operator should be able to form perfect, pure helix screw flights – AST TruHelix™ Flights.