Designing Hoses and Tubes: Engineering Beyond the Lawn

Written by: Cat McClintock

If you’ve ever had to add hose or tube assemblies to your design, you know they can demand careful engineering. As you choose your materials and wall thicknesses, you have to think about the pressure, temperature, and elements your part is likely to encounter.

(That said, if you’ve never worked much with hoses, you’ll find some beginning design tips at the end of this post.)

Hoses and Tubes: Changing the World

Like so much else in engineering, hose and tube construction is critical where it’s used, yet rarely draws much attention from the non-engineering world. That’s too bad. Check out these four innovations that have changed, or are about to change, the world:

Tubular dude: Fuel injection systems

Fuel injection systems, which really came of age in the go-go 80s, spit or inject fuel into automobiles, ships, construction equipment, and agricultural machinery via a small nozzle and a metal tube or pipe. Fuel injection provides smoother throttle response, easier cold starting, more stable idling, decreased maintenance needs, and better fuel efficiency. Need proof? Here’s a cool (and Canadian!) film from the 1980s that explains fuel injection:

Vacuum brake systems, the original steam punks

Vacuum brakes were introduced in the mid-1860s for use on trains across Britain using a series of hoses placed at each end of the vehicles that carried air to engage the braking systems. These systems were soon taken over by compressed air systems from the 1870s onward. The vacuum brake system may now be obsolete, but it changed the way brakes are used and illustrated the power of flexible vacuum hoses.

Air brakes take over

Railway air brakes were the next step in technology to slow down trains. The braking system uses compressed air as the operating medium, and the technology is, in some form, still in use today based on a design patented by George Westinghouse back in 1868. In a nutshell, air pressure charges air reservoirs on each car, then full air pressure signals each car via hoses to release the brakes. A reduction or loss of air pressure signals each car to apply its brakes, using the compressed air in its reservoirs. Again, hoses played a huge role in stopping these Victorian-era steel beasts.

Hosing the California drought down

Drip irrigation allows water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters. This technology also saves water. In drought-ravaged Southern California, an engineer has been field testing “vertical wetlands” that mimics a wetlands in nature. Dirty water gets naturally filtered as it runs through an expanse of plants, rocks, soil and indigenous bacteria as it makes its way to a river or other waterway. This reusable water can then be used for irrigation and is delivered through – yep, pipes and hoses.

Meet Imperial Auto

We started thinking about the complexities of these seemingly simple extrusions after we heard from PTC customer Imperial Auto. Based in Haryana, India, Imperial engineers and designs a vast catalog of hoses for some of the world’s largest manufacturers—think Caterpillar and John Deere.

In fact, there may be an Imperial product under your hood. You’ll find the company’s products in passenger vehicles, busses, 2 wheelers, defense and construction vehicles, and much more. Established in 1969, Imperial is the largest integrated manufacturer of fluid transmission products, with a wall of awards from OEMs all over the world.

And they do it with help from PTC CAD design software. “PTC Creo has helped us improve design efficiency by 30%,” says Sudhir Kumar Gupta, Head of R&D, Imperial Auto Industries. Ltd. “We can handle customer enquiries faster.”

Design It Yourself: Extrusions and Sweeps

The takeaway? Simple hoses help solve a lot of complex problems. If you’re new to CAD software, most of these designs can start with extrusions and sweeps. Read up on extruding. And then for more complex designs, explore this post on creating sweeps. In many cases, it might also be helpful to understand routed systems, so you know hoses and tubes fit efficiently into the larger assembly. 

Where to Meet More PTC Customers

Read more about PTC customers and the remarkable engineering challenges they conquer every day, all over the world. Sign up for our newsletter, PTC Express, to meet even more PTC customers like Imperial Auto each month.

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Tags: CAD

About the Author

Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.