We often receive inquiries from customers on the technical aspects of our metal bending services. The most common question is “can you bend this?” and generally the answer is going to be positive. There are many different machines today that assist in bending or rolling everything from thin sheet metal and flat bars to large beams and tubes. If you apply enough pressure, and perhaps a little heat, most metals will bend relatively easily. However, there are many variables that can affect the quality of a bend. It is important to consider the end use to determine what method of bending and rolling will meet the desired result.
The question of bending a specific shape is typically not the difficult part in properly evaluating a project. The true evaluation comes in the specifics. The question one should ask is “can you bend this shape in this particular way?” For example, in pipe and tube bending, there are some common terms for tight elbow radial measurements. Frequently 1-D, 2-D and 3-D are used to explain a bending radius of 1, 2, or 3 times the pipe/tube diameter. A 3-D bend on a 2” pipe would have a 6” centerline radius. If the material size is 2” schedule 40 pipe, this would be a pretty standard bend. However, if the wall thickness changes to schedule 10 or the material is changed to aluminum, then there could be a greater difficulty in the bending.
Bend orientation is another specific that is necessary in determining bend capabilities. Material can be rolled in multiple ways. For example, an angle can be rolled with the leg or heel facing in or out. A wide-flange beam or rectangular tube can be rolled either the easy way or hard way.
Bending and rolling companies use terms like ‘easy way’ and ‘hard way’ to help explain the relative difficulty of rolling a specific shape based on which axis it is bent against. With some material, like rectangular tubing, easy way may bend more easily, but protecting the tube from unwanted cosmetic deformation of the cross-section becomes more difficult. Usually, a structural member can be rolled to a tighter radius in one direction than the other, so it is important to specify roll orientation when asking for a quote. Give us a call if you have any questions on our metal bending services or need technical advice.