The term “non-commodity” is used to describe steel shapes when the size and alloy in demand is not produced for distribution to the masses. The demand for these specialty steel members does not occur with enough frequency for rolling mills and reduction mills to consider this type of work. So, specialty steel fabricators with bender/roller capabilities are contacted when non-commodity steel shapes are required. These fabricators have the ability to produce custom sizes and shapes in short runs/batch production. This demand is often seen in pipe/tube sizes that are required for the energy markets, i.e. nuclear. These non-commodity steel products can often be made in custom lengths, shape, dimensions, and alloys. A recent request for a structural application required 48ft of 16” grade 50, steel channel to be used in the fascia of a newly constructed commercial building.
Through the use of large press brakes, which can be made up to and exceeding 3000 tons x 40ft long, non-commodity steel channels can be formed with accuracy to specified dimensions. When proper machine setup techniques are used, forming heavy plate into 90degree bends is somewhat straight forward. Custom size, steel angles, channels and even tubing can be formed by bender/rollers on a brake with a large enough capacity and the proper tooling. In the application described above, ½” A572-50 needed to be formed into a channel that was 16” deep with 5” legs. 4pcs were required at 12ft long each, totaling 48ft.
Determining proper die selection is key to bending. Without the correct dies in place, a few things can go wrong: the material being formed may get damaged leaving cracking or severe tooling marks; the bend may not be accurate; or in extreme cases, the tooling may be damaged. When set up correctly, however, press brakes are capable of forming 90deg bends accurately in plate thicknesses and lengths according to the machine’s respective capacity chart. For the non-commodity channel required in the above scenario, a 4” V-die was used with a 5/8” radius punch die on a 1000ton brake. The plate was marked with bend locations, and then hit 1 time at each location forming 2 separate 90deg bends. The formed channels final dimensions are checked for accuracy of forming/bending.