Curving Steel Shapes: The Importance of Record Keeping

Designers, architects, owners, engineers, structural steel fabricators – anyone who is interested in using curved steel shapes in their buildings, equipment or other structures can benefit from entering into a dialogue with companies that specialize in curving steel.

While there are copius manuals and guides for what pipe can be bent successfully on rotary draw benders, there is a shortage of materials regarding what can be bent through other methods.  Whether it’s three-roll bending, ram bending, heat induction bending, or plate rolling, the best way to explore capacities is to contact the experts, companies that are sometimes referred to as Benders/Rollers.

Typically, these companies keep detailed records of what they have done, how the bending turned out, and how long the bending took.  Depending on the thoroughness and complexity of the record keeping, a project engineer can answer questions regarding the limits of bending a particular steel section of plate while on the telephone with the individual seeking the information.

Accurate Record Keeping of Curved Shapes

For example, a structural steel fabricator wanted to know if a W27 x 102 beam could be bent the hard way (against the strong axis) to a 40ft outside radius.  The project engineer answered that it probably would be difficult to do.  Upon looking up the company’s records, however, he found that the machine operators in the plant had successfully curved three previous jobs very similar to the one in question.  A quick response to the inquiry can speed the development of an entire project, e.g. curved roof beams for a wavy structure.

Records of actual jobs are invaluable.  It is not often the case that one can interpolate between section sizes and radii to determine if the curving can be done successfully.  Furthermore, different Roller/Benders have different machines, different processes, different machine operators, and different material.  Consequently, all these variables contribute to answering a common question:  Can this steel section or steel plate be rolled to this radius?


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