Metal manufacturing processes rely on tube bending to achieve a quality final product. Numerous industries benefit from this process, from the construction and automotive sectors to aerospace and consumer goods components.
There are several methods to help manufacturers achieve their desired shape, each with different benefits and suited to various metals. Below, you’ll learn more about tube bending and the different types to choose the best application method.
What Is Tube Bending?
Tube bending is the process of bending metal pipes or tubing to a specific shape for various fabrication applications. Most metals can work in the tube bending process, making the process useful for various metal fabrication needs. You can achieve different metal pipe or tube shapes in many ways, each with distinct benefits and drawbacks.
When choosing a tube bending method, you’ll want to consider your budget, the workable size and bend angle each method is capable of, and the precision you require for your applications. Your exact needs will help you determine what tube bending method is best.
Types of Tube Bending
Each tube bending method has unique benefits and is suited to different industries. Below, you’ll learn about the different methods, their benefits and how they can be used.
1. Press Bending
Press bending is the most common type of tube bending and involves using two dies pressed against metal to reach the desired shape. The dies force the metal to conform to a specific shape. The press bending method has some distinct benefits, including:
- Quick turnaround
Despite these advantages, there are some drawbacks to consider. For example, press bending can crush metal piping more easily and has less accuracy than other methods. However, press bending can be useful when working with a strict budget and when accuracy is less important.
2. Roll Bending
Roll bending uses three rollers rather than dies. This tube-bending process can be used to bend metal bars and sheets. The metal is pushed through the rollers to reach the required shape. Roll bending is ideal when you need circular metal tubing or several bends in a single tube or pipe.
Some of the advantages of this method include:
- No need to change tools when changing sizes
- The option to create multiple bends
- The ability to bend on different planes
This process is best for creating circular shapes or multiple bends, but this method has some drawbacks. Some of these drawbacks include slowness compared to other techniques, requirements for a trial and error process and risks of damage to small or thin tubes.
3. Rotary Draw Bending
Rotary draw bending is one of the most popular methods since the process is easier to control, affordable and more accurate than other methods. As the name implies, this method uses a rotary draw machine, which allows the metal to bend through various dies. This process is often used for more specific applications and helps bend components such as handles, roll cages and handrails.
The rotary draw method has many benefits for a wide number of benefits, including:
- High accuracy and precision
- High speeds
Applications that need precise bends at a fast turnaround would benefit from rotary draw bending. However, it’s essential to note that this method has a higher setup cost than other techniques and will require different tooling to achieve multiple shapes.
4. Mandrel Bending
Mandrel bending is more of an aid or a modification to other tube bending methods. This process involves placing a support or a mandrel into the tube or pipe while it’s being bent, which is usually a solid piece of metal. The added support helps prevent tubing or piping from collapsing or being crushed as it’s bending. The mandrel also makes it easier to achieve the ideal shape during the bending process.
Some of the reasons that manufacturers choose this method include:
- Turnaround times
- Shape accuracy
While mandrel bending is an excellent way to prevent tubing or piping from being crushed, it does have a longer setup time and higher cost than other methods. As a result, manufacturers may have to wait longer during the initial setup and pay more to get the final product. That said, this method is useful for manufacturers who work with thin or delicate metals but need accurate bends to achieve their goals.
5. Compression Bending
Compression bending works by using a compression die and clamps at the end of the tubing, allowing pressure to be applied to the correct point for the bend. This method is mostly used in construction to create electrical conduits. While this method isn’t used as often with the introduction of new tube bending methods, it has some benefits:
- Simplified setup
- Quick turnaround
There are some reasons this method has become less popular over time. For example, compression bending can cause metal tubing to break or become damaged. This method is also only used for pipes with limited diameters.
6. Wiper Die Bending
Wiper die bending is an excellent method when a tight bend is needed in a thin pipe or tube. A wiper die is used to help prevent wrinkling and excess material compression. This method can help when mandrel bending won’t work but has similar applications. Wiper die bending also has different benefits to mandrel bending, mainly that it prevents deformations in the final product.
Like all other methods, there are some drawbacks to consider. Wiper die bending has a higher cost and a longer set-up time than other methods.
7. Heat Induction Bending
Heat induction bending uses heat to bend metal piping and tubing since metal is easier to bend when heated. This process uses heated coils to help heat the metal. Once the right temperature is achieved, force is applied to the metal using pivot dies. The metal is either cooled naturally or cooled using water.
The heat induction method is often used across various industries but is commonly used to manufacture pipelines. This process is also used in power distribution and construction. Some notable benefits of this method include:
- Fewer force requirements
- Bending capabilities for high wall thickness
- Quick bends
While this process has notable benefits and many applications, head induction bending can damage the structural integrity of the tubes and pipes. This process can also create stains and create variations in the pipe once it reaches a cooler temperature.
Partner With PBZ Manufacturing for Your Tube Bending Needs
PBZ Manufacturing is a leader in manufacturing solutions for various clients and industries. We offer a comprehensive selection of tube bending services, allowing you to choose the best method with your industry standards and needs. Our solutions can help you save time while boosting profit.
PBZ also works as a one-stop shop, meaning you can find all the necessary manufacturing services in one convenient location. Whether you need tube bending, laser cutting, finishing or customized metal fabrication, our team can help. You can contact us today to learn more about our manufacturing solutions or request a quote to start as soon as possible.