Tube and pipe bending is an important process in metal forming. As implied, this is a procedure designed to create bends or localised curves on tubular structures to meet specific requirements. Typically, the tube bending process is used to create functional piping for fluid conveyance in commercial, industrial and residential applications.
However, you can also choose this process for creating bent tubes for other purposes, including decorative functions. Regardless of your potential application, it is important for you to achieve ideal bends during your custom tube formation process. Here are the primary factors that will affect the quality of the bends achieved for your pipes and tubes.
Quality of Material
There are numerous materials used to manufacture pipes and tubes that are resilient and durable in their applications. However, these are not equal in quality or properties. Therefore, some are more bendable than others, meaning that the performance of the formed pieces will be better. When starting your custom pipe bending project, you should consider your choice of material. Ideally, you should choose malleable materials such as aluminium and brass. These are softer and do not experience extensive stress under mechanical pressure. Steel is also a popular choice because it is a low-cost material. You can choose stainless steel, hot and cold rolled steel and even bare stainless tubes. Carbon steel can also be bent, but watch out for brittle grades because they are prone to stress cracking.
The forming technique selected for the bending process will affect the final results. Therefore, you should discuss your options with your fabricator to help you identify the right match for your applications. Generally, mechanical bending processes are favoured because of their low-cost nature.
In simple terms, the pipe is held in a specific position between a clamping block and the template forming die. Mechanical force or pressure is utilised to push the pipe such that it adapts to the shape of the die. The main disadvantage of mechanical bending is the stress that can compromise the performance of the pipe. The most ideal alternative technique is induction bending. This involves localised heating of the pipe, which makes the pipe more malleable, preventing stress damage.
Finally, you should consider the quality of the bending machines used to bend your pipes during the project. Ideally, you should make certain that the fabricator has CNC bending equipment. The computer-controlled machines are critical in producing formed custom pipes with tighter tolerances, smaller radii, large bends and elliptical bends for special applications.