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Tube Bending: Understanding the Factors Influencing Minimum Bend Radius

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Tube and pipe bending are important metal forming processes designed to create curves and general bends. If you are involved in the sale or acquisition of custom metal products for commercial purposes, you will probably require tube bending services. Therefore, it is important for you to understand the different critical aspects of the bending process. One of the most crucial considerations is the minimum bend radius; this element affects the functionality of the formed pipes.

Basically, the minimum bend radius can be defined as the measure of how tightly a tube or pertinent pipe can be bent without sustaining damage such as breakage. In simple terms, if a pipe can be bent extremely tightly, it will have a high degree of curvature. This means the said pipe has achieved a small minimum bend radius. Here is a brief outline of the factors that will influence the minimum bend radius for your custom tubes and pipe products.

Tube Wall Thickness

The thickness of the walls of the pipes and tubes intended for bending will influence the potential minimum bend radii. In general, if the straight tube has a thick wall, your fabricator will be able to achieve a smaller bend radius. This can be attributed to the fact that when a pipe is bent, the outer wall will become thinner due to the stretching force. Therefore, if your original pipe is thin, the bending process will stretch the fragile walls, and the outer part of the pipe will deform, break, or become kinked.

Material Ductility

Pipes and general tubes are manufactured using different metals, and this will affect the radius of the bend created during metal forming processes. Simply speaking, there are materials which have more ductility than others, allowing the creation of smaller minimum bend radii. Ductility refers the flexibility of metal under tensile stress or stretching force. If you would like to achieve a tight curvature or small bend radius, you should choose pipes made of highly ductile materials like aluminium. An alternative such as carbon steel is more brittle than flexible, so tight bends will cause breakage.

Bending Techniques

The specific pipe bending technique selected for the metal forming project will affect the minimum bend radius. Typically, manual methods which create the curves by mechanical pressure will cause faster deformation of the material. On the other hand, a technique like induction bending heats the point at which the bend will be formed. This makes the pipe more flexible, allowing for tighter bends and smaller radii. For more information, talk to a professional like Inductabend Pty Ltd.