Bending is an important process in sheet metal fabrication. The creation of complex products often requires the manipulation of the material into different shapes. If you are planning for a sheet metal bending project for commercial or industrial purposes, consult a qualified manufacturer for professional assistance. However, you can also test out the product design through in-house bending of a prototype. Here are some crucial tips to keep in mind for effective bending.
Choose a Malleable Material
The type of metal chosen for the project will determine the ease of bending. Therefore, look for malleable or workable materials. The right sheet metal will bend with ease and not crack under pressure. One of the popular choices for general fabrication is aluminium. The intrinsic structure of this material makes it pliable, so cracking is not common. However, some alloys might be harder. Review the properties of the different aluminium sheets available before selection.
If you are interested in using steel, acquire mild steel. Most steel alloys are hard and might crack under bending pressure. However, mild steel has small quantities of carbon in comparison to alternatives. This aspect makes it less hard, allowing for easier bending. Copper has exceptional formability. The material can be bent with ease into any shape or form. Regrettably, the cost is a major drawback. You can opt for copper alloys, but they are significantly harder due to the inclusion of alloying materials.
Evaluate the Bend Design
The bend design is a critical factor in the success of a sheet metal fabrication project. You cannot achieve good results by folding the materials without a plan. In most cases, people are overzealous when developing a new product or structure. The resulting design is creative, but the technical feasibility is low.
For example, sharp corners seem easy on paper, but they are unsuitable in practical manufacturing. The sheet metal will experience a lot of stress when bent into a tight angle. The bent area will become thinner than other areas, and the risk of cracking or premature failure will be high. You can avoid the problem by choosing a soft curve.
Prevent Surface Scratching
If you would like to create an appealing prototype, you must avoid damaging the material during the bending process. The most common problem is surface scratching by workshop tools. You can prevent the damage by protecting the sections in contact with tools using a few masking tape layers. Also, consider clamping the sheet material to minimise harmful movement when working.