Tube bending is a manufacturing process that seeks to give a “curvature” to mostly metal parts “before” machining (the process of transforming raw material pieces eliminating excess material in a controlled way until they are given the final shape and set size for manufacturing). These metal works have been carried out since the beginning of the 20th century. They have endured due to their importance in all activities related to the construction industry.
This procedure is performed when a tube is given a radius of curvature, which can vary depending on the diameter of the tube; however, it generally ranges from 1.5 times its diameter to a maximum of 5 times. The processes are usually carried out with specialized bending machines, where the “matrix” that guides the bending is installed until the desired final shape is obtained.
Folded and rolled
Rolling is a process similar (but not the same) to tube bending; it is the shaping of “cold tubes” that go from 5 times their radius to infinity. This type of process uses other types of machines called rolling machines. This is a simpler process than conventional tube bending.
In the same way, both techniques can be applied to steel, stainless steel, aluminum tubes, and to some extent also titanium tubes for the automotive market. The difference that can be found between bent and rolled is the radius of curvature of the tube. In bending, it can be done repeatedly to the same tube.
Bent tubes in history
During history, these processes were used in construction, agricultural production, and furniture manufacturing. This way of working with metal gave the possibility of having shapes that were not otherwise possible, which facilitated the implementation in agricultural, forestry, and metalwork machinery. Time gave way to the expansion of the use of steel tubes in the industry, which opened a new chapter in its use and possibilities.
One of the major expansions that caused this process was the creation of the machine to generate the cold steel bends, which spawned another impulse to the use of this technique. At first, only round steel tubes were used for this process. Still, nowadays, it is possible to work with round tubes, square tubes, iron profiles, among others. Although these last procedures are relatively recent since it was not until the 70s that steel began to have a great demand and application in many sectors of society.
Applications and benefits
In most cases, bent tubes are used to support, frame, or support pipes or structures. But the variety and capacity to use them are very wide. When a tube is bent, it is important to assess the diameter of the tube, its thickness, and the material with which it is manufactured; this is of vital importance since if it is not done in the proper way, it can be deformed or damaged the piece.
These processes generate a great variety of pipes and parts, which are used in construction and other sectors such as locksmith, automotive, and metal industries. Usually, the machines that do a large part of this work are operated electronically. Technological advance allows an adequate use of all resources, having a more agile production and a better duplication of parts.
What do you think about this topic? Do you know other applications or advantages of tube bending?
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