Most people understand that bending and shaping metal is not an easy task, but they rarely know how complex the process can be. Most metals are rigid and cannot be bent unless they are heated, something that can take a lot of time and energy. Even then, bending hot metal still takes a significant amount of effort, and because it has been heated, in some cases to thousands of degrees, it is also dangerous. This isn’t taking into account that some metals can be bent while they’re still cool, something that is a different process in itself.
Bending and shaping metal properly takes a lot of training and education, and it is recommended that it be left to professionals. However, if you still want to learn more about shaping metal, here are some basics.
There are typically five main methods of bending and shaping metal, each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. Some kinds of metal might require a particular method to be shaped, so it’s best to become familiar with all five methods.
Also known as cold bending or roll bending, this method is used to give bars of metal a large curve. Because it doesn’t require any heat, it is usually the cheapest method of bending metal. Roll bending is accomplished with a special device that curves bars or strips of metal between three coils, giving it a large and gentle curve.
Incremental bending is also known as gag bending, and it is used for curving a bar to a large radius. This is accomplished by applying pressure with a hydraulic ram while the metal bar is held securely in place.
This is what most people think of when they imagine metal bending and shaping. The metal is heated by a direct flame or furnace and bent while it is soft and malleable. This method is often used to make repairs on metal structures.
This is a more complicated method of bending metal in which a structural member is rotated around a die, creating tight and complex curves ideal for machinery.
This method of bending metal involves heating a small section of a structural member with an electric coil. The metal is then bent through a process similar to rotary-draw bending and cooled with water. In some cases, this can create tighter bends than what is possible through the rotary-draw method.
Each of these methods of shaping metal are used for different purposes and projects. As with just about every aspect of a construction project, it’s important to know exactly what is required when bending or shaping metal. The member shape, size, and orientation are all important to know, and they will help determine what bending method is best.
Ask the Experts
If you are just learning how to bend and shape metal, always remember that it can be a difficult and complicated task. It is, however, one of the most important elements of most construction projects, and a metal bender will have little trouble finding work in the construction industry. Before you get started, never be afraid to ask experts for advice, and never attempt these tasks without the proper training.