What to Consider About Sheet Metal Bending When Working with a Local Industrial Machine Shop

Bending is a very common metal fabrication process that involves manipulating flat sheets of metal (including aluminum, steel or brass) by bending and pressing the metal to create new shapes.

Metal fabricators can use bending to create some very complex and highly-functional pieces. It is a critical aspect of metal fabrication and metalworking.

Of course, for the process to be completed properly, there are some considerations you’ll need to keep in mind. Here are a few examples:

  • Flange width: You must maintain a minimum flange width in every bending application. Flange width should never be less than four times the metal’s thickness so you can avoid the occurrence of marks made during the metal fabrication process.
  • Bending direction: Sheet metal should always be bent perpendicular to the metal fiber direction. Bending sheet metal parallel to fiber metal direction can result in cracks where the bend occurs and in reduced strength of the bend. This could cause the sheet metal to break rather than bend.
  • Bending height: Sheet metal should always be bent at a height at least twice the metal thickness plus radius. When the bending height does not exceed that minimum measurement, there is a greater possibility of the sheet metal becoming deformed or twisted, which makes it more difficult to achieve accurate dimensions and the preferred shape for the application.
  • Bending clearance: When bending sheet metal, you should secure a gap to avoid bending failure that can be caused by interference. If there is not a gap located between two bent edges, it is likely there will be interference. Try to maintain a clearance of at least 0.2 mm to properly avoid bending interference.
  • Hole size: You must maintain a minimum hole diameter for sheet metal. Keep it equal to or larger than the thickness of the metal. When drawing your holes, keep in mind that too small of holes could break the tool. The smaller the punch, the greater the chances of breaking.
  • Bending radius: Your industrial machine shop must maintain a minimum radius of bending. This minimum measurement will vary based on the tools used and the bending process. Metal that is more ductile will usually have a smaller radius. To achieve maximum strength, the bending radius should also exceed the minimum bending radius for the sheet metal.

All metal has a standard minimum bending radius. A larger radius doesn’t necessarily mean better results, though, as too large of a radius could result in a larger bending spring back and greater challenges regarding bending height and angle. No radius at all results in external breaking or cracking of the metal and reduces bend strength.

  • Material: Different materials will have their own bending processes. Metals that are thicker than 1.3 mm can generally hold up to any bending, but not all materials are the same; steel can behave quite differently than aluminum even in the same dimensions.

For more information about working with a local industrial machine shop for metal bending, contact us at Metal Works Corporation.