Aluminum is a very popular metal for industrial use because of its light weight, strength and durability. Whether you’re a fabricator, engineer, or simply an industrial mechanics enthusiast, you’ll likely need to bend aluminum at one time or another to get the right parts for your project.
Bending aluminum can be a complex process that requires considerable expertise and experience to get accurate, quality results.
In this article, the experts at our industrial machining company walk you through different techniques for bending aluminum, as well as the benefits of each method.
Aluminum bending techniques
Metal bending, including aluminum bending, can be done in many different ways, depending on the specific needs of a project. Let’s look at some of the most common aluminum bending techniques.
1. Press brake
Press bending is a technique that uses a bending press to shape aluminum into a desired form. The bending press is equipped with a folding tool, also called a die, which is designed to bend the metal into a specific shape. The die is placed on the press, and the aluminum is placed underneath it. When the press is activated, the punch moves downward, bending the aluminum into the desired shape.
This technique is ideal for projects requiring right angles and simple shapes. It is also suitable for projects that require high volumes of production, as it allows for the efficient and rapid bending of large quantities of aluminum.
One of the advantages of press folding is its precision. Dies are made to exacting specifications, ensuring accurate and consistent results every time. Additionally, the press can be equipped with a bending force measurement system, which allows for the control for the pressure applied to the aluminum to avoid any deformation or damage.
2. Sheet metal bending
Sheet metal bending uses a machine called a “sheet metal brake” to bend sheet metal or aluminum into precise angles. The sheet metal brake is equipped with two parallel beams, also known as “bending edges,” that bend towards each other to form an angle and bend the desired material.
This technique is suitable for projects that require more complex angles and precise shapes, such as rounded or tapered shapes. It is also ideal for projects that require repetitive shapes, as the sheet metal brake can be programmed to repeat identical shapes on each cycle.
One of the advantages of sheet metal bending is its precision. Additionally, this technique can be used to bend large sheets of aluminum, making it an ideal option for projects requiring high volumes of production.
3. Coil rolling
Coil bending uses a machine called a “sheet metal roller,” which is equipped with a cylinder that rotates to bend aluminum into curved and circular shapes. The cylinder can be adjusted to create tighter or looser curves, and some models of sheet metal rollers are equipped with a measurement system to ensure optimal precision.
This technique is particularly relevant for projects requiring curved or circular shapes, such as round boxes or pipes. It is also optimal for projects involving repetitive shapes, as the sheet metal roller can be programmed by a conventional machinist to reproduce identical shapes on each cycle.
4. Rolling machine
The plate rolling technique uses a machine called a “rolling machine” that is equipped with two or three cylinders. The cylinders rotate at different speeds, allowing the aluminum to be bent into a cylindrical or conical shape. The rolling machines can be manual or automated, depending on the required production volume.
Like the previous technique, this method is suitable for projects requiring cylindrical or conical shapes, such as tubes, air ducts, chimneys, or tanks. It is also optimal for projects involving mass production.
Additionally, this technique can be used to bend aluminum sheets of different thicknesses, making it an ideal option for projects requiring varied dimensions.
5. Hand folding
Hand folding is an ancient technique that is often used for projects requiring a complex and unique shape that cannot be achieved with automated folding techniques. This technique is also ideal for projects requiring a low volume of production or unique pieces.
Hand folding requires considerable technical skill and experience to achieve accurate and high-quality results. Our machine maintenance experts are capable of accurately measuring the angles and dimensions of a piece, as well as handling the aluminum with care to avoid creases, cracks, or deformations.
How to choose the right aluminum bending technique
It is important to choose the most appropriate aluminum bending technique for your project. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right bending technique for your needs:
- Shape complexity: This is an important factor to consider when choosing a bending technique. Simple shapes can be made by a press brake, while more complex shapes are better created using a more precise bending technique such as hand bending.
- Sheet thickness: The thickness of the sheet is also an important factor. Press brake and folding machine techniques are ideal for thicker sheets, while hand folding is better suited for thinner sheets.
- Production volume: Another factor to consider is production volume. If you need to produce a large number of pieces, automated folding techniques can be more efficient. If you need to produce unique or small quantities of pieces, hand folding is a more appropriate option.
- Production time: Automated folding techniques can produce parts faster than hand folding. However, hand folding is ideal for projects that require special attention to detail and quality.
- Cost: Obviously, automated bending techniques can be more expensive due to the initial investment in equipment and machines. Hand folding can be less expensive depending on the cost of labor, but it also depends on the complexity of the shape and the volume to be produced.
Advantages of using aluminum for custom shapes
Aluminum has many advantages over other materials for custom shapes. Here are some of the most notable advantages:
- Adaptability to complex shapes: Aluminum is a highly malleable material, which means it can be bent and shaped into complex shapes while maintaining its strength and durability. Combined with an industrial machining service or industrial machinery design service, aluminum bending offers a multitude of possibilities.
- Lightweight: Since it is particularly light, aluminum is an ideal choice for reducing the overall weight of a piece by avoiding unnecessary thickness.
- Durability and resistance to corrosion: Aluminum is naturally resistant to corrosion, making it an ideal choice for parts exposed to harsh environmental conditions.
- Economical: The production cost of aluminum is generally lower than that of other materials such as steel or copper. In addition, bending aluminum using the right process means avoiding unnecessary material waste, which reduces production costs.
- Aesthetics: Aluminum offers a high-quality aesthetic finish, with a smooth and uniform surface that can be easily polished or anodized to achieve different colors and textures according to your needs.
- Environmentally friendly: Aluminum is 100% recyclable, making it an environmentally friendly option for industrial projects and more.
HARtech: professional metal bending for custom aluminum shapes
Aluminum bending is a production technique that offers many advantages in terms of flexibility, adaptability, and cost-effectiveness. The techniques used to bend this material make it possible to create customized parts to meet the specific needs of businesses, while providing superior durability and corrosion resistance compared to other materials.
The choice of aluminum bending technique will depend on many factors, including the design of the part, budget, quality requirements, and production deadlines.
HARtech specializes in metal bending and can make informed decisions to help you achieve your production goals. Contact us now to learn more about our services!