Sheet Metal Bending

Bending is an essential part of sheet metal manufacturing. With nearly every industry requiring some form of sheet metal work, the bending process has evolved to include a wide variety of tools and methods to transform flat sheet metal into the three dimensional shapes needed for manufactured products.

The Bending Process in Sheet Metal

The number of ways to bend sheet metal are as unique as the products they create. Some require heat, some force, some careful application of physics — and some a combination of these tools.

Common bending processes include:

  • Air bending, coining, and bottoming, all with a press brake tool, for high precision
  • Three-point bending, powered by servo motors and supplying niche and specialty markets
  • Folding, for handling large sheets of material easily
  • Wiping, for setting edges and overcoming springback
  • Rotary bending, for handling pre-painted or delicate surfaces
  • Roll bending, for creating curves
  • Elastomer bending, for non-marring bends on finished surfaces or sensitive materials
  • Joggle bending, for offset bends

No matter the scale or material, these bending processes all transform a flat sheet of metal into a newly shaped piece. Some of these pieces are finished parts in their own right, while some function as a component that will go on to be part of a greater system.

Specialty manufacturers often offer many unique processes in addition to bending, depending upon the particular demands of their customers. Sheet metal work often involves a combination of these processes.

For example, once metal has been crafted into a shape through bending or forming, it may need to be deburred and polished, or it may require punching or stamping. Finally, it could be protected with a custom powder coating or specialty finish. Manufacturers who offer all of these services in one facility are classified as “single source” metal suppliers.

Sheet Metal Material Choices

One of the most fundamental forms in metalworking, sheet metal begins in flat pieces of varying thicknesses, or gauges. Extremely thin sheets are commonly referred to as “foil” or “leaf,” while those sheets thicker than 0.25 inches are classified as plate.

Sheet metal bend allowances and product performance varies depending upon the material selected and its weight, thickness, form, and so on. Some materials are simply more or less ductile, and possess more or less tensile strength, than others. Common material choices for bending operations include:

  • Stainless Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Carbon Steel
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Specialized Alloys

Industries and Products

Sheet metal bending has countless applications across industries, including ductwork and industrial systems, machine components, architectural and structural components such as downspouts, filters, panels, and tank bodies, just to name a few.

Custom bending sheet metal processes play a key role in the following industries:

  • Defense/Military
  • Medical
  • Aerospace/Avionics
  • Energy
  • Electronic enclosures
  • Custom projects

Contact the team today to see how PMI can assist you!