How to Bending Metal Pipes

How to Bending Metal Pipes

You can bending metal pipe and tubing in one of several methods, depending on what you plan to use the bent pipe or tube for. The problem in bending pipe is figuring out where and how much to bend the pipe. While many bending tools come with a set of instructions for figuring out such things as bend allowances and bend deductions, they are often written in a complex manner and assume a knowledge of mathematics that intimidates many users. While it's not possible to completely eliminate the math, it is possible to plan how to bend a piece of pipe in such a way that figuring the bending angle is simplified and so that the only math needed is simple arithmetic. The method described below is not simple, but with practice, you can master it.


Choose the right bending tools for your needs. 

Ram style bending, also called incremental bending, is usually used for putting large bends in light-gauge metal, such as electrical conduit. In this method, the pipe is held down at 2 external points and the ram pushes on the pipe at its central axis to bend it. Bends tend to deform into an oval shape at both the inside and outside of the bend.

Rotary draw bending is used to bend pipe for use as handrails or ornamental iron, as well as car chassis, roll cages, and trailer frames, as well as heavier conduit. Rotary draw bending uses 2 dies: a stationary counter-bending die and a fixed radius die to form the bend. It is used when the pipe needs to have a good finish and constant diameter throughout its length.

Mandrel bending is used to make stock and custom exhaust pipes, dairy tubing, and heat exchanger tubing. In addition to the dies used in rotary draw bending, mandrel bending uses a flexible support that bends with the pipe or tubing to make sure the pipe interior isn't deformed.

Induction bending heats the area to be bent with an electric coil, and then the pipe or tube is bent with dies similar to those used in rotary draw bending. The metal is immediately cooled with water to temper it. It produces tighter bends than straight rotary draw bending.

Roll bending, also called cold bending, is used whenever large bends are necessary in the pipe or tubing, such as in awning supports, barbecue grill frames, or drum rolls, as well as in most construction work. Roll benders use 3 rolls on individual shafts to roll the pipe through as the top roller pushes down to bend the pipe. (Because the rolls are arranged in a triangle, this method is sometimes called pyramid bending.)

Hot bending, in contrast, is used considerably in repair work. The metal is heated at the place where it is to be bent to soften it.