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Sheet Metal Forming——Sheet Metal Bending

Bending of sheet metal is a common and vital process in manufacturing industry. Bending is the plastic deformation of the work over an axis, creating a change in the part's geometry. Similar to other metal forming processes, bending changes the shape of the work piece, while the volume of material will remain the same. In some cases bending may produce a small change in sheet thickness. For most operations, however, sheet metal bending will produce essentially no change in the thickness of the sheet metal. In addition to creating a desired geometric form, bending is also used to impart strength and stiffness to sheet metal, to change a part's moment of inertia, for cosmetic appearance and to eliminate sharp edges.

Bending enacts both tension and compression within the material. Mechanical principles of metals particularly with regard to elastic and plastic deformation are important to understanding bending, and are discussed in the fundamentals of metal forming section. The effect that material properties will have in response to the conditions of manufacture will be a factor in sheet metal process design. Usually sheet metal bending is performed cold but sometimes the work may be heated, to either warm or hot working temperature.

Most bending operations involve a punch die type setup, although not always. There are many different punch die geometries, setups, and fixtures. Tooling can be specific to a bending process and a desired angle of bend. Bending die materials are typically gray iron, or carbon steel, but depending on the work piece, the range of punch-die materials varies from hardwood to carbides. Force for the punch and die action will usually be provided by a press. A work piece may undergo several bending processes. Sometimes it will take a series of different punch and die operations to create a single bend. Or many progressive bending operations to form a certain geometry.

Sheet metal is referenced with regard to the work piece when bending processes are discussed in this section. However, many of the processes covered can also be applied to plate metal as well. References to sheet metal work pieces may often include plate. Some bending operations are specifically designed for the bending of differently shaped metal pieces, such as for cabinet handles. Tube and rod bending is also widely performed in modern manufacturing.