How to Bend Aluminum
How to Bend Aluminum
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Aluminum is a very easy-to-use metal. We often use it in construction, in the manufacture of pipes, in radio amateur practice. It happens that an aluminum sheet needs to be bent in a certain shape, or at a certain angle. Most often, an angle of 90 degrees is required. This metal became so popular for several reasons. First, metal is very ductile, it is easy to bend it and give it the required shape. Second, aluminum has a low melting point.

But when performing actions with metals, regardless of whether it is aluminum or another metal, you should know a few things:

  • Properties of metal and its characteristics;
  • Have special tools;
  • Have a knack;
  • Know how to maintain the integrity of the sheet material in places of deformation;
  • Know the stages of metal melting and bending.

We will talk about all this in our article. After reading this material, you will know how to properly work with aluminum sheets, how to bend and shape them correctly.

What is aluminum?

Aluminum is the main structural metal of our time. It possesses such properties as resistance to corrosion, lightness, functionality, strength, ease of melting at low temperatures. You can find aluminum in almost all objects that surround us. We find it in the cars we drive, the houses we live in, mobile phones, trains, and planes.

This is the 13th element of Mendeleev’s periodic table. Aluminum has a silvery-white color and is the most common metal. It is practically the lightest metal in nature. It is extremely practical, easy to shape, and corrosion-resistant because they cover its surface with a thin but tough oxide film. Using aluminum, you can create alloys with almost all metals, it conducts electricity well and has no magnetic properties.

Such material is easy to process under pressure and gives it the required shape. We can process the material both in the cold and in the heated state. Aluminum is non-toxic, it can be rolled, stamped and does not require special painting or coating with additional anti-corrosion materials.

How to bend aluminum: key features

Aviation and machine-building, electrical engineering, and many other industries can no longer exist without the use of aluminum. We also use it in construction and renovation work. For the correct bending of the sheet, it is necessary to know in what way it is possible to bend the sheet with high quality so as not to spoil it.

There are two of the most effective and common methods that you can use at home.

Calibration bending of aluminum sheet. Using this method, you can easily change the shape of the leaf plate. There will be no air gap between your workpiece and the punch.

Free or air bending of the aluminum sheet. Most often, craftsmen use this particular technology. Unlike the previous method, there will be air between the metal sheet and the punch.

Before you start working and bend aluminum to a certain angle or shape, you need to decide which method you will use.

Advantages and disadvantages of free bending aluminum

Modern industry rarely produces pure aluminum. Most often, these are already finished products or alloys of aluminum and other metals. If you bought a blank sheet, and you need to give it a certain shape, then experts who work with aluminum advise using the free bending method.

Pros:

  • Using this method, you can bend sheets of different thickness;
  • Equipment for this method is much cheaper and available to everyone;
  • The high degree of metal flexibility;
  • Requires less time and effort;
  • We can bend aluminum plates at different angles.

Cons:

  • It is difficult to work with products of complex geometric shapes;
  • Low accuracy of angles when bending thin aluminum sheets;
  • Accuracy depends on physical properties.

It should be noted that even using this method and considering all the advantages and disadvantages, you must have certain tools and skills.

Which grades of aluminum can be bent and which cannot be bent?

To understand which grades of aluminum can be bent and which cannot, you need to know which types of aluminum are generally produced. There are four main types of aluminum that have different physical properties. Accordingly, the degree of deformation of these materials will differ.

Annealed. It is the softest grade of aluminum. It lends itself well to deformation. We can make any shape from such aluminum. It is unnecessary to exert great effort when working with such metal because its sheet can easily break.

Semi-standardized aluminum. This type can withstand flexion of 90 degrees, has more rigid properties. This type is used as a facing material because it is difficult to leave dents on it and it practically does not deform.

Hard-worked aluminum. By making sheets in this way, they become stronger, can withstand heavy loads, and bend well at 90 degrees.

Hardened aluminum. This grade of aluminum is the hardest. Working with such a sheet, you will have to make a lot of effort to give the sheet the required shape. If the sheet is not preheated, it will crack at the fold.

Aluminum grades to be bent

Grades VD1 and 1105. These materials have a high strength index. They are most often used if you need to make a product of a certain shape. These materials still have a low removed weight. It is one of the cheapest alloys that does not corrode.

Duralumin is considered being a powerful material with high wear resistance. This material does not bend well but is often used when stamping certain parts.

AMG alloys. These materials bend very well, they include aluminum, magnesium, and manganese. Acids and alkalis do not harm such material, therefore it is most often used in the industry. They make special containers from it in which they store fuel, reagents, chemicals, etc.

AMTs alloys. Such materials are very flexible. They are most often used for making parts of complex geometric shapes.

Alloys A5, AD are popular in the food industry.

Aluminum bending methods

We often use aluminum at home. When building a house, different buildings.  We use an aluminum sheet and bent it to give it a certain shape. For example, the construction of frames, gutters, roof canopies, and more. There are several common ways to bend a sheet of aluminum at home and make the desired product out of it.

Bending an aluminum sheet by hand

This is the cheapest way. You can use it if the aluminum sheet is thin, or you bend thin rods, an aluminum profile. To do this, you will need physical strength and metal scissors. Make marks in the required meta. After that, take scissors and make slight cuts along with the marks. These marks will be used to bend the metal sheet.

If it’s an aluminum profile, then you don’t even need a vise. You just fold it over the cut points. If it is a sheet or a rod, put it in a vice and fix it. Take the other edge with your hands and bend it in the required direction and at the desired angle. Take out the product and check if it meets your requirements or not.

Using a bending machine

The bending machine is a special piece of equipment. It is very easy to make it at home. Such an assembly will help to bend the aluminum sheet and give it the required shape and configuration. For manufacturing this unit, you will need a bed, galvanized knives, a beam for pressing and pressing, a crimping beam, a beam for turning the sheet.

This is a hand-held machine, so you can only shape aluminum sheets on such a machine when the sheet thickness is only 0.07 inches. For the base of the machine, a profile metal roll, a channel, and we use a metal beam. We make the clamping device of steel plates. Use tongs and pliers to assemble the machine.

Manual flexion

Manual folding saves money, but we can use this method for thin sheets. We use manual bending devices for aluminum sheets in home workshops. We can bend some structures using a forging machine, using a stamp, and improvised tools.

Take a sheet of aluminum. Place the laundry soap in warm water ahead of time and keep it there until it gets wet. Apply soap to the fold. Take a gasoline or gas burner and heat the bend. Then bend the aluminum sheet against the corner. When folding, you can use two wooden planks to crimp the sheet. You can also use a small hammer or wrench. With small taps, give the sheet the required shape.

Using a metal corner and mallet

This method is the simplest. It is used if there is no way to buy expensive materials and equipment. Take a press machine, place the sheet to be bent into it, and push its edge out. Using a hammer and sharp, precise blows, you bend the sheet of metal into the shape it needs.

It is worth drawing your attention to the fact that using this method you most likely will not get accurate and even fold.

Using a car jack

With a car jack, you can bend aluminum pipe and sheet metal with good quality. The device has high strength, so you can fix the sheet of metal with a jack and give it a certain shape, even if the sheet is thick.

Take a jack and place a sheet of aluminum on the telescopic bar that comes in from below. Place it on the pins and start bending the metal. The bar will bend the metal to the desired shape. Do this carefully and follow all the rules so that the sheet does not deform, and in the place of the fold, it does not crack at all. As a result, the parts will last you very little and quickly become faulty.

Using a homemade aluminum plate bending device

You can make the bending machine yourself. To do this, you need two identical chipboard parts. The size of the parts depends on the size of the aluminum sheet. The larger the sheet, the more detail you will need. Connect these parts using spacer washers. The washer is less than 1 inch thick and 3-5 in diameter.

Bending the aluminum sheet. To do this, take a piece of wood and fix it on the edge of the table. The table must be stable and massive. It is good if we attach the table to the floor and it does not move. Slide the beginning of the sheet diagonally between the washers. Put one hand on the device, and with the other pull the sheet towards you so that it bends slightly when force is applied.

Move the sheet and continue bending. Gradually, in several passes, you can bend the sheet more or less evenly and give it the required shape, radius.

Such a device can also be used to bend the corner. However, in this case, you need a burner. You do all the manipulations, just before you make an effort and try to bend the corner, you need to warm up the fold with a heating pad. You need to do everything slowly, carefully, and then you will achieve a high-quality result.

If you are faced with the task of bending an aluminum pipe, then you will need a machine that you made according to our tips, as well as river sand. The sand must be dry. If you have wet sand, place it in a baking dish and place it in the oven for 30 minutes. Once calcined, it will fit you perfectly. Fill the pipe with sand, then close tightly on both sides. If you did everything correctly, then the bending will be effective, the pipe will not wrinkle. You can bend the pipe even faster if you preheat it with a heating pad. In this case, you don’t even need a vice. You will be able to bend the pipe by hand.

Aluminum sheet bending by specialists

If at home you could not bend the sheet correctly, it cracked at the folds or chips appeared, we advise you to contact a specialist. When performing such work, specialists use all known methods of machining metal.

They use modern equipment that makes it possible to achieve maximum compliance with the drawings and your requirements. Specialists comply with all requirements and do not violate the metal processing technology. At each stage of the work, control is carried out and if the product is damaged, they will replace it free of charge.

FAQ

Should you heat aluminum to bend it?

Yes, you should heat aluminum to bend it. However, the temperature and amount of time that it is heated will depend on the thickness and type of aluminum being used. Generally speaking, heating aluminum between 500 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit is usually sufficient for most projects. The process of heating the aluminum can be done with a torch or in an oven. It’s important to note that when heating aluminum, it tends to emit fumes and smoke which can be hazardous if not properly ventilated. Additionally, you should take precautionary measures such as wearing safety glasses and using protective gloves when handling hot metal. Once the desired shape has been achieved, allow the aluminum to cool before touching or manipulating further. With careful heating, you should have no problem bending aluminum to the desired shape.

What’s the best way to bend aluminum?

The best way to bend aluminum is to use a press brake. This tool uses hydraulic force to make precise bends in sheet metal, tubing, and other materials. It’s fast, accurate, and can produce a wide range of angles and depths. You may also find that a roller bender or an angle bender can be used for small jobs or intricate shapes. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to take the time to measure and mark your cuts accurately before beginning the bending process. With proper preparation and care, you’ll be able to achieve professional-looking bends in aluminum!

How do you bend aluminum without breaking it?

Bending aluminum without breaking it requires a bit of finesse and patience. The key is to use a softer material, like wood or plastic, to keep the aluminum from breaking under pressure. You’ll also want to pay attention to the type of angles you’re creating, as anything more extreme could snap the metal. It’s best to start with smaller bends first until you get the hang of it, gradually increasing in size and complexity once you’ve mastered the basics. If possible, use vise-grip pliers to hold your aluminum in place while bending, which will help prevent it from slipping out of shape mid-bend. Lastly, make sure that you’re using enough heat when performing any kind of bend – too little heat will make your aluminum brittle and vulnerable to breaking. With the right equipment, some practice, and a bit of patience, you can easily bend aluminum without breaking it!

At what temperature does aluminum become pliable?

The answer to this question depends on the type of aluminum. Generally speaking, pure aluminum needs to be heated up to somewhere between 600 and 700 degrees Fahrenheit in order for it to become pliable. However, alloyed aluminum may require higher temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit in order for it to become malleable. Since these temperatures are so high, they cannot typically be achieved without special machinery or tools. To get an exact temperature for a specific type of aluminum, it is best to consult with a professional metalsmith or a manufacturer that specializes in working with aluminum.

What tool will bend aluminum?

The best tool for bending aluminum is a sheet metal brake. Sheet metal brakes are specialized tools that are specifically designed to bend sheet metals such as aluminum. They allow you to create precise bends and angles with ease, making them invaluable in any metalworking shop. Alternatively, a press brake can be used to bend aluminum if you need more precise control over the angle of the bend. Press brakes can be very expensive, however, so they may not be the most cost-effective option for your project. Depending on what type of shape you’re trying to achieve, you may also want to consider using a jig or an industrial die set for bending your aluminum material. Both methods provide excellent precision and accuracy but require a bit more skill to use than a sheet metal brake. Ultimately, the right tool for bending aluminum depends on your project and budget. However, a sheet metal brake is usually the best option when it comes to getting a nice, clean bend in aluminum material.

Can you bend aluminum by hand?

Yes, you can bend aluminum by hand. Depending on the thickness of the aluminum and how much pressure you are willing to exert, you may be able to produce a small bend in thin pieces of aluminum. However, for larger or more pronounced bends, specialized tools like an aluminum bender or press brake will be necessary. In addition to these tools, extra safety measures should always be taken when bending metal as it carries some potential risks such as sharp edges and released energy from stressed metals. As such, if attempting to bend thicker sheets of aluminum by hand, it is highly recommended that protective gloves and eyewear are used for added safety. Additionally, take proper care not to scratch or damage the surface of the material while handling it.

Does heating aluminum weaken it?

Yes, heating aluminum can weaken it over time. When aluminum is heated, the metal grains expand and become less dense, making it more prone to damage and wear. Additionally, when aluminum is subjected to excessive heat for too long, the metal grains may start to move around or shift in their place. This weakens the overall integrity of the material and makes it more susceptible to breaking or cracking. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of how much heat you are applying to your aluminum materials so as not to compromise their structural strength.

It’s also important to note that different types of aluminum will react differently when exposed to heat – some may be able to withstand higher temperatures while others might require lower temperatures in order for them not to be compromised. It’s best to consult with an expert when attempting to heat aluminum for any application so as to ensure that you are doing it in the safest and most effective way possible.

Overall, heating aluminum can weaken it over time if done incorrectly or in excess, but proper care should be taken and professional consultation should always be sought out when necessary to ensure that your aluminum materials remain in good condition.

Can you bend aluminum with a heat gun?

No, you can’t bend aluminum with a heat gun. When exposed to too much heat, aluminum will melt and become brittle, cracking or breaking under pressure. The best way to bend aluminum is by using a press brake machine. This machine applies force to the metal in an exact location, allowing for intricate bends with precision. If you don’t have access to a press brake machine, you can use a manual bending device like hand benders or jigs that clamp down on the material when preshaped around a forming block. Of course, this method won’t be as accurate as a press brake but it can get the job done if you don’t need extremely precise bends. To reduce springback of the bent part, you can anneal the material first, which will soften the aluminum and make it easier to shape. Whatever method you choose, just be sure to wear protective equipment when working with metal and never exceed the recommended temperature of your tools.

Can you bend aluminum with a propane torch?

Yes, you can definitely use a propane torch to bend the aluminum. Before beginning, make sure the metal is clean and free of dirt or debris that could keep the heat from evenly distributing. Heat the aluminum in short bursts until it becomes malleable so you can shape it easily. Depending on the thickness of the aluminum, this could take anywhere from 30-90 seconds. Once it’s hot enough, use tongs or pliers to carefully guide and shape the aluminum into your desired form. Allow time for cooling before handling further!

It’s also important to note that many DIY projects don’t require an exact measurement when bending aluminum with a propane torch. So if you’re unsure how much heat to apply, it’s better to err on the side of caution and apply less heat than more. That way, you can prevent your aluminum from becoming damaged or warped.

What thickness of aluminum is bendable?

Aluminum gauge thickness can be an important factor in determining the bendability of a metal. Generally, anything thicker than 16 gauge (1.5mm) is too thick to be bent by hand and would require a machine to bend it accurately. Aluminum 14 gauge (2mm) or thinner can usually be bent easily with just your hands but caution should still be taken when attempting to do so as aluminum is quite brittle when compared to other softer metals like copper. Additionally, depending on the desired shape you may need a stronger bending force than what can be provided with just your hands. In those cases, using a sheet metal brake or jig-saw could help achieve better results. It’s best practice to always test small pieces before attempting to bend a large sheet of aluminum.

What is the easiest aluminum to bend?

Aluminum alloy 3003 is considered to be the easiest aluminum alloy to bend. This is because it has higher levels of manganese, which provides extra flexibility and makes it easier to work with. It’s also relatively low in strength, so it doesn’t require a lot of force or pressure to make bends. When bending this type of aluminum alloy, you should use a jig or fixture that applies even pressure throughout the entire bend. You’ll also want to use an anvil or hard surface for backing up your material as you bend it. If done correctly, 3003 aluminum alloy can be bent into almost any shape with minimal effort!

Is aluminum harder to bend than steel?

It depends. Aluminum is typically much lighter than steel, so it can be easier to bend with less force. However, some grades of aluminum are actually harder to bend than certain grades of steel due to their higher strength. The type and grade of the metal plays a big role in how difficult it will be to bend the material. If you are looking for a metal that is easy to work with and shape, aluminum may be the better choice as it tends to be much more malleable than steel. However, if you need something with high durability and strength then steel may be your best bet. Ultimately, it comes down to what qualities you need from your metal before deciding which one will work best for your needs!

Useful Video: Right Way to Bend Aluminum

Final words

Aluminum – the material is very plastic and there is only one difficulty in deforming an aluminum blank. If you do the bending incorrectly, then cracks may appear at the bend, the sheet may not bend as smoothly as you would like. But this does not always happen, and more often due to a lack of human experience.

For the correct bending of aluminum plates, pipes, and other parts, first assess your knowledge of metal, skills, and skills in working with such material. Check if you have all the tools you need. Only then get to work. If the result does not satisfy you, you can always contact a specialist. They have special machines and quality equipment with which they will give your aluminum sheets any configuration.


Hello! I'm a James Miller, and I'm an expert in materials science. I learned different metal properties in the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and I know everything about all kinds of metal. That's why I want to share my experience with you.

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