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.

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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