Freeform bending uses one set of tooling to bend variable/multiple radii. Normally pipe and tube bending requires a bend die, a clamp die and a pressure die; with freeform bending the material is continuously guided through the machine using one die that is the size of the pipe or tube being bent. Most any radius can be achieved using a single die set.
In most types of bending, a straight length is necessary between bends for clamp dies to hold the part in place while in process. Freeform bending does not require clamping, eliminating any possibility for marking the tube or pipe. Minimal tooling is required, helping to reduce lead times and, in some cases, streamline costs. Freeform bending is ideal for creating prototypes, or producing complex parts with multiple radii.
Ideal for Multiple Applications
Freeform bending is also ideal for parts with angles greater than 180 degrees, or those that require multi-radius bends with little to no distance in between. Another advantage is that one die or tooling set can create any radius; therefore, modifications can be easily made during the part development process. Because there are no mandrels or clamps used with freeform bending, set-up time is quicker. With minimal tooling, product designers can take advantage of freeform bending technology to create a prototype in a relatively short period of time.
Thinner walled tubing – commonly used for food and beverage equipment, furniture and fixtures and in medical/healthcare products – is ideal for freeform bending. Parts with a heavy wall thickness may not be viable candidates.
Bringing it All Together
Freeform bending may be the right method to produce your part if angles greater than 180 degrees are required or, if multi-radii bends with little to no distance in between are desirable. Additionally, freeform bending means lower tooling costs: one die or tooling set can create any radius, and radius modifications can be made during the process. If part cosmetics are important – meaning minimal to no marking on the inside or outside of the pipe or tube – freeform bending is a good choice.
For more information on custom bending projects, please contact us.
This blog was authored by Randy Krickeberg, Plant Manager, Sharpe Products. Randy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.