Those dang millennials. Always trying to be in front of a computer screen. Now it's even spilled into the world of metal manufacturing, and the way we fabricate metal tubing and sheets
What is CNC bending, and why should the old-fashioned OEM manufacturer care about it? The short answer comes down to just a few points.
CNC bending services:
- Save time
- Save money
- Deliver consistent components
- Set a high quality standard
If you’ve been requesting other tried-and-true methods for decades, we imagine you’ll want some support for these bold statements, so here goes:
What Are CNC Bending Services?
Bending is a type of forming. The engineer uses force to change the shape of the metal, either manually or through advanced technology.
CNC forming automates the old-school manual bending step in producing tubular metal components. The action happens on CNC press brakes (or brake presses) that can handle sheet metal sections ranging from a few millimeters to multiple meters long.
The component’s design poses no problem for the machine’s ability to bend it. The only restrictions are the size of the machine and the tensile strength of the metal. Remember, getting the shape you want is great, but if you bend the material past its "breaking point," you can guess what's going to happen. (Sorry in advance for further complicating things, but *some* overbending is good. [See: springback])
For component customers, it’s all about finding a manufacturer with the right CNC bending machine. The rest should be a cinch, especially if your CNC manufacturer assists in the design process.
Time & Cost Savings
It’s difficult to separate time and cost. After all, time is money in OEM manufacturing. But there are some things to keep in mind when considering a move to CNC tube bending.
Reducing Costs -- Materials & Labor
CNC forming services are more efficient than, say, welding -- at least in terms of material needs. If you’re using one machine to shape the component simply by bending it at the right point and angle, you don’t need all the fixtures and joints that joint welding requires.
Then there’s the automation factor. Automation almost always means the need for fewer workers to carry out some of the tasks that the machine does. In the case of CNC forming, the welding staff can be reduced significantly. Fewer workers to pay means lower labor costs for you.
One of the most important uses for automation is to speed up the production process. CNC fabrication accomplishes this acceleration by reducing the need for manual labor. What’s more, the improved consistency and accuracy of a CNC machine -- especially a precision CNC machine -- removes the need for many of the weld fixes that have to be accomplished with a manual system.
More on Consistency & Accuracy
Customers who come to metal component manufacturers are getting more and more particular about tolerances because the tolerances they want to achieve are getting tighter and tighter. CNC machines are well suited to achieving precision bends. Best of all, it’s able to maintain exacting tolerances over long runs.
In other words, as long as the metal has the tensile strength to handle the bending and the CNC bending machine is set to the right bend radii, you can expect consistently accurate bends over the longest run. Mathematical precision is built into the process.
A Summary of Tubes & Bending
This fancy bending technology is particularly well suited to metal tubing for all the reasons given above. CNC tube bending services:
- Greatly reduces the need for welds and the accompanying fixtures and joints
- Cuts the time needed for setups and changeovers
- Speeds throughput
- Shortens cycle times
- Produces consistently high-quality tubular components
In short, CNC tube bending saves time and money in production, and that translates into time and money savings for the metal component manufacturers’ customers -- and their end customers, too. It also means a higher-quality end product, and that makes all parties happy.
Need More Information?
More metal manufacturers are adopting CNC forming machines, but weirdly their use is hardly universal. We say to those will using manual bending services -- your loyalty is admirable, but it’s time to move on.
To realize all the benefits and understand the CNC process better, talk with a manufacturer who has adopted the technology. It’s worth the time when you consider the possibility of cost savings.
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in November 2018 and was recently updated.)