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Motorsport Fabrication Fundamentals: Sheet Metal Bender

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Sheet Metal Bender


00:00 - One of the more common tasks we'll want to perform as fabricators is bending sheet metal.
00:05 This is a seemingly simple task yet it greatly expands what we can do and the range of tasks and components we can complete.
00:13 Bending sheet metal is just as important for fabricating larger components like a fuel tank or a firewall as it is for producing smaller components like brackets and mounting tabs.
00:24 If we look at any factory firewall, fuel tank, floor pan or panel, it'll inevitably have a complex 3D shape that allows the panel to be light yet maintain a high level of strength and rigidity.
00:37 All these panels were produced from flat sheet metal that was cut into a blank, then inserted into a die and formed into the shape of the part with a hydraulic press.
00:47 Unfortunately that sort of equipment and process isn't feasible for us but we can still bend sheet metal and manipulate it to make the parts that we're after.
00:56 It's just not going to be a 10 second process.
00:59 A bending operation causes deformation along one axis but a sequence of several different operations can be performed to create a more complex part.
01:08 The simplest way to bend sheet metal is in a bench mounted vice and the majority of the simple brackets we commonly make can be built this way but there are a few tips and tricks that are worth knowing if you want to get the best results.
01:21 Simply clamping your workpiece in a vice and bending it by hand, isn't going to get you a great result.
01:27 Unless you're using soft jaws, the work piece will be marked by the vice as we've previously touched on and you won't be able to achieve a sharp or accurate bend if you're just relying on the jaws of the vice alone.
01:38 To improve your results there are attachments that are available to turn your vice into a press break which is essentially a small V shaped die set that's used to achieve a bend of up to 90°.
01:50 Using this sort of attachment allows you to get a nice sharp and even bend that perfectly aligns with your markers.
01:58 Of course the vice does limit the size of the material that you can bend so it's not a solution for every job.
02:04 If you want to be able to bend larger sheets of material quickly and easily, then it might be worth considering a dedicated sheet metal bender.
02:11 These come in a wide range of sizes and designs depending on your budget and your requirements.
02:17 The smaller units can be mounted on an existing work bench while larger benders, capable of taking a full 2400 x 1200 sheet of material will be freestanding.
02:27 Irrespective of the particular bender, they will have movable steel fingers on the upper section of the clamping area that are adjustable and allow us to perform complex 3D bends by rotating the sheet metal and shifting the upper clamping fingers as required.
02:42 There are some important considerations we need to keep in mind when bending different thicknesses of sheet metal.
02:48 Often for example we'll need to adjust the upper clamping area so that it allows the material to bend on a radius no smaller than its thickness.
02:56 For instance, if we're bending 2.5 mm sheet metal then our inside radius should be close to 2.5 mm.
03:03 Keeping this in mind will prolong the life of your bender as it'll reduce the strain when bending thicker materials.
03:10 It's especially important when bending aluminium as it can be susceptible to cracking along the fold line if this minimum bend radius rule isn't employed.

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