Trick for Bending Stainless and Other Tough Materials

Stainless steel tubing is still growing in popularity in automotive applications, both in performance exhaust and in street applications. It has many other fabrication uses as well, based on its desirable cosmetic traits.




304 Stainless can be very difficult to bend or form, especially larger diameters, because it is harder, less malleable, and tends to have thinner walls in relation to tubing diameter than other tubing materials. Other materials in which wall thicknesses are thin relative to tube diameter may be similarly difficult to bend and form.

So, if these materials are best for your applications, do you buy a mandrel bender? Or do you pay a fortune for pre-bent parts? If you have experienced the failure of a crushed and worthless part, you may be tempted.

But there is a more economical way to bend. A “Controlled wrinkle” die has gem-shaped recesses that tell the material how to flow to avoid crushing … the material will form into the recesses, forming a distinctive gem pattern and a really nice bend. You may have seen this pattern on some OEM bends. It works amazingly well, and it doesn’t crush your part!

This cool looking and well-formed bend can work very well for many applications. Just to name a few … trucks, street rods, fence gates and other structures. So keep this in mind … simply making your own controlled wrinkle die bends on an inexpensive compression bender is a very economical way to form tough, thin walled tubing.

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