Techniques For Bending Round Aluminum Tubing

There are many different uses of aluminum, particularly as tubing. This can be used in boats, trailers, aircraft, fabrication and even in designing unique displays, artwork or other specialized components.

Typically round aluminum tubing is sold in straight lengths and in different diameters. The diameter of the tubing often dictates the wall thickness, but there is also the option to order custom extrusions that allow the customer to request unique outside diameter measurements as well as wall thickness.

While most of the time tubing is used to handle straight runs, it can also be used to create bends or corners. This is often the case when it is used in applications to protect hoses or to actually allow liquids to pass through the tubing within a system. Aircraft designs or boat designs may also call for curving or bending of the tubing to create a desired component shape.

Basic Considerations

As with most types of materials, the thinner the wall thickness on aluminum tubing the easier it will bend, but it is also easier to crimp or crush rather than to create a gentle curve.

There will also be a maximum bend radius amount in any type of round aluminum tubing based on the size of the tubing and the curve required. Heavier wall thicknesses typically tolerate more of a curve while still maintaining the round shape.

It is important to consider that bending any type of aluminum tubing, depending on the bend radius, can impact the overall strength or load bearing properties. It is also important to think about the specific aluminum alloy as well, as some are more malleable and can tolerate bending more effectively than others.

Home Methods

Ideally, using a metal fabrication shop to bend the specific radius is the best option for someone working from home with limited tools. However, with most types of aluminum alloys filling the round tubing with sand and sealing both ends to create an internal structure to the tube can also be effective. For shorter lengths it is also possible to fill the tube with water, seal off both ends, and place the tubing in a freezer to allow the water to freeze completely before starting the bending process.

There is also a specific tube bending tool that is used to create the desired bend for the tubing. Just keep in mind that it will be essential to choose the correct die for the bending tool for both the diameter of the round aluminum tubing as well as to achieve the desired radius.