First developed as a way to harden the surface of steel, induction bending is now used as an effective alternative to traditional cold bending methods of shaping pipes and other metal components. It offers a host of benefits that can deliver accurately bent metals in an amazingly short time. Here's how it all works and what the process does to create a better end result.
Induction bending uses an electromagnetic field in order to shape the materials, so whichever metal it is used on must be able to conduct electricity. It's commonly used on steel pipes.
First of all, a straight piece of metal is placed in the machine. This is often a pipe, but the process is also used for materials such as girders for construction. At one end of the piece of metal is an induction heating coil, fitted narrowly around it. This coil heats up and maintains a steady temperature of around 1000 degrees Celsius, heating and softening the metal. The precise temperature used depends on the material in question. This method allows the heat to be accurately focused, providing a high level of precision and more intricate bending than is otherwise possible. Once heated, the metal is pushed through using hydraulic power and is immediately cooled by spraying air or water onto the newly bent surface, fixing its shape.
Accuracy is one of the top benefits of the induction bending process. The precision of heat application it allows and the rapid cooling mean distortion is minimised and you're left with a good finish with minimal ovality. Wall thinning is also kept to a minimum, which means the resulting metal is stronger than it can be after using cold bending techniques. Because bends can be tight, intricate and numerous, there's a far lower need for welding and joining. This makes a huge contribution to increased strength and durability and makes the process towards getting a finished pipe much faster. It also leaves a smoother finish.
Because of its usefulness, induction bending is found in many different industries. It can be found in shipbuilding, oil refineries and power plants, where the ability to precisely shape metals can speed up construction and give a safe and reliable result. Anywhere custom shaped pipes are needed, induction bending can be used to get near-perfect results, and the reduction in welding and joins increases safety and makes maintenance a more simple process.