Sheet Metal Bending Services: What It Is and How It Works

Sheet metal is a great material to work with because it’s easy to bend and can be reformed into many different shapes. There are many different bending processes available for sheet metal, so let’s take a look at what each one does, how it works, and how it can benefit your next project!

Sheet Metal Bending: How It Works

Sheet metal bending is a forming process where sheet metal is passed through a die or series of dies to form the sheet into a specific shape.

Sheet metal bending can be used to create many different shapes and contours, including rounded shapes. The most common type of bend involves passing the sheet through an appropriately shaped die that will form one or more bends.

It’s important to note that not all types of production processes are appropriate for every product. In fact, some manufacturing methods are better suited for certain industries than others.

If you’re trying to figure out which production method might work best for your business, it helps to contact a sheet metal fabricator like IMS.
But first, some science.

How Do Fabricators Bend Metal?

The amount of force required to bend a sheet metal part depends on many variables. The most important are:

  • Thickness of the material
  • Tensile strength of the material (the amount of stress it can take before breaking)
  • Radius of the bend
  • Bend angle

A metal fabricator’s job is to use the correct method to bend a piece of metal without breaking it. Some metals bend more easily than others, while some types of bends are harder than others.

For example, bending a thin and soft piece of iron into a gentle curve will be easier than bending a thick, brittle piece of iron at a right angle. This idea is why there are so many different methods for metal fabrication.

Heating a metal makes it softer, and less likely to break during a bend. Stretching a material can change its characteristics to make it more suitable for bending. All of this is managed by metal fabricators, who must get it right on the first try or risk wasting material.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of sheet metal bending.

Punching and Pressing

Punching and pressing methods are used for thin sheet metal that does not require stretching.

In punching, a punch is pressed into the die to create the bend. The die is typically made of hardened steel, which makes it more durable than cold-rolled sheet metal.

The other end of the punch may be formed with a different shape (such as a hexagonal hole) that allows it to fit into another tool called an anvil. A work table will hold down the sheet metal while this process takes place, so it stays in place as it bends.

The drawback of punching and pressing is that it can create blisters or dimples on the finished product if the raw material was too thick or had sharp corners or edges. This is commonly seen with cheaper, less experienced metal fabricators.

Air Bending

Air bending is a process where the sheet metal is bent in a press that uses air pressure to form the bends. It can be used for thinner sheets since it involves less stretching of the material, which results in less distortion and stress on the part. In addition, air bending is faster than other methods and achieves a higher level of precision.

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V-bending is a good option for thicker materials and applications involving tighter bend radii.

V-bending is a form of sheet metal fabrication that uses a V-shaped die to bend the material into a curved shape. This tool can be used to create many different kinds of bends, including 90-degree angles, curves, and more.

The tool creates a series of tiny holes along the length of each side of the bend and then compresses them closed in order to hold the shape as it is pressed into place.


Folding processes involve bending sheet metal along a straight line to create bends with small radii. These can be used to create complex shapes with multiple bends in one pass. Large parts may be folded using this method as well, which may be preferable to welding when they are too large for welding equipment or repairs are needed quickly.


Coining is a process in which material is pressed into the bottom die using high pressure, achieving tight bend radii and consistent bend angles. The process can be used for both flat and round materials as well as soft and hard materials.

Rotary Draw Bending

Rotary draw bending uses dies rotated around a work piece to create bends of various radii.

In rotary draw bending, each die is attached to an arm that can be pivoted at its center so that it can rotate around the axis of the part being bent.

The dies are spaced close together as they are rotated around the part using an indexing mechanism that moves them one after another into position opposite each other so as not to interfere with one another’s movements.

As each die rotates around its respective arm, the material between them is bent by the tension created by pulling on both ends simultaneously until they reach their desired shape and size.

Achieve The Bend You Need With IMS

Choosing IMS for your sheet metal fabrication needs means choosing quality, timeliness, and flexibility.

At IMS, we are more than just a manufacturing company. We are a precision powder coating and sheet metal fabrication business that helps companies of all sizes across Minnesota improve overall costs by providing them with innovative solutions and flexibility that matches their business needs. Our skilled team of engineers provide all-in-one solutions for those needing complete Metal Fabrication services, including laser cutting, forming, welding, hardware, assembly, and powder coating.

Ready for a Free Quote?

We proudly serve the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. It only takes a minute! Select the service you’d like, upload your designs, and a member of our team will respond with a free quote as soon as possible. If you don’t have design mockups, or need some help figuring out a design, we’d love to help! Simply give us a call and a member of our team would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Lead Time

3 days

Parts Completed


Manufacturing Footprint

55,000 sq ft.

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