In this tutorial we’ll cover all the basics for designing your files with bends.
Before you Begin
We realize everyone has a different level of knowledge and experience. We’re here to help you at every stage of the process. If you’ve never sent us a file before, or are unfamiliar with metal bending, we have a few guides you may want to check out before proceeding:
Please upload a flat vector file such as .DXF, .AI or .EPS as you normally would. Make sure the file you upload for bending is a flat, 2D file. You will be able to view your bends in a 3D model during the checkout process to make sure the angles and flange orientations are correct.
If you design your parts in non-CAD software (Adobe Illustrator), please send us the original (native) ai file. We’ll take care of the conversion on our end. While we accept .AI and .EPS files, it’s critical that your bend lines are parallel when uploaded from these softwares or the file will delay our process.
For the fastest turnaround on your order, we recommend designing your parts in a CAD software, such as Fusion360, AutoCAD, or SolidWorks.
There are a two main things to note when designing for bending: bend lines and bend deductions. We’ll cover both of these points and more.
First you need to decide where your bend (or bends) will be on your part. Some things to keep in mind are the minimum and maximum flange length. The flange length must be at least 1/2″ (.500″) or 4x the material thickness, whichever is greater. The maximum flange length is 22″. Some materials will require different flange lengths based on the material type and thickness, so be sure to reference our bending max/min chart to know exactly what your project can handle.
Once you’ve planned your bends, you will need to indicate where on your part you want the bend(s) to occur. We refer to these as the bend lines. On your flat file, you will indicate these lines differently depending on what file you are using. The following table explains exactly what indication we need from your software:
|Fusion360||.dxf||Solid line (default)|
|Adobe Illustrator||.ai||Solid, separate color from cut lines|
|SolidWorks||.dxf||Dashed line (default)|
|CorelDraw||.eps||Solid, separate color from cut lines|
|Inkscape||.eps||Solid, separate color from cut lines|
The next thing to consider is bend deduction. Bend Deduction is used to counteract material stretch caused by forming. This is unique to each material type, thickness, and bend angle. Don’t worry, we’ve created a calculator to help you make your measurements spot on.
Advanced-user note: All calculations should be for air bending not coining.
Once you have your new measurements from the bend calculator, you’ll want to adjust your design file accordingly. You will be reducing the length of your base and flange to accommodate the length of the bend itself. See the illustration below for an example. The green line indicates where the bends will occur. Keep cut out areas and holes away from these lines to avoid distortion.
When designing and calling out your bend angles, it is important to note that the angles are measured on the outside of the bend. See the example below. The acute bend is measured as 130°, and the obtuse bend as 45°.
3D Rendering or Profiles
In addition to your flat vector file, we recommend sending a 3D rendering or a side view profile to help us understand how you are expecting your bends.
If you don’t have access to 3D rendering software such as SolidWorks or Fusion 360, you can always send us a sketch or profile view of your drawing in Illustrator. If all else fails, send us a screenshot of the side view from our Bending Calculator.
Exporting your design
We’ve set everything up on our end to make uploading as painless as possible. When designing in Illustrator, please send us your files in .ai format.
As always, before you upload your file, go through the usual checklist to make sure your file is ready to be cut.
Check out our processing page for information about typical lead times for parts with bending and other services. We provide free 3-5 day shipping for standard orders (higher quantities may require additional time). Most bent parts will ship ground as they will exceed 2″ in height when packed.