Let’s Get Bendy

In the metal fabrication industry, metal bending is one of the most common metal forming processes. Metal bending, also known as press braking, flanging, and folding, is used to deform a metallic workpiece into an angular shape by use of extreme force. In order for the deformation to take place, the force exerted onto the workpiece must exceed the piece’s strength.

With metal bending, there are quite a few different methods a fabricator could take. In addition, there are various materials other than steel in which a fabricator can transform with a press brake. These materials can range from plastic to wood and iron to alloys, for example.

To get started, let’s break down a few of the more common metal bending methods and the advantages they offer.


V-bending is the most common form of metal bending with a punch and V-shaped die. There are three subgroups to V-bending: air bending, coining, and bottoming, with air bending and bottoming taking up 90% of all bending jobs. The V-bending process takes place when a V-shaped punch forces the work into the V-shaped die, ultimately bending it.

Air Bending

Air bending is a subgroup of V-bending that does not require a sided die. The term air bending, also known as partial bending, is when a metallic workpiece is reshaped without actually touching the die cavity. The workpiece is, instead, rested on two points and the punch pushes down on the bend. If a fabricator makes the decision to use air bending, they will be offered much more flexibility, but less accuracy than coining or bottoming.

One of the advantages that comes with opting for air bending is that it allows the bending of thicker materials and varies the depth of the punch stroke in order to successfully bend at different angles. With this kind of flexibility and adaptability, the fabricator can invest less on tooling and won’t need to change their tools as often. In addition, since air bending does not require as much tonnage, this means that there will be less wear and tear on your machines, ultimately making them last much longer.

Unfortunately, air bending does have its disadvantages as well. While this method offers more flexibility with forming different angles, the bending angle can be heavily influenced by the sheet metal’s spring-back. Spring-back is when the metal relaxes after bending. Depending on the type of metal, the spring-back can also vary and cause the metal to bend at angles that were not initially intended or desired. In order to counteract the spring-back, it’s often suggested that sheet metals with constant thickness and resistance be used.


Prior to modern machinery, coining used to be the preferred method of metal bending as it once offered the most accuracy. The term coining comes from actual metal currency coins because coins need to be made identical to one another in order to keep them distinguishable enough to spot counterfeit coins. However, with modern technology and equipment, it is now not as commonly used.

Contrary to air bending, coining deforms the workpiece to fit the die’s exact shape by applying an extreme amount of tonnage. Fortunately, since this method allows the fabricator to deform the workpiece to the die’s exact shape, there is no spring-back to worry about. This is due to the fact that when the die deforms the workpiece, it’s using extreme force to penetrate the workpiece, ensuring a very small radius for the bend, which ultimately guarantees high precision.

While coining seems to be a more accurate method, due to the extreme amount of tonnage needed to deform the workpiece, it requires four to five times more high bending force than air bending. In addition, it requires more tools for each angle and shape. For some fabricators, this isn’t an issue. It’s all up to preference and what the project is!


The last form of V-bending is bottoming, also known as bottom pressing or bottom striking. Bottoming is when the punch pushes the workpiece onto the die surface, ultimately deforming the piece. What makes this method different from the others is that the inner radius of the angled sheet is completely dependent on the die’s radius.

As the inner line becomes more compressed and deformed, the more force is needed to fully deform it. Fortunately, the final bend angle is preset based on the die’s radius, making the exertion possible. In addition, the more force that is used, the chances of experiencing spring-back decreases. Unfortunately, like coining, bottoming requires a different tool set for each bend angle, sheet thickness, and material.

At MFI, we use a 225-ton press brake for all of our metal bending needs. This powerhouse of a machine is capable of bending sheet metal up to 12 feet long and 3/4” thick, making it easy to craft large and small projects. With a team that is committed to delivering high quality projects and decades’ worth of experience in the fabricator industry, we hope you think of us for all of your metal fabrication needs.

To get a better look at our metal forming and bending capabilities, check out our video below.

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Truly Made in the USA: How US Manufacturers Work Together

As an entrepreneur, when you have a great idea for a product or service, one of the first things you do is surround yourself with a support system: someone who is well-versed in marketing, manufacturing, information technology, etc. The same type of mentality is at the forefront of every successful business, including manufacturing. By creating lasting relationships with other manufacturers and distributors, a business can ensure that all contributing parties, consumer included, are satisfied.

Depending on the industry or company size, manufacturers are sometimes limited in what they are able to produce or interested in producing. Take for instance, a mattress manufacture store. If a consumer were to walk into a mattress store in search of a new one, they would easily be able to get what they’re looking for. However, people need more than just a mattress to sleep on; there’s fitted and top sheets, comforters, pillows, pillow shams, etc. When that consumer enters the mattress store, they’re going to need more than what the store is offering them, so some may even opt for a completely different store where they can get a mattress and its accessories all in one place, resulting in a lost sale.

Now, the mattress store doesn’t (and sometimes can’t) need to also start manufacturing accessories; all they have to do is partner with a local bed linen manufacturer. By partnering with another manufacturer, the mattress store doesn’t need to worry about maintaining a large inventory stock and storage, transportation costs will be lower due to ground transportation instead of shipping overseas, and a local partnership will offer both businesses the opportunity to collaborate with one another.


Machine for the production of springs. International Exhibition of Metalworking.

This kind of special and necessary partnership isn’t limited to just retail stores. In our business, it is just as crucial for us to work together with other local manufacturers and distributors. If one of our machines is down or if we run out of parts needed to fabricate, for example, a customer’s hard drive crusher house, we won’t meet our goal. Meeting deadlines, crafting our projects to our customers’ needs, and customer centricity is a hallmark to MFI so by partnering with other local manufacturers, we can stay on track and keep all parties happy and satisfied. We have the ability to go to our partners for spare parts or utilize their equipment instead of waiting for weeks, even months, for parts to be shipped overseas or equipment replaced.

It’s here when it is important to remember that when opting for an American-based business, the benefits are not just limited to the consumer – manufacturers, distributors, and local communities are also rewarded.

By partnering together, manufacturers can order spare parts from each other or local distributors that already carry the needed inventory. This will drop the lead time and help the fabricator with meeting their customer deadline (which leads to a satisfied customer!). Local distributors can carry items at a lower cost and typically without a minimum order like some of the larger manufacturers and those abroad. This will allow the fabricator to purchase the parts without buying in excess and requires less inventory, which leads to less money spent and less need for storage. There’s also the added bonus of using ground transportation rather than ocean shipping, one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, which allows for a smaller carbon footprint. By forging these relationships, you not only save time and money, but the environment as well!

Now that we’ve covered how the consumer and manufacturers benefit, they don’t just stop there.

There is a plethora of reasons why a consumer or business may opt for the American-made route when it comes to manufacturing and/or distributing product. Consumers may want to shop more consciously and ethically by supporting businesses that treat and pay their workers adequately and fairly, offering them a better quality of life. Some consumers may feel a sense of familiarity and trust when shopping locally. Other consumers may be looking to directly support the American economy and local communities, as shown in a 2012 Boston Consulting Group report stating that a reported 80% of Americans will pay more for an item if it leads to supporting more U.S. jobs.

As you can tell, when manufacturers partner together, they can offer shorter lead times, more flexibility and room for collaboration, save themselves and their customers money, and continue to serve the exceptional service their customers deserve, while helping their local communities.