What can you bend with an exhaust bender? This question comes up often. Sometimes you want to know the materials that can be bent with a bender. Sometimes you want to know the maximum outside diameter to bend a range of exhaust parts. Other times it is how thin can your wall thickness can be for a specific exhaust material. Lastly, many exhaust parts have very tight radii. How small a radius can you bend on an exhaust bender? Let’s look at these questions individually.
Different Material to Bend on Exhaust Bender
As you may already know, the exhaust industry has several popular materials. A quality exhaust bender will be able to bend the material you want. For example, look at the Hines 300 Semi-Automatic bender or Hines 300CNC BendPro bender. The Hines 300 is the most popular bender in the car exhaust market. This quality bender has plenty of torque to bend any of your exhaust material, and beyond. Not only will you be able to bend stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum, but also other materials. If you expand your exhaust market to different products you can even bend copper and cupronickel. Basically, as long as your material has bendable properties it can be bent on a quality exhaust bender.
Maximum Outside Diameter (OD)
The exhaust industry has an extensive range of products. For car exhaust the most popular outside diameter range is 1” OD to 4” OD. For truck exhaust, the outside diameters are typically up to 6” OD. There are different exhaust bender models for a reason. Bending an OD that is too small for your bender will not work. Likewise for bending an OD that is too large for the capacity of your bender. Again, capacity is so key. Larger OD’s require more tonnage and torque. The larger OD’s also need more area for the tooling and the tube to bend. There is also a minimum OD that your bender can do. Therefore, when you look at exhaust benders make sure you know the maximum OD and minimum OD your bender can do. Providing a list of your bend specifications will make sure you get the right exhaust bender.
Material Wall Thickness
Thin wall tubing is popular in the exhaust industry. Walls like .083, .065 or .035 can be done on a quality exhaust bender. The biggest concern is the ovality and wrinkling of your tube. You want the smoothest bend to the inside. Moreover, you want to keep the ovality of the tube. To accomplish this you look at an exhaust bender with wiper die and mandrel capability. A wiper die wipes your tube to remove the wrinkles on the inside of the bend. A mandrel supports the inside of your tube while bending. Equally important, the exhaust bender should have mandrel extraction. In short, using a mandrel is just the first step. Your mandrel extractor pushes the correctly fit mandrel forward into the bend area. Then the extractor is timed correctly to pull the mandrel back out of the tube. This keeps the ovality of your tube.
Tightest Bend Radius
Lastly, how tight a radius can you bend? The typical bend die radius asked for in an exhaust bend is 1.5D. Meaning 1.5 times the diameter of your tube. So a 3” OD tube can be bent on a 4.5” centerline radius. For most exhaust applications 1.5D or more is great. However, there are some custom jobs that require as tight a radius as 1D. A quality exhaust bender like the Hines 300 Semi-Automatic or Hines 30CNC BendPro benders can accomplish a 1D bend. However, it does require a learning curve and experience to get the machine settings and dies just right for 1D bends. Any experienced operator will agree. So even though 1D sounds good, it may not be the most practical, efficient, and cost effective radius to bend.