How to Bend Anodized Aluminum

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Anodized aluminum retains corrosion resistance and increased strength for years. Corrosion problems in anodized aluminum, generally, only occur in areas where aluminum has been bent. However, multiple applications require you to bend aluminum pipes. If you need to bend anodized aluminum, keep in mind that anodizing forms a surface layer of oxides with diamond-like hardness. Therefore, bending results in "crazing" -- fine, hairline surface cracks. Nevertheless, you can successfully bend anodized aluminum using typical protocols. Large aluminum pipes require a conduit bender, but you can use the protocol below to bend pipes 3 inches or less in diameter.

Things You'll Need

  • Jigsaw
  • Lumber
  • C-clamps
  • Spring, with same diameter as aluminum tubing
  • Fishing line
  • Markers
  • Draw the desired curve of your aluminum tubing on a piece of plywood with markers. Use your jigsaw to cut out the shape. Use C-clamps to clamp the wood to a workbench.

  • Tie fishing line to one end of a spring and insert the spring into the aluminum tubing. The fishing line makes it easier for you to remove the spring after bending the tubing.

  • Place the tubing on your wooden shape. Cut the tubing to match the beginning and end of the shape. Bend the tubing to match the curves of the wooden shape. If possible, use only one smooth motion to bend; starting and stopping increases the likelihood of not obtaining the desired curves.

  • Remove the spring using the fishing line.

Tips & Warnings

  • Since bending anodized aluminum tubing results in surface cracking and reduces corrosion resistance, consider de-anodizing the tubing before bending, then re-anodizing it, depending on whether you need your tubing to be corrosion resistant. De-anodizing and re-anodizing are inexpensive and fairly quick processes, although they do require a degree of skill. Alternatively, for cosmetic reasons, you can paint over the post-anodizing cracks on your tube surface.

References

  • Photo Credit a man marking cut line on lumber image by palms from Fotolia.com
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