The Best Way to Bend Copper Tubing

February 4, 2022

Copper, as a tubing material, offers excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, making it a preferred choice for a wide variety of applications, including residential and commercial plumping, refrigeration and supply lines, cooling components for lasers, laboratory testing equipment, and more. While copper is known for its formability, it is very difficult to bend without it kinking or collapsing. As such, in order to achieve your desired result, custom copper tube bending often requires extreme caution and access to the proper tools or machinery.  

Is Copper Tubing Easy to Bend?

While copper tubing is relatively soft, it’s not soft enough to easily bend without it collapsing at the intended bend point, no matter how simple the bend. While special tools like a tube bender can help, buying them yourself can be pricey—especially when added to the high cost of copper tubing. For this reason, it may be most cost-effective and efficient to hire a trained professional with the specialized equipment and expertise necessary to cater to any bending requirement.

How to Bend Copper Tubing Without Kinking

Here at Triad Products, we have performed thousands of bending operations for copper tubing applications. Depending on the design requirements, there are many different bending techniques we use to achieve smooth, uniform bends in copper tubing and eliminate the risk of breakage.

Bending Copper Tubing Using the Rotary Draw Bending Technique

Rotary draw bending is ideal for small diameter copper tubes. This process involves clamping a piece of copper tubing and forming it around a die until you achieve the desired bend radius. The copper tube can be rotated to create different bend angles and simple or complex designs. Tight diameter bends require the use of a mandrel and/or wiper dies to prevent the tubing from collapsing or wrinkling.

Bending Copper Tubing Using the Roll Bending Technique

Roll bending is typically used when working with a wider bend radius. In this process, the copper tube passes through a set of three rollers one or more times until the desired bend radius is achieved. The roll bending machine has adjustable rollers with capabilities to create different size bends on the same tube, allowing for the creation of complex geometries.

Bending Copper Tubing Using the Ram Bending Technique

Pipe and tube ram bending is compatible with square or round tubing. In this method, a hydraulic ram is used to push copper tubing against ram rollers or a ram pivot block until the desired bend radius or angle is achieved. While this process is quick and cost-effective, it is best suited to simple configurations without tight tolerances.

Bending Various Copper Alloys

In recent years, copper has risen substantially in cost due to its increased recycle value. This doesn’t leave much room for trial and error when it comes to bending operations, which is why it may be in your best interest to trust trained professionals with your expensive material.

While copper leans on the pricier side of things, it is incredibly reliable in terms of its strength, corrosion resistance, and electrical and thermal conductivity. It also comes in a range of alloys, making it a highly versatile material option for a variety of applications. The most common copper alloys we use in custom bending projects include: The most common copper alloy families include:

  • Pure copper: In its unalloyed state, pure copper is soft with excellent conductive properties. We work with a variety of copper grades, including copper 122 for refrigeration and air conditioning applications.
  • Brass: An alloy made from copper and zinc with good strength and ductility. Common applications for brass include lighting and plumbing fixtures, valves, gears, and bearings.  
  • Copper Tin (Bronze): When combined, copper and tin exhibit excellent strength and corrosion resistance. This material is commonly used to make electrical connectors, springs, machine parts, and more.
  • Copper nickel: Copper and nickel together make for a material that’s thermally stable and highly resistant to corrosion. Copper nickel is used for anything from electrical applications to helical coils for heat exchangers.

Copper Bending: Industries & Applications

As previously mentioned, copper is a preferred choice for many industries and applications. However, each application comes with a unique set of specifications in regard to required diameter, bend radius, tolerance, copper grade, and more. For many industrial applications, it’s critical for components to be bent and finished accurately and according to industry regulations. With years of experience as a tube bending and finishing manufacturer, Triad Products understands how to make high quality parts for any application. Common examples include:

  • Pluming line tubing
  • Straight or coiled tubing for cooling and heating units
  • Laboratory equipment
  • Laser systems
  • Tubes for refrigeration applications
  • Water supply lines

Check out our gallery to view images of the various copper tube bending projects we’ve completed for our customers in plumbing, OEM, water service, heating and cooling, and more.

Trust Triad Products to Take Care of All Your Copper Tube Bending Needs

Here at Triad Products, we have catered to a variety of copper tube bending projects, from simple single bend tubes to complex copper coils with end configurations—we can do it all. Our custom tube bending capabilities enable us to provide copper tubing in a range of sizes and tolerances to meet your needs. We also offer an assortment of secondary operations and finishing services, including welding, flaring, and post-bend threading. Contact us today for more information or to begin discussing your custom copper tube bending requirements.