In the follow-up to the previous article, “Grain size, Part II: How metal grain size affects a bending operation” on The Fabricator, we delve deeper into the world of material grains in sheet metal and plate and their impact on bending operations.
Understanding material grains is crucial because the size and orientation of these grains play a significant role in how a material forms on a press brake. Large-grained materials are more ductile, while small-grained materials are stronger but less ductile. Surprisingly, certain small-grained materials can be easier to bend on a press brake than some large-grained counterparts. For instance, forming very coarse-grain material can result in tearing and orange-peeling on the outer radius, especially when making sharp bends.
To unravel this phenomenon, it’s essential to review the basics. Metals like steel are composed of incredibly small groupings of molecules, typically arranged in a cube-like pattern. While these molecular groupings are minuscule and invisible to the naked eye, they become noticeable through the effects they create. Cold-rolling and cold-working cause the crystals to elongate and align in the direction of the roll, forming the visible grains.
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