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Section Bending

Section bending has long been the mainstay of the Barnshaws group and it was section bending that was the first service to be offered when Barnshaws started in 1969. 

To ensure that we can give the customers the best service and quality, Barnshaws has always invested in the latest and most advanced machinery so that we can offer what our customers require. 

We now have the leading capacity worldwide in section bending and our experience gives customers the confidence to design structures with minimal limitations.

Section Bending Information


At Barnshaws, we offer a uniquely comprehensive cold section bending service, providing the following decisive advantages: -

  • Bending capacity to be able to handle the largest sections that can be produced in the mill
  • The world’s largest capacity range
  • Sections up to 35m long
  • The most advanced bending systems available
  • Any size order is achievable
  • Multiple bends possible
  • Faster and more energy efficient in comparison with other methods
  • A completely controlled and recorded process

To ensure the most cost effective and efficient material usage, we provide a material utilisation pre-order analysis. This assists our customers in achieving unrivalled competitiveness and giving them a true edge in the markets they serve.

Section Bending


To bend sections, there are two main processes – cold bending and induction bending.  Cold bending is accomplished by passing the steel member back and forth between sets of rolls.  The point load applied by the central roller is sufficient to take the steel past its yield point and introduce a permanent set.

The bending takes place between three points. As the diagram shows, no bending takes place until the section touches all three points or rollers.

Bending Rollers

When the section, which is driven through the rollers, meets the third roll it will deflect. The deflection will depend upon the position of the rollers. The more deflection the more the section will bend. I.e. the smaller the radius.

Section Bending


Cold bending takes the material past its yield point which strain hardens the steel to some degree.  Some of the yield plateau has to be used, so in general plastic design is not recommended.  The toughness of the steel can also change, particularly at small radii.  It is worth emphasising that at most radii found in structural applications, the changes are modest. 

Curving Steel

For normal low carbon steels and including structural steel, the strain induced during the bending process produces no real problems, as he material exerts the same elastic characteristics in the elastic range.

As mentioned, during the rolling bending process, the material must have exerted on it a stress greater than its yield strength or elastic limit.  This is the maximum stress that the material can be subjected to and still spring back, or return to its original length.  The yield point or elastic limits is shown as point ‘A’ on the figure below, a typical stress-strain curve.  A stress less than the yield strength will not permanently bend the material.  The amount of stress to apply to the material being bent is in area ‘C’, which is the plastic region.  These lines show how, when the stress is removed, the material will spring back to a length somewhat smaller than when the stress was being applied.

Rolling Process

The steel sections become work hardened when using the cold bending process.  The amount of work hardening is dependent on the radius required and the geometry of the section.  The results in a ‘flattened-out’ stress-strain curve as shown in the diagram above.  A tensile test on a sample of steel that has been cold-roller bent will show a small loss in ductility, but a higher Ultimate Tensile Strength, which results in a loss of some ductility.  Even though there is a loss of some ductility, for normal structural applications, the effect is minimal and can be ignored.

Often, the most important effects of the curving process are aesthetic, rather than structural.  The steel on the outside of the curve tends to get stretched (and therefore thinner) whilst the steel on the inside of the curve tends to become thicker.  There can be some visible distortion on sections caused by the bending process, for example with thin hollow sections, the bending process can cause visible ripples at small radii, therefore our expert staff will more that often advise when it is more appropriate to supply a thicker wall section to reduce the impact caused by the bending process.


The minimum radius to which a section can be bent without any meaningful distortion depends on the section properties and bending methods being used.

As the years have gone by these minimum radii have been reduced as new techniques have been developed, so the minimum has continued to get smaller

Normal bending tolerances for single radius bends are in line with those specified in the National Structural Steelwork Specification.  Tolerances for multi-radius bends or other complex curves are best discussed with one of our specialists at the design stage.

It is not easy to provide a definitive and comprehensive list of the radii to which every section can be curved.  There are large numbers or standard sections (each with different bending characteristics), there are different methods of bending (hot and cold), and the end-uses vary widely.  Also, with continuing technical developments, ‘minimum radii’ also change. 

In general, sections, tubes and hollow sections can be curved to single radius curves, to multi-radius curves, to parabolic or elliptical curves, or even to co-ordinates.  They can also, within limits, be curved in two places or to form spirals.  There are, however, a number of physical constraints which limits the degree to which three-dimensional curvature is possible in practical terms.  It is important therefore, that any requirements for three-dimensional bends are discussed in detail at enquiry stage.

View our Tolerances page


Barnshaws is the first metal bending company in the UK to have achieved total compliance with En1090-1; Requirements for conformity assessment of structural components, covering the supply of curved components to Execution Class 4 (Exc4). All our induction bent products are therefore fully CE marked for traceability.

Successfully assessed by SCCS, Barnshaws is able to assure customers that it has systems in place to ensure that all materials used in manufacture are correct for purpose, with a traceable audit path and that the Barnshaws product in question is fully compliant with its expected end use.

The CE Mark also confirms the competence, knowledge and skills of manufacturing staff and that manufacturing equipment is properly maintained and calibrated (where necessary).

Barnshaws invested a six-figure sum to achieve accreditation. Particular emphasis was placed on both the tensile and yield strength of products in the performance assessment of every aspect of the product range, using hundreds of samples fabricated to a variety of different radii.

The company has involved its entire supply chain in the CE Marking process, to ensure that all product components acquired from third parties are in full compliance in terms of measurement and performance.

All of Barnshaws’ five UK operations have been audited by SCCS during the accreditation process.

Technical Information

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