Basic Magnet Design
The Magnabend machine is designed as a powerful DC magnet with limited duty cycle.
The machine consists of 3 basic parts:-


The magnet body which forms the base of the machine and contains the electro-magnet coil.

The clamp bar which provides a path for magnetic flux between the poles of the magnet base, and thereby clamps the sheetmetal workpiece.

The bending beam which is pivoted to the front edge of the magnet body and provides a means for applying bending force to the workpiece.


3-D Model:
Below is a 3-D drawing showing the basic arrangement of parts in a U-type magnet:


Duty Cycle

The concept of duty cycle is a very important aspect of the design of the electromagnet. If the design provides for more duty cycle than is needed then it is not optimum. More duty cycle inherently means that more copper wire will be needed (with consequent higher cost) and/or there will be less clamping force available.

Note: A higher duty cycle magnet will have less power dissipation which means that it will use less energy  and thus be cheaper to operate. However, because the magnet is ON for only brief periods then the energy cost of operation is usually regarded as being of very little significance. Thus the design approach is to have as much power dissipation as you can get away with in terms of not overheating the windings of the coil.  (This approach is common to most electromagnet designs).

The Magnabend is designed for a nominal duty cycle of about 25%.

Typically it takes only 2 or 3 seconds to make a bend. The magnet will then be off for a further 8 to 10 seconds while the workpiece is repositioned and aligned ready for the next bend.  If the 25% duty cycle is exceeded then eventually the magnet will get too hot and a thermal overload will trip.  The magnet will not be damaged but it will have to be allowed to cool for about 30 minutes before being used again.

Operational experience with machines in the field has shown that the 25% duty cycle is quite adequate for typical users.  In fact some users have requested optional high power versions of the machine which have more clamping force at the expense of less duty cycle.

Magnabend Clamping Force:

Practical Clamping Force:

In practice this high clamping force is only ever realised when it is not needed(!), that is when bending thin steel workpieces. When bending non-ferrous workpieces  the force will be less as shown in the graph above, and (a little curiously), it is also less when bending thick steel workpieces.  This is because the clamping force needed to make a sharp bend is very much higher than that needed for a radius bend. So what happens is that as the bend proceeds the front edge of the clampbar lifts slightly thus allowing the workpiece to form a radius.

The small air-gap which is formed causes a slight loss of clamping force but the force needed to form the radius bend has dropped more sharply than has the magnet clamping force. Thus a stable situation results and the clampbar does not let go.

What is described above is the mode of bending when the machine is near its thickness limit.  If  an even thicker workpiece is tried then of course the clampbar will lift off.


This diagram suggests that if the nose edge of the clampbar was radiused a little, rather than sharp, then the air gap for thick bending would be reduced.

Indeed this is the case and a properly made Magnabend will have a clampbar with a radiused edge. (A radiused edge is also much less prone to accidental damage compared with a sharp edge).

Marginal Mode of Bend Failure:

If a bend is attempted on a very thick workpiece then the machine will fail to bend it because the clampbar will simply lift off.  (Fortunately this does not happen in a dramatic way; the clampbar just lets go quietly).

However if the bending load is only slightly greater than the bending capacity of the magnet then generally what  happens is that the bend will proceed to say about 60 degrees and then the clampbar will start to slide backwards. In this mode of failure the magnet can only resist the bending load indirectly by creating friction between the workpiece and the bed of the magnet.

The thickness difference between a failure due to lift-off and a failure due to sliding is generally not very much.
Lift-off failure is due to the workpiece levering the front edge of the clampbar upwards.  The clamping force at the front edge of the clampbar is mainly what resists this. Clamping at the rear edge has little effect because it is close to where the clampbar is being pivoted. In fact it is only half of the total clamping force which resists lift-off.

On the other hand sliding is resisted by the total clamping force but only via friction so the actual resistance depends on the coefficient of friction between the workpiece and the surface of the magnet.

For clean and dry steel the friction coefficient can be as high as 0.8 but if lubrication is present then it could be as low as 0.2. Typically it will be somewhere in between such that the marginal mode of bend failure is usually due to sliding, but attempts to increase friction on the surface of the magnet have been found to be not worthwhile.

Thickness Capacity:

For an E-type magnet body 98mm wide and 48mm deep and with a 3,800 ampere-turn coil, the full length bending capacity is 1.6mm.  This thickness applies to both steel sheet and aluminium sheet.  There will be less clamping on the aluminium sheet but it requires less torque to bend it so this compensates in such a way as to give similar gauge capacity for both types of metal.

There needs to be some caveats on the stated bending capacity:  The main one being that the yield strength of the sheet metal can vary widely.  The 1.6mm capacity applies to steel with a yield stress of up to 250 MPa and to aluminium with a yield stress up to 140 MPa.

The thickness capacity in stainless steel is about 1.0mm.  This capacity is significantly less than for most other metals because stainless steel is usually non-magnetic and yet has a reasonably high yield stress.

Another factor is the temperature of the magnet.  If the magnet has been allowed to become hot then the resistance of the coil will be higher and this in turn will cause it to draw less current with consequent lower ampere-turns and lower clamping force.  (This effect is usually quite moderate and is unlikely to cause the machine to not meet its specifications).

Finally, thicker capacity Magnabends could be made if the magnet cross section was made larger.

Post time: Aug-12-2022