How Much Does Tube Bending Cost?

Looking for tube bending manufacturing expertise and wondering how much it will cost? While we can’t actually estimate the cost for manufacturers everywhere, we can give you a quote on how much our tube bending services will cost if you contact us here. If you’re not looking for quotes just yet, this article will help you understand what goes into determining the cost of tube bending so you can get an idea of what you’ll be paying for.

Custom tube cost

Let’s take a look at five main factors that determine the cost of tube bending.

1. Materials

Obviously, you’ll be paying for materials. You’ll get to choose from a variety of wires and tubes offered by the manufacturer. Sizes usually run up to 3.75 mm for wires, 35 mm for end forming tubes, and 42 mm for tubes.

The material quality matters a lot. If the manufacturer offers tubes or wires made of low-grade metal, you’ll end up with poor-quality bends more prone to scrapes, fractures, and breakage. When looking for a manufacturer, always ask them which grade(s) of metal they carry. You want to go with one of the following:

Steel

  • 304: High-strength versatile steel with high corrosion resistance
  • 316: High-strength versatile steel with extremely high corrosion resistance
  • 444: Strong (but not high-strength) steel that’s somewhat versatile and offers decent corrosion resistance
  • Cold Rolled: Strong steel with tight tolerances for fabricating and machining

Aluminum

  • 3003: Medium-strength aluminum with great cold workability
  • 5052: High-strength versatile aluminum with high corrosion resistance
  • 6061: Heat-treatable versatile aluminum but cannot be bent tightly

Steel is usually less expensive than aluminum, but it can rust. If you’re considering steel and if your product will be exposed to water, you have to take corrosion protection into consideration. Some grades of steel come with corrosion resistance, but they’re not entirely rust-proof. You can have the manufacturer implement procedures, such as galvanizing, to protect your tubes or wires from rust. Of course, that will add to the overall cost.

TIP: You may save some money if you select a stock design offered by the manufacturer, even if it’s not quite what your design team came up with.

TIP: When you choose a manufacturer, make sure they include a bill of materials that delineates the metal grade they’ll be using for your project. A good manufacturer won’t ever compromise on the quality to cut corners, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. (Here are more tips on what to include in your next manufacturing contract.)

2. Volume

In manufacturing, volume discounts are common. If making high-volume orders doesn’t make sense for your business, you can see if the manufacturer offers any alternative low-volume processes that may be cheaper and then take their answer into consideration when shopping for bids.

3. Equipment

Tube brazing

Any good manufacturer has a comprehensive equipment setup that enables them to get the job done as efficiently as possible. They also have experienced technicians working with these machines. You want to go with a manufacturer that has state-of-the-art CNC bending machines and brazing machines (such as belt furnaces). Don’t be afraid to ask the manufacturer to take you on a tour of their facilities and explain their equipment and processes to you.

4. Quality Assurance

It costs manufacturers money to do quality control internally, and they factor these costs into your quote. It’s worth splurging on a manufacturer with a good quality control and assurance process because they conduct certified inspections by certified inspectors, which means:

  • Reduced warranty costs
  • Lower service costs
  • Better customer satisfaction

So how do you know if a manufacturer’s implemented quality assurance inspection process is good and thorough? First of all, they will have on-site engineers and a stringent process in place. They will ensure that every single aspect is closely examined in an automated and human-inspected process. Second, they’ll conduct audits on a regular basis.

TIP: Some manufacturers will offer limited quality assurance to reduce their bid. Don’t take these offers because your company will just have to pick up the slack in the quality assurance process, meaning you won’t actually be saving any money.

5. Shipping

Shipping plays a big part in determining your quote. It’s common for an overseas manufacturer to offer a low bid on goods and then tack on a large shipping charge. This is because overseas shipping is a long process that takes up to two months due to the time it takes to sail across an ocean, as well as documentation, customs clearance, handling, and inland shipping. There’s also volume to think about – many overseas manufacturers can’t fulfill low-volume orders because they have to fill a standard cargo container.

The good news is that shipping by truck is a much shorter and cheaper process, and you can ship low-volume orders. It’s possible to ship orders from a Mexican plant (like Intran) to the US or Canada in a matter of one day, which drastically reduces shipping costs.

Key Takeaway

The above five factors play a big part in your tube bending cost estimate. When comparing bids, it’s a good idea to consider each of these factors because going with the lowest bidder that doesn’t include all of the factors may end up costing you more money in the long run.