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Cost and Availability of Structural Steel
Albina Pipe Bending Co., Inc. understands the impact that material availability and consistent material costs have on steel fabricators. We are in a current economy where structural steel required for a project is not always readily available and if it is available it may not be available at the originally quoted cost.

In a memo to valued customers dated March 19th 2007, Albina Pipe Bending has learned from a local steel service center, Lampros Steel:

“If you haven’t heard by now, prices for most steel products are going up- quickly. Scrap has been increasing in value dramatically in the past thirty days- and China is not a factor. In fact, China is out of the scrap market at present. Russia is seeing huge steel demand within their borders and has stopped exporting on the world market. Korea and Japan are busy-and-they are large scrap buyers.”

Marcus Lampros went on to indicate, “Where is supply heading? We have already seen signs of another shortage. Nucor has already cut back allocation to some fabricators and distributors. Small beams shouldn’t be a problem- large beams, especially 14” and 16”, will be hard to get.”

The advice from Lampros is, “do not panic! Wide Flange will stay high for the rest of the year-plan on it. Shortages will occur for certain, so make sure to lock up your steel when you get a job- and make sure the sized are available when you need them.”

To help avoid problems associated with material shortages and fluctuating steel costs Albina Pipe Bending feels that early interaction with subcontractors is essential. Steel fabricators should contact a qualified bending company early in a project- don’t hesitate to get an order placed. Bending companies, like Albina Pipe Bending, can purchase material and put it on hold at today’s costs which will hold pricing consistent and will insure that material is available when bending is required. This early involvement will also secure a spot on a benders production schedule which will also help reduce the bending lead-time.

Plan ahead and communicate with all key subcontractors! It will be the best way to avoid problems associated with material shortages and fluctuating material costs.
What do Bending companies really need to know?
When a bending company, like Albina Pipe Bending Co., Inc., approaches a project, they need to know certain information if they are going to successfully produce what the customer requires. Albina Pipe Bending makes a practice of asking questions prior to the acceptance of a purchase order to avoid assumptions that could cost the customer or end user time and money. The following are key elements that should be discussed before any bids are issued for a project. What are you trying to bend? This may seem like an obvious question, but it isn’t always asked or answered. It is critical before starting any project to confirm: • What is the member shape (pipe, tube, angle, wide flange, etc) • What is the member size and thickness (weight) • What is the material type (A53, T304, A500, A36, etc.) How is the material oriented? It is critical to confirm and define how a structural member is bent. Poorly detailed drawings can be difficult to interpret easy-way vs. hard-way or flanges-in vs. flanges-out. What is the final application of the bent material? Most importantly, is the material AESS (Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel)? Unfortunately AESS means different things to different end users; there are no set definitions to what an AESS product should look like. To help create definition and clarity, Albina Pipe Bending provides distortion and deformation estimates for AESS projects. This helps to define “AESS” prior to a project beginning. Project schedule / lead-time are elements that are always best discussed as early as possible. When the bending company, like Albina Pipe Bending, is contacted at the beginning of a project, bending issues can be discussed and resolved early to avoid any costly delays. Issuing a purchase order early in a project to your bender will allow your project to be scheduled accordingly to meet or exceed delivery requirements. Communication is always the key element in anything. Find a bending company that you are comfortable with, has a high level of industry experience, customer service and capabilities is critical to the success of your bending project. Ask questions early and often, assume nothing! This will allow for cost savings, quality products and favorable outcomes.
Bending HSS the easy-way vs. the hard-way
Contrary to what most people think, bending HSS (hollow structural sections) the "hard-way" will frequently result in less concavity (distortion) then bending the same size of material the "easy-way".

Bending the hard-way simply means that the steel member is being bent around/against the "strong-axis".

Bending the easy-way simply means that the steel member is being bent around/against the "weak-axis".

When bending the easy-way, the greater difference between the sides of the tubing will result in greater distortion (less concavity on the inside of the bend). For instance, TS 8" x 2" (a difference of 6”) will have less concavity on the inside of the bend than TS 16" x 4" (a difference of 12").

When bending either the easy-way or hard-way concavity may become less of a problem if the wall thicknesses of the material are increased. For example, TS 12" x 6" x .250" wall material bent the easy-way will result in more concavity (distortion) then TS 12" x 6" x .375" wall bent to the same radius.

Bending companies, like Albina Pipe Bending Co., Inc. implement various techniques to minimize concavity (distortion) when bending HSS material the easy-way and when bending the hard-way. These techniques include but aren’t limited to: bending style (roll, increment, hot, etc), tooling, internal support systems, etc.

It is critical that the end user states their distortion requirements (i.e. what does the material need to look like after it is bent) prior to receiving a quote for bent HSS. By discussing your distortion requirements early in the process, before a quotation is issued, bending companies like Albina Pipe Bending Co., Inc. are able to provide accurate quotations representative of what end users require.