What are the different types of rebar bending machines?

Reinforcement bars are inserted into the cement to provide stability.

Generally speaking, there are three types of rebar bending machines: manually driven, hydraulic and electromechanical. The simplest machines, hand-powered hickey bars, are readily available and inexpensive. Hydraulic machines are slower and less durable than electromechanical devices, but they are also cheaper. Manufacturers of large rebar bending machines build them to customer specifications, making each machine a little different. These giants are almost always electromechanical.

Concrete is often poured over a rebar grid to increase its strength and durability.

The task at hand determines the nature of the rebar bending machine. For occasional use on smaller diameter rebar, a hickey bar is usually the best choice because of its low cost. A hickey bar is a simple lever arm – a long steel bar – with a groove or pins for gripping rebar at one end. Arm strength and body weight are used to apply force to the other end of the hickey bar to bend the rebar.

For a sharp turn, two hickey bars can be used. These single rebar bending machines can be used on rebar up to 5/8 in. (1.6 cm) in diameter. Hickey bars with cutting capability are also available.

For bending more than a few rebar parts, an electromechanical or hydraulic machine is a better choice. Some of the hydraulic machines are quite portable, weighing only 33 pounds (15 kg), and are designed to be hand-held. These machines are designed to bend rebar left exposed after concrete has been poured over a web of rebar. Turns of up to 180 degrees are possible with these machines.

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When the contractor is bending rebar in preparation for installation in a mold, larger machines are usually chosen. Larger benders are generally trucked and generally do not leave the truck bed until the rebar is in place and the machine is returned to storage. These machines run on diesel fuel, allowing them to run on job sites that do not have a power supply.

Even large on-site machines can handle rebar up to 30 mm (1.18 in.) in diameter; larger diameters must be bent out of place. The most powerful, multi-purpose programmable rebar bending machines are large, fixed in place, and expensive. They are usually bolted to concrete floors in industrial buildings, where they bend and cut. Off-site rebar benders generally work like pipe benders, but even these can only create 180 degree bends.

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