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A bend radius is the inward force applied to any type of material before it becomes damaged or unable to hold its original form. It is measured by the length in which an object can be manipulated into a 180-degree turn to form a crude type of semi-circle, and the calculations are then recorded so that suppliers and laborers will have a definitive explanation as to the flexibility of the object. The minimum bend radius calculation is a critical component for manufacturers in many different types of industries, because it allows them to select materials that will be able to withstand long-term pressure at a variety of angles once implemented within some of their projects.
To give a basic example of bend radius and how it is implemented in practical situations, individuals can look at a garden hose and the extreme flexibility it has due to the rubberized materials used to create it. This type of object has a very small bend radius since it can be wound in small, tight circular patterns without kinking—overall, it generally makes a suitable device to deliver water in numerous parts of a yard. If that same hose were made from galvanized steel, the bend radius would be a large figure, since the device could only be bent one degree or less per foot or meter. It would require much more material for a steel hose to encircle an area than it would a rubber hose, and contractors use this information to make decisions on which types of products would best suit their needs. If flexibility is the primary concern, then a small minimum bend radius is sought; if overall strength and stability are the main objectives, then a very large bending radius is preferred.
The minimum bend radius is calculated on pipes, tubes, cables and hoses. Plywood, beams, walls, and many other types of objects are also measured in this way to show the maximum safe curvature once installed. Many underground utilities rely heavily on this bending principle to ensure that the hard outer shell contains enough flexibility to allow the inner wires and components to be displaced at a variety of angles while being connected to other points on a grid. An oversight of this principle could lead to a state that would allow natural erosion to damage the internal components within them. Since it is generally expensive to remove miles of underground tubing in order to locate and repair the defective section, laborers rely heavily on bend radius to avoid these types of errors.