Article
Despite the wide availability and proven performance of more flexible 
wire- and cable-protection products, rigid metal conduit in various 
forms remains a requirement in many jurisdictions and applications. 
Rigid conduit proves maximum protection in harsh and underfloor 
applications.

Bringing Conduit Bending into the Digital Age

Chuck Ross
Despite the wide availability and proven performance of more flexible wire- and cable-protection products, rigid metal conduit in various forms remains a requirement in many jurisdictions and applications. Rigid conduit proves maximum protection in harsh and underfloor applications. And some municipal electrical codes – notably Chicago’s – continue to require rigid conduit throughout a building. A broad range of bending devices have been developed over the years to ease the work of the installers working with this durable material.

With manual benders, the emphasis has been on various improvements to reduce physical stress for contractors. These have included various design changes to enhance stability and improve leverage for operators. Mechanical versions improve bending ergonomics even further, using hand cranks and ratcheting approaches to reduce physical force requirements. Electric benders, however, remove the need for force entirely – and the newest of these offerings are completely programmable. Not only do these sophisticated products take most of the physical effort out of the bending process, they also take on much of the mental work, as well.

To begin, set up can be automatic, with some programmable models featuring sensors on the bender shoes that automatically detect conduit type and size and adjust themselves accordingly. Standard bends can be created with a single, one-button program, and marks for more complex bends can be calculated in less than a minute. And all bend calculations automatically adjust to factor in the spring-back that can occur when bending pressure is released. Even more helpful, bends that an operator knows will need to be repeated can be stored on a USB drive, so calculations don’t have to be repeated with each new piece of conduit.
Photo courtesy of Greenlee
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