The Vast Capabilities of a 3D Freeform Tube Bender

What is Tube Bending?

Rainier Industries is proud to be the only fabricator in North America that offers 3D Freeform Tube Bending. Our Tube Bending machine has the capability to do both conventional 3D bending and freeform variable-radius bending.

Once the design files are approved for a project, we input an IGS. RHI. or, DWG file into the 3D Freeform Bender for processing. The Tube Bender has the ability to bend a variety of materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and more. The longest tube that the bender can hold is 20′ long with a radius bend of approximately 6″.

Operating the bending machine is simple. First, we input the shape of the design into the program on the machine, then the bender outputs 20-foot sticks in the exact shape that we program. Typically, this process would take hours to do by hand, but the tube bender outputs the product in just minutes. Additionally, the bender has the capability to print on the tube prior to beginning the bending process. The properties of printing on a tube could include a bar-code, QR-code, text (labeling), saw lines, drill holes, alignment marks, etc.

The Meridian at The Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The Meridian anchors the East and West ends of the Charlotte International Airport Terminal lobby with a self-illuminating, algorithmically-driven set of twin sculptures. Our Freeform Tube Bender created multi-access bends of custom laser-perforated stainless-steel tubes that articulate pathways that represent the spiraling cycle of the sculptures.

The Meridian sculptures represent the cycle of departure and arrival in the spiraling motion and the dynamic movement of the integrated lighting.

See more images and information from the artist, here.

The Meridian at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport
The Meridian at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The Canyon at The Salt Lake City Airport

The Canyon features remarkably dramatic curves at an immense scale, so we began searching for the perfect piece of equipment that would make this project come to life.

The capabilities of the tube bender have allowed us to create over 500 individual tensile membrane fins for the Salt Lake City Airport project over the course of a few years. Once the tube bender has output each piece, the pieces are then tooled and assembled. Next, each piece is fitted with a custom cover to create what’s called a fin. The covers themselves come from our cutting tables found within our fabric department. There could be as many as 50-100 pieces of fabric on one fin that must be sewn, and test fitted to each frame. Our team cuts, sews, and inspects each individual fin prior to packaging.  

This project has been in the making for the last three years and has included multiple vendors and partnerships upon completion. The artist behind ‘The Canyon‘ installation at the Salt Lake City Airport is Gordon Huether. Initially, Gordon was inspired by the way nature replaces itself and gradually changes over time. He was struck by the beauty behind canyons, following the concept that canyons evolve and change over millions of years, as rock slowly weakens and crumbles to create an entirely new structure. Gordon began drawing the framework, set it up to scale, and created a base model out of paper. Once the model was complete, our team at Rainier scanned his model structure to bring it through multiple layers of distilling and refinement. We took this model and turned it into a digital rendering. Rainier took on this project knowing that we have extraordinary capabilities within our warehouse, with the ability to manufacture, design, and install this piece of work.

The Cloud Fountain: Elk Grove Civic Center Display

The Cloud Fountain is a project conducted by Gordon Huether, the same artist that inspired The Canyon at the Salt Lake City Airport. In 2017, ‘The Cloud Fountain’ was selected by a review committee that consisted of Elk Grove Art Commissioners and city staff for the new Elk Grove Civic Center. Elk Grove, California proposed the idea to enhance their newly built aquatic center. The ‘Avenue of Arts’, consists of eight selected structures leading between the community center building and the aquatic center.

Gordon Huether decided to build this art piece keeping the fountains and splash pools of the aquatic center in mind. The overall design of the center inspired Gordon to explore the concept of water as it impacts the lives of those in the Elk Grove community. The Cloud Fountain is an abstract depiction of the properties that water emulates. Gordon said, “emerging from the ground like a surge of water, Cloud Fountain is a commanding yet seemingly weightless sculptural installation that will complement the civic center throughout the day and night.” Once it’s dark outside, the sculpture illuminates with multi-colored LEDs, creating a dramatic look for the community. Our team at Rainier Display partnered with Gordon on The Cloud Fountain project and assisted in creating the CNC precision-formed aluminum tubing for this installation. The Cloud Fountain is 24 feet tall and reaches 12-14 feet wide. The structure represents a rippling effect, thus creating a kinetic experience for pedestrians. The sculpture itself appears to be moving as pedestrians walk or drive by.

Our Tube Bending capabilities provide our clients with the opportunity to create breathtaking sculptures and artwork inspired by profound artists like Gordon Huether. Our team is proud to have had the opportunity to be involved in unique projects on a world-class scale.

If you have a project in mind and need our help, contact us at

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