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It is the followers. I have 1.75 od die set and have run nothing but 1020 x .120 wall on it and wd40 as the lubricant. I haven't had to replace the followers yet (after 4 cages). I check them regularly and clean out any imperfections with file and emory cloth.

Pipe is a problem (ie, schedule 40), My friend has a pipe die set and he is replacing the followers regularly. He's using axle lube now which seems to help. Make sure the follower are install the right direction, backwards followers will be ruin in one bend (personal experience with my friends pipe die).

There is several threads that discuss this in length. Several people reported that the pro-tool dies are better. I have no first had experience with this though. I think if I had it to over again I would buy the protools heavy duty bender.
 
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