What is Metal Roll Forming?

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What is Metal Roll Forming? Uses, Types, Parts, & Definitions

What is Metal Roll forming? It might not be as simple as you may think; machines can come in a variety of sizes, product outputs, uses, speeds, and more. Before you buy, make sure you’re educated on the background and importance of metal roll forming in today’s industry. Whether you notice it or not, products made using the process of metal rollforming are everywhere. Items could include something as visible as metal roofing or garage doors, or products working behind the scenes, like pipes, window frames, and countless others. However, how much do you know about the equipment used in metal rollforming and everything it can produce?

In this article, we will try to explain: “What is metal roll forming?”, “The importance of metal roll forming”, “Common rollforming machines and products”, “Common parts of a roll former” and “What is Metal Rollforming?”.

What is Roll Forming?

So, what exactly is metal rollforming? We’re glad you asked. Roll forming is the process of feeding metal, whether it’s finished, coiled, flat, or otherwise, through a series of rollers where each roller station further manipulates the piece of metal into the desired shape.

One of the earliest known designs of a more modern rollformer is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in a 1480 sketch of a “rolling mill” depicting a material passing through cylindrical rollers to be flattened. The first actual industrial rollforming/metal working plant on record launched in the early 1600s in the United Kingdom. After its inception, metal rollforming has experienced considerable growth and expansion over the years, which has led to an increase in the demand and use as well. Plus, with new computers and technological advances developed every single day, it’s expected that metal fabrication and rollforming will continue to grow and adapt to consumers’ needs in the years ahead.

The Importance of Roll forming Equipment

To get a better idea of the importance of roll forming equipment and machinery, think about what the workforce would be doing if metal rollforming machinery didn’t exist. Instead of machines producing and rolling thousands of pounds of metal per day, humans would have to put forth significant extra labor using press brakes, folders, and other equipment to make metal products. Not only does this increase manual labor, but it would also severely decrease productivity and output of products. It would also limit any long-length or complicated rolling processes, such as curving and larger indentations in the metal, as it would be tough and time-consuming to do these methods by hand.

Common Rollforming Machine Types & Products

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of rollforming equipment and machines used for metal fabrication all around the world. Some machines are mass produced for businesses and consumers to purchase, while others are very specialized and niche to a specific product or function. However, there are some commonplace machines making everyday items/products that we might not even notice. Let’s discuss some typical examples of metal rollforming machines and the types of products each one produces.

Coil and Sheet Processing Rollformer Products include:

  • Cut-to-length light and heavy gauge coil and sheets
  • Metal roofing and wall system panels
  • Standing seam
  • Corrugated
  • Tile
  • Shake
  • Shingles
  • Gutters
  • Downspouts

Automotive Components Rollforming Equipment Products include:

  • Bumpers
  • Safety doors
  • Framing parts for cars and trucks
  • Drip rails

Flooring Structural Framing Rollforming Machinery Products include:

  • Purlins
  • Door framing
  • Window framing
  • Roof trusses

Flooring Tube & Pipe Mills/Rollforming Products include:

  • Mechanical tubing
  • Structural tubing
  • Automotive tubing
  • Energy pipes
  • Standard pipes

Other Rollforming Equipment for Miscellaneous Parts Products include:

  • Garage doors
  • Metal scaffolding
  • Industrial and commercial shelving units
  • Lockers
  • Elevator walls and components
  • Silos (agricultural)
  • Chimneys
  • Railings and guard rails
  • Fencing parts
  • Appliance parts
  • Air ducts and venting products
  • Solar panel components

Structure of Roll Forming Lines

Forming rollers and forming stations are the individual components that the metal passes through to bend or form a desired shape. Forming rollers are put together in a progressive series to complete a process used to form the end product. Most rollers are made of hard-chromed steel or stainless steel. For some machines, the forming rollers are also the drive rollers. Drive rollers – Drive rollers are used to move the metal through the machine. Some rollformers incorporate the forming and driving rollers into one, while others keep the drive and forming functions separate. Separating the two results in less stress on the metal and reduces the possibility of oil canning. Drive rollers are typically made of metal or polyurethane.

Forming stations

Forming stations refer to the spots at which the metal is bent or manipulated by a pair of forming rollers. In fact, the more forming stations there are in a machine, the higher the quality of the finished product because a gradual forming reduces stresses inflicted on the material. For example, having more forming stations in a metal roofing rollforming machine helps minimize the possibility of oil canning.

Shear or guillotine – If the metal needs cut in any way, shape, or form in the rollforming machine, it features a shear, sometimes called a guillotine, to cut the metal part or component at a specified length. Shears are very common with metal coil and sheet processing rollformers.

Additionally, rollformers with shears are categorized into two different cuts:

Post-cut shear – The metal part is formed first in the forming stations and cut AFTERWARD. One benefit of cutting after forming is complete is there are no length restrictions. Products can be cut as small as one foot long or shorter without any issues.

Pre-cut shear – The metal is cut BEFORE it goes through the forming stations at the entry of the machine. Conversely to post-cut, there are short length restrictions on pre-cut machine shears. However, pre-cut offers a cleaner cut to the flat or un-rolled metal.

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