What Is Roll Forming?

What Is Roll Forming

Roll forming is the result of rolling a long strip of metal sheet or typically in a form of a coil. It uses a roll-forming machine that bends the metal in a continuous process to come up with a uniform shape.

The metal strip undergoes a series of rolls attached on several stands. Each roll set performs in a step-by-step bending process until the desired shape is achieved. The roll forming machine is capable of producing various sizes and thickness of the desired shapes.

The size variations are obtainable by creating the distances for each roll variable using computerized or manual operating system.

Roll Forming Process

The process of roll forming is simple by starting with a large strip or sheet metal coil with a width of 1 to 20 inches and thickness from 0.10 mm to 3.2 mm with uncoiler support.

The metal strip is placed in the machine via an entry guide ensuring proper alignment while it passes through the mill rolls. Each roll set forms a bend in a continuous process to ensure that the strip has achieved its desired form.

These sets of rolls are attached to horizontal parallel shafts on top of each other to a stand support. The roll-formed strip is ready for cutting to length.

Advantages Of The Roll Forming

Roll-formed metal sections are lightweight compared to extrusion processes that bear similar forms. The formed metal strips have thinner and stronger walls as they underwent cold state hardening.

The process is fast and takes less effort compared to extrusion. It is perfect for medium to large orders of more than 10,000 composed of repeatable designs and orders. Roll forming can perform various features in metal channel design involving notches, bends, holes, embossing, stamping, labels and knockouts.

In-line fabrication is also allowed in roll-forming. The gradual sequence in the roll forming process produces eye-catching finish and extra tolerance against wear and tear.

What Products Are Roll-Formed?

There are two types of metals that can be processed into rolled forming, namely: ferrous and non-ferrous metals.  Ferrous metals refer to a metal that is composed of bivalent iron compound, such as steel, carbon, stainless steel, and galvannealed.

Non-ferrous metals refer to metals that do not have iron compound in their chemical makeup. Examples of non-ferrous metals are aluminum, copper, brass, lead, and composites.

Composites refer to materials that are made out of two or more materials with physical or chemical differences. Lead is commonly used in most types of building materials like gutters, flashing, gutter joints, and roofing metal.


Forging Vs. Roll Forming

Forging uses very hot forming to manipulate the shape and size of a metal sheet or strip. Roll forming uses cold forming technology to form the intended shape of the coiled metal strip.

There is no heat involved in the roll forming instead it uses mechanical deformation using a roll forming machine. Forging manipulates the metal work pieces by using pressurized blows to obtain the intended shape.

Forging process results in extremely hot temperatures for extrusion and rolling the molten steel. The process involves hammering, rolling and pressing until the form is finally achieved. This method is ideal for attaining customized shapes that cold rolling cannot do.

Extrusion Vs. Roll Forming

High volume orders make use of roll forming instead of extrusion as the process is faster and uses a minimal amount of materials. It is cost-saving for large orders. The disadvantage of roll forming is the setup of the die is tedious, which can be costly for small orders.

Extrusion process uses a single metal that is easy to fabricate by using a cylindrical billet placed in a closed cavity. The metal is pushed through a mold of the desired shape or cross-section.

The extruded metal parts are placed in the oven to undergo an additional aging process before the secondary processes is implemented. Extrusion is suitable for low-volume orders that require single bends.

Casting Vs. Roll Forming

Roll forming uses a strip of coiled metal that passes through a rolling machine to produce uniform metal shapes. This process is ideal for high-volume batches that require uniform sizes and shapes for large orders.

Casting is ideal for low-volume batches for small orders. It requires heating the liquid metal until melted. The melted metal is then poured into a container or mold to form the desired shapes.

The mold contains a negative impression of the desired shape until it cools down and gently extracted to produce the formed metal. Casting produces high porosity, but it depends on its application.

What Are The Applications For Roll-Forming?

Roll-formed materials are used in transportation and automotive industries. Examples are reinforcement bars, bumpers, window tracks, vehicle parts, and structural components of cars, trucks, trailers, and ships.

These materials are also used for residential and commercial buildings for elevators, downspouts, slatted wall dividers, trusses, and studs. Highway signs, guardrails and bridge deck reinforcements, helicopter blades, honeycomb seals, and backing rings are made of roll-formed metal strips.

Garden and lawn equipment, farm implements, fence posts, grain bin floors are made of these materials. Other uses of roll-formed materials are HVAC, home appliances, office furniture, solar panel components, refrigerator parts, modular partitions, shelving, and display racks.

What Are The Types Of Roll Forming Processes?

Roll forming comes in various types of processes. It all depends on the forming manufacturing on what method they employ in creating their unique shapes for their metal products. It also depends on the application for the roll-formed products, such as siding, roofing, and tubing.

Among the types of roll forming processes include ring rolling, shape rolling, roll bending, and plate rolling, and flat rolling. Each type uses different types of machines for rolling metals, but the process follows the fundamental steps to create uniform sizes and shapes of roll-formed materials.

Stud and track, angle, beam, seamless, and wrap are some versions of roll forming machines for various applications.

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