Roll forming is a fast and efficient method of metal component manufacturing. Converting sheets or coils of metal into almost any desired shape, this technique is utilized in many industries where metal products are required in medium to high volume. Vastly reducing labor costs and increasing productivity, roll forming is an integral process in construction, automotive and industrial manufacturing.
The basic aspects of roll forming are the use of base metal materials, rollers and entry and cutoff points. Typically working with cold or hot-rolled steel, stainless steel, aluminum and similarly ductile materials, the base materials of roll forming are relatively inexpensive.
Base materials are fed into the entry point as flat strips or coils of metal, where they may initially be punched with holes or grooves, if required. The metal is then fed through a series of upper and lower rollers, designed specifically to bend the metal sheets into a desired shape. Once having passed through all the rolls, the metal is guided through a cutoff point and cut to the desired length. Finished products can have endlessly complex designs, or be incredibly simple, and the type and number of rollers required will be tailored as needed.
Roll forming, along with most other industrial processes, has been vastly improved by technology and computer integration. Technicians utilize CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software throughout much of today’s rolling processes. After determining the project specifics, design programs are implemented to construct the tooling required to produce the end result with minimal scrap and energy. The precise shapes and ordering of the rolls used in the process are determined using computer simulations, making the process completely efficient and pinpoint accurate.
Additionally, technological advances in robotics have led to post-production advances in roll forming. Though many materials require no welding or similar post-production actions, manufacturers have robotic welding technology at their disposal today, as well as other advanced forms of finishing that may be required. As with the overall technique itself, the integration of technology into these processes has significantly lowered labor costs and energy use, which has resulted in improved pricing of the rolling process and the finished products produced.
Roll forming is a method that has been used in mass manufacturing of metal components for years. The process is relatively inexpensive and has many applications across multiple industries. With advances in technology have come steps forward in this important industry, the design of its products and processes and the ability to perform post-production tasks with the same efficiency and speed as the basic rolling technique itself.