Roll forming is a high-productivity technology for producing continuous section metal profiles. For producing metal profiles, one technology that can be used for the bending operation is the press brake, for example.
In the roll-forming process, bends are created in the metal with a series of rolls assembled on motorized shafts.These rolls print the desired shape on sheet metal smoothly and in a series of steps (passages).
Passes usually range from 4 to more than 60 for the most complex profiles.
In roll forming, the production speed depends on the rotation speed of the rollers and can range from 10 to more than 300 meters per minute. This extraordinary productivity is unattainable by any other bending process. The roll-forming process can be used on hot or warm steel or on cold materials, which is the most common, and we will focus on this specific case.
The roll-forming process
A good roll-forming process starts with a good profile and roll design. To create a good roll design, the designer must define the necessary steps to achieve the desired cross-section.
In each step, the metal strip progressively reaches the shape of the final section: when we superimpose all the steps, we obtain what is called the “flower pattern” – in fact, in most cases, the pattern is reminiscent of a beautiful flower!
Then, the flower pattern is used to design the individual rolls for all roll-forming steps, including peripheral and motorized rolls that may be needed for complex shapes or materials. The rolls are then assembled on the roll-forming machine and fed with one or more motors, depending on the type of machine.
The metal strip is fed in the first stages and bent progressively through the machine: at the end, the profile is cut employing a cutting tool or a saw. The technology depends on the cross-section we want to create and the function of the final shape.
The profiling process is suitable for processing the most different materials, ferrous and non-ferrous metals: steel, aluminum, stainless steel, galvanized steel, pre-painted and coated steel, and aluminum, copper, lead, titanium, etc. The only limit is the formability of the sheet, and the elastic recovery of each type of material and the minimum bending radius must be taken into account.
There is more: the rolling process can be integrated with different technologies such as punching, laser cutting, and bending.
The punching operation, in particular, can be placed before or after roll forming.
Each solution has specific advantages and depends on the shape of the section and the desired result.
When the roll forming machine is linked to other devices, it is called Roll Forming Line, where the material goes directly from the coil to the finished product and, in many cases, can be packaged and delivered directly to the final storage.
Advantages of the roll-forming process
There are a variety of advantages to roll-forming. Due to the roll forming “assembly line” efficiency, large quantities of metal can be produced and cut, reducing costs. Secondary processes, such as punching or welding, can be integrated into a single production line. The profiles of rolled steel sheets are similar to those of extruded aluminum.
The roll-forming process facilitates the creation of lighter steel parts compared to other roll-forming methods, as the wall thickness can be oriented according to the structural needs of the component. Pieces can be rolled even if a finish or paint has been applied. While hot forming can produce equally complex profiles, roll forming is an ambient temperature process. As such, it avoids the risk of distortion associated with hot forming and, at the same time, is more energy efficient.
With all these benefits, it is not surprising that roll forming has applications in many industries, including automotive, appliance, construction, agriculture, solar, and shelving.
Now that you know more about roll-formers and profile bending machines, it will be much easier to choose the right one for your industry according to your needs and product specifications. We encourage you to contact our consultants, who can help you choose the right machinery for your steel pipe production industry. We are ready to assist you. Click here to see more information about our machinery, and click here to contact us.