Finding the right material for your job while staying within budget can be a challenge.
Roll forming offers a cost-effective solution for shaping certain materials, particularly those with complex bends or precise angles.
While many materials can be used for roll forming, it's important to note that only some materials are suitable for this process. When exploring alternatives to traditional sheet metal parts, keep in mind the various processes involved in sheet metal production, such as rolling, coating, and slitting.
While you may have your heart set on using certain materials, your roll forming partner will be able to guide you in finding the best material for your project or let you know if another metal forming process would work better.
Resource: Dual-source supply is a great way to lower your supply chain risk. A quality domestic second source supplier will help you make sure your work is done on time so you can keep moving forward with no major disruptions.
Good & Bad Materials For Roll Forming Sheet Metal Parts
You may be wondering, “Is my specified material OK to use for roll forming?”
If your project involves roll forming metal, there are lots of options.
- Galvanized and galvannealed steel
- Stainless steel
Prepainted Sheet Metal Could Save You Money
Many roll formed parts are painted or powder coated after they are shaped to protect the part or for aesthetics. However, you could save some money using prepainted or pre-coated metal. Having the metal painted or coated in advance means you won’t need a special painting or coating session for your parts. The roll forming process is gentle enough to not damage the paint or coating.
One drawback for projects where aesthetics are important: using prepainted or precoated metal means that edges and holes made during the roll forming process will not have paint, but will show the material’s original color.
DO YOU NEED SHEET METAL PARTS OR SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
Your project may call for using different source materials. While it’s possible to roll form materials other than what we previously listed, here are some rules to keep in mind:
1) Don’t Use Anything That Has Poor Ductility
This metal properties PDF chart provides a look at the ductility of common roll-formed materials.
Knowing material properties is crucial for making informed decisions and ensuring that your project meets quality standards. It not only helps you accurately estimate costs and plan production timelines, but also enables you to identify potential risks associated with the process. Armed with this information, you can create products that are both cost-effective and of high quality.
2) It Can’t Be Too Brittle; It’s Got to Be Malleable
Hard and brittle materials, such as cast metal or heat-treated metals, aren’t formable.
One material that is frequently specified but not suitable for roll forming is a heat-treated aluminum alloy called 6061. When specifying a T6 or T4 grade, the bendability of the metal is reduced, making it more prone to cracking during manufacturing. This is why metal extrusion is preferred for 6061-T6, as it allows for forming and heat treatment simultaneously, which is not possible with roll forming.
NON-METAL ATTEMPTS AT ROLL FORMING
When it comes to innovative roll forming techniques, someone has to take the first step. But what about non-metal materials? Can they be roll formed successfully? Let's explore some attempts we've come across:
Foam rubber, despite its softness, cannot hold its shape after being rolled. This makes it unsuitable for roll forming applications.
Plastics and polymers, on the other hand, can be rolled, but they are more commonly extruded. The risk of bending or breaking during the roll forming process makes these materials less desirable.
Roll forming cardboard is possible in certain cases, but caution must be exercised when specifying thickness. For instance, if the thickness exceeds ¼", it may pose challenges for your vendor's machinery.
SHEET METAL PARTS, OR NOT? HELPING YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT MATERIAL
To judge a metal or other material for roll forming, it is important to understand the roll forming process and the properties of the material. Metal roll forming companies consider various factors before making a final decision, including the:
- Mechanical properties
- Surface quality
- Uniform flatness tolerances
- End-use requirements
Reach Out With Roll Forming Questions
Let us know if you are currently facing challenges in choosing the right material or making design decisions related to converting to roll forming. We are here to help you fully utilize the cost-effectiveness and repeatability advantages of roll forming.
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in August 2018 and was recently updated.)
You need long, slender, L-shaped metal components for your project.
Several metal forming processes can achieve the desired result, such as stamping, press braking, or extrusion. A comparison that isn’t talked about enough? The differences between metal roll forming and angle iron.
While it's certainly niche, roll forming is still like any other metal manufacturing process. A little collaborative engineering and a lot of lean manufacturing practices equal mutual success.
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