You’ve got a project involving a slender, linear metal part in medium to high volume. You’ve also got options for how you complete it, one of those being metal roll forming services.
Indeed, roll forming is far from the only game in town.
Today, there are four main metal-forming techniques used in the manufacturing industry for parts like these:
- Roll forming
- Press Braking
Guess which metal-forming method we think is best for you? (Hint: It’s in our name.)
Why should you feel this way, too? Let’s count the ways.
What is Metal Roll Forming?
Roll forming is a metalworking process that uses contoured tools to bend flat sheets from coiled steel into a finished, uniform profile.
Engineers and architects request roll forming when they require a bend -- sometimes multiple bends -- of a metal channel, angle, or complex shape.
Manufacturers can roll form before, during, or after other fabricating steps. The process is repeatable over long runs.
Roll Forming Cost
Tooling for roll forming can get expensive, but long-term use will eventually net you cheaper labor costs per piece. Besides, if you buy intelligently, the “roll forming tools are too expensive” argument evaporates into myth.
If you can weather the tooling costs, you’ll open opportunities for:
- Higher-volume orders (better cost efficiency)
- Larger runs (see above!)
- Expanded in-line fabrication (lowering labor costs)
A roll forming crew feeds material via coiled steel, reducing material handling and equipment run-time costs. There’s less wear and tear on the tools. Scrap waste simply ceases to exist.
Meanwhile, certain other manufacturing processes (say, press braking) require separate processes for punching, perforating, or notching, adding labor and other costs.
Roll Forming Capabilities
This flexible roll-forming process allows you to add tooling to create any shape, no matter how complex the cross section profile is. (The ideal use is for long, slender shapes.)
Because the material is coiled and fed through, there are no limits on length. Roll forming also allows the shaping of metals already painted, plated, or coated.
Material-based limits to roll forming are also nearly nonexistent, unlike extrusion. The process works with:
- Carbon steel
- Perforated metal
- Prepainted coil steel
- Even some non-metal materials!
That wide variety of material can turn into specially shaped roll formed parts. Get ready for:
- Graceful curves
- Awesome arcing
- Even spirals of a helix!
OK, just one more list of capabilities. Custom roll forming also allows for the in-line addition of:
Roll Forming Quality
Perhaps one of the more striking advantages of roll forming services is it produces parts that are more consistently uniform across runs.
It might surprise you to see how precise roll forming can be. Roll forming machines can easily form high-strength steels while accommodating for springback. Even extremely tight tolerances are no match for roll forming.
We haven’t forgotten about those of you more worried about looks -- roll forming creates an attractive finish. It’s great for aesthetic projects where tool marks from other types of forming are not an option.
Roll with the Right Manufacturer
If you need a way to carry out your project -- especially if it’s a medium-to-high-volume one -- roll forming is almost always the answer.
What’s even better than metal roll forming? A great roll forming vendor. Just one example of many: If your manufacturer also aids in part design, it may be able to cut tooling costs by optimizing the part for roll forming.
So now that you know what roll forming brings to the table, it’s time to start considering what a comprehensive partnership can do for you.
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in September 2017 and was recently updated.)
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