Quality Makes Us Global

Roll Forming at Global Forming

An incredible variety of metal parts and components can be manufactured from flat sheet metal, mostly steel, with the roll forming process and automation. Depending on the final shape and profile needed, multiple sets of consecutive rollers each bend the metal strip in some incremental way toward the final result. A variety of other metalworking operations can be incorporated at various points along the roll forming production line.

Factory roll mill machine
factory with roll mill machines

Flexibility in State-of-the Art Roll Forming Capabilities

close up of roll mill machinery
Seven roll forming lines at Global Forming range in capacity width from 1.5-inches to 2.5-inches of coiled sheet metal. The length of the final piece can be cut off at the beginning of the line before roll forming begins, or at the end of the line after roll forming is complete. Among the other metalworking secondary operations that can be incorporated into the roll forming line at whatever point makes the most sense (pre-forming, mid-forming, post-forming) include punching features into the piece such as a hole, notch, embossment, or shear. In this sense, flexibility is the name of the game in roll forming.
The Roll Forming Process for Making Metal Parts and Components

Common sheet metal thicknesses or gauges that can be handled by roll forming machines range from 0.004–1.25 inches (0.1015 to 31.75mm) thick. The sheet metal typically arrives at the roll forming mill in large coils. One end of the coil is fed through an entry guide on the roll forming line to ensure optimal alignment of the material as it approaches the first set of rolls. The entire process takes place at room temperature (cold-forming), so it’s not as energy-intensive as hot-forming processes.

How Roll Forming Compares to Other Metal Manufacturing Processes

There are many benefits to roll forming as a metalworking manufacturing process relative to other techniques, as described below:

Extrusion as a manufacturing process is great for softer metals such as aluminum, tin, copper, magnesium, zinc, and softer low carbon steels. High carbon steel, titanium, and harder alloys are less amenable to extrusion, which is why roll forming is often a better choice to achieve the desired profile. Extrusion is also limited in how thin the final profile can be. Roll forming works well on a wider range of metals (especially harder metals) and thinner profiles, which can save money on material costs. Extruded profiles in aluminum often need to go through an aging process to ensure stability, which adds a significant amount of time to the production process. Roll formed metal profiles do not require any aging.

Press braking is another common metal manufacturing process, but roll forming tends to edge out press braking in terms of higher volume production runs, faster and more efficient production, and is more flexible in terms of cut-to-length flexibility (varying lengths of the same profile are easy to accommodate by adjusting when the cutoff takes place). Press braking is far more limited in material size, thickness, and bend length by the width of the press brake relative to roll forming. Roll forming is also able to achieve higher length and hole tolerances, better part consistency, and results in fewer visual marks from tooling, which means better finishes.
Some of the same advantages mentioned above also apply when comparing roll forming to stamping. A stamping press can’t produce the same profile in multiple lengths without additional tooling the way roll forming can. Producing longer parts is easy with roll forming, but a stamping press can’t be easily adapted without major retooling to change lengths. Stamping is also more prone to springback and deformities than roll forming. It’s also much easier to integrate various secondary operations to add features to a part in the roll forming line than stamping.

Relative to other metal manufacturing processes, roll forming often represents more streamlined production and lower overall costs while achieving precision processing to very tight tolerances with superior part uniformity and better surface finishes.

Tooling for Roll Forming Dies
The roles of the roll forming metal fabrication process are dies that must have custom tools to produce the desired profile of the final part or component. Complex geometric profiles can be accomplished in roll forming, but the more complex the profile, the more consecutive bends are needed, which means more sets of rollers to achieve so many different bending points.

While this means a significant up-front investment in tooling costs for any given profile, once the roll dies are tooled, they experience very little wear during use and will facilitate high-volume production runs for years at a time, even if the length of the final part needs to be changed, which is easy to accomplish through adjusting the cut off function.

At Global Forming, we’ll take your designs for roller dies and have the expert tooling staff we work with review them to ensure manufacturability before tooling begins. We’ll manage the entire tooling process for you to ensure superior tooling results for your projects roller dies.

Applications of Roll Forming Metal Manufacturing
Roll forming is a go-to metal fabrication process for the automotive industry. It can be used to produce a wide range of metal parts and components that go into a vehicle, including door components such as window channel guides, vehicle sunroof components such as metal rails, front and rear headers, roof bows, front and rear bumper components, and all kinds of structural beams and braces.

Roll forming can be used for building exit devices such as push bars on doors (also called crash bars and panic bars). Many of the metal components for HVAC parts and assemblies can be produced by roll forming, such as the metal frame that holds a filter material in place. Given the flexibility and versatility of roll forming, there are many more industries that make use of roll formed metal parts and components, including aerospace, appliances, construction, energy, solar, tube and pipe, and many more.

We look forward to hearing from you through the contact us page of our website, by phone at 317.290.1000, or by email to rfox@globalforming.us to discuss whether our roll forming services are the right fit for your project.