What Is Roll Forming?

What Is Roll Forming

Metal roll forming is a high production process of forming shaped metal parts from coiled strips or sheet metal stock by feeding the materials through a roll forming mill. Roll forming equipment bends metal at room temperature using several sets of fixed rollers. The rollers guide the metal while making the required bends. Consecutive sets of rollers help shape the metal sequentially until it reaches the desired cross-section. As a manufacturing process, roll forming is a cost-effective method for shaping metal into custom-designed profiles. Roll-formed products are found in every industry. 

Types of Roll Forming Machines

Roll forming involves the use of several machines and tools. The mainstay of a roll forming shop is the mill. There are several roll forming line machines and configurations

Cantilevered Mills

Sometimes called overhanging or stub-type, cantilevered mills support the metal shaft at only one end, making it possible to form edges on sheet metal of any width. Another advantage of this type of cantilevered mill roll forming line is that it is more cost-effective. 

Duplex Mills

Two cantilevered mills that face each other and share a common base are called a duplex mill. A duplex mill may have one fixed and one adjustable side or two adjustable sides. The design of a duplex mill makes it possible to form both edges on sheets of various widths. To avoid buckling, it’s useful to have a central support. 

Conventional Mills

Unlike a cantilevered mill, a standard or conventional mill supports shafts at both ends. The design works with materials at various thicknesses and heavier gauge sheets.

Through-Shaft Duplex Mills

By combining elements of the conventional mill with a duplex roll mill, you have a through-shaft duplex roll forming mill. 

Custom Roll Forming Techniques

To improve the metal’s design, structure, strength, or function, special techniques may be used on the metal during the roll forming process. The metal may be punched, mitered, notched, meshed, and edge rolled. 

Some examples of roll forming edge treatments include:

Hemming: This is a technique used to create a softer edge so that parts are easier to handle. It may also add strength or stiffness to the final product.

Beading: Also called grooving or pinching, beading helps create sharper corners in heavier gauge material. In metalwork, a sheet metal gauge (sometimes spelled “gage”) is the measurement of the thickness of the sheet metal material.

Tear-dropping: This technique creates a rounder outer edge. This makes the finished shape smoother to improve handling and adds an attractive design element.

Ribbing or ridging: This is an effective technique to create a more rigid surface.

Embossing: This method uses a concave and a convex die to draw the metal in deeply for a smooth burr-free edge.

Best Roll-Formed Metals

Your architectural project should start with the best base materials. If you miss the mark here, you may be left with an expensive product lacking in function, strength, durability, or aesthetics. An experienced roll forming company like the team at Alpine Sheet Metal Systems will work with you to determine the best metals to suit your intended use and fit your budget. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Carbon fiber
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Bronze

Roll Forming Advantages

Roll forming has the advantage of being able to feed two different materials, one on top of the other, to form a single product. In this way, desirable properties, such as ductility, corrosion protection, tensile strength, and superior roll forming finish, can be more easily attained while keeping costs low. Most metals can be roll-formed, including anodized, pre-painted, and plated materials. According to some sources, thicknesses ranging from 0.005″ to 0.188″ (in strip form) can be fabricated into desired configurations. Finally, the roll forming process creates high-quality products, and it produces consistent tolerances on both light and heavy gauge material, also holding shapes and dimensions consistently. The final products have an excellent finish with no die marks, even on pre-coated or anodized materials.

Why Choose Alpine Sheet Metal Systems for Roll Forming?

Our mission is to combine old-world craftsmanship with innovative technology. We start with high-quality materials, master metalworkers, fabricators, and installers, a team trained in project management, computer product design, and project-based accounting. Serving the Dallas MetroPlex and beyond for over 20 years, we’ve made metal our business. Alpine Sheet Metal Systems fabricates custom panels in our metal shop and onsite. If you’re looking for custom architectural roll-formed metal panels of any length or shape, contact the team at Alpine Sheet Metal Systems or give us a call at [phone].

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About Jeff Folsom

Jeff Folsom is the founder and president of Alpine Sheet Metal Systems, a key player in North Texas’s commercial construction sector, specializing in roofing and architectural design. He also leads Alpine Roofing Construction and Alpine Thermal Imaging Systems, expanding his influence across the U.S. Residing in Dallas, Jeff enjoys travel, auto racing, and boating in his free time.

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