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What is roll forming?

Roll forming is a high-speed method of bending coiled metal into a custom designed metal shape by passing a metal strip through a series of roll dies. The process produces a metal profile with a uniform cross section along its entire length.

How does roll forming work?

The metal, which starts out flat, is fed from a coil into a linear configuration of roll die stations or passes. At each pass the metal is progressively bent until the final profile emerges. Each roll die pass is comprised of two forming dies — top and bottom — which are designed to create a particular shape or profile. As the metal profile passes through each set of dies, it is incrementally bent, the amount of the bend carefully engineered to preserve the integrity of the profile. The design of the profile begins with a flower pattern which illustrates the number of bending passes and the degrees of bend at each pass.

What are the advantages of roll forming?

The advantages of roll forming are speed, economy of scale, the ability to incorporate secondary operations such as punching and notching in-line, the ability to form complex shapes that can not be brake formed, and the ability to produce extra long shapes that can not fit into a brake press.

What are the disadvantages of roll forming?

Generally speaking, there is only one disadvantage to roll forming. The process does not lend itself well to small quantity production runs.

What are the alternatives to roll forming?

The two significant alternatives to roll forming are brake forming and progressive dies.

What are the geometric possibilities of roll forming?

There are an almost unlimited number of shapes that the roll forming process can produce. In fact, the range of possibilities is greater than brake forming.

Where are roll forming products most often used?

Roll forming is often used to create vinyl reinforcements, metal furniture components, door and window hardware, cable guards, metal fencing, drawer slides, and custom component parts. Admittedly, that is a very truncated list as roll forming is used pretty much everywhere.