What is Roll Forming? (What is its Process for Sheet Metal?)

Roll forming sheet metal

What is Roll Forming?
Roll forming is a sheet metal forming process which is used to shape a sheet metal by progressively passing it through a series of bending operations.

In roll forming process, the flat cooled sheet is passed through the multiple roller dies which causes the bending of the flat sheet into a desired shape.

For sheet metal, the roll forming process is widely used in manufacturing of longer length parts having constant cross section.

Roll forming process

Roll forming

In sheet metal roll forming process, the stock of flat sheet metal is fed through a series of roll stations. This series of roll forming line is called roll forming line.

In the above image, you can see that the roll forming line contains two or more rollers at each roll station.

The rollers present at each roll station have different sizes and shapes as per the requirements.

The rollers present at each station are also known as roller die and they are placed above and below the sheet as well as along the sides and at angles too.

When the sheet metal is fed through the rollers, it gets plastically deformed and its bending takes place according to the shape of roller dies.

Only the partial deformation of the sheet metal takes place at each roll station (see above image).

In order to reduce the friction between sheet metal and the roller dies, various lubricants are applied between the contact of roller dies and sheet metal.

Lubricants also aid in higher production rate of the components, and the production rate also depends on the material thickness, number of roll stations, as well as amount of forming done at each roll station.

There are various press working operations that can be performed before and after the roll forming process.

For example, punching, piercing, shearing, nibbling, etc can be performed before the roll forming operation.

By using a roll forming process, various shapes can be formed by using a variety of rollers.

Not only open profiles, but the closed tube-like profiles can also be created by using roll forming.

During the roll forming of metals, the cross section of the material changes at every roll passing and in this way, the final formed component is obtained.

Applications of roll forming

The applications of roll forming are mentioned below.

  • Roll forming process is applicable for manufacturing of long sheet metal parts having width of 1 inch to 20 inch and thickness of 0.004 inches to 0.125 inches.
  • By roll forming, the wider sheets (upto 5 feet) can also be roll formed.
  • Roll forming is used to manufacture components with very high accuracy (having close tolerance of around ±0.005 inches).
  • The roll formed examples include panels, tracks, shelving, etc.
  • Rolled forming parts are mainly used in industrial and commercial buildings for roofing purposes.
  • It is also used for manufacturing storage units as well as in HVAC applications.

External links:
Roll forming: Image by Laurens van Lieshout, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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