History of Roll Forming

Manufacturers use roll forming to create a wide variety of precision parts efficiently, rapidly, and in high volumes. The process is a simple one, but where did it get its start? Read on to learn more about what roll forming is and the history behind it, giving some insight into how this manufacturing method has changed over the years and why it’s still so popular today.

What Is Roll Forming?

Roll forming is a manufacturing technique that utilizes a metal forming process known as rolling to produce high-quality metal parts.

Roll forming, uses the rolling process to bend sheet metal into different profiles, feeding a long sheet or strip of metal through several sets of roll pairs along a line of consecutively arranged stands. As the metal passes through each pair of rolls, they gradually form the material to achieve the desired shape by the time it reaches the end of the production line. Roll forming is an optimal fabrication method for manufacturing high volumes of long metal parts requiring uniform thickness and form.

History of Roll Forming

The origins of roll forming began centuries ago, with various iterations developing over time. The oldest verified use of a simplified version of the roll forming process was in South Asia and the Middle East around 600 BCE. At that time, rather than using hammers as was the conventional method of the day, people began developing what we’ve come to know as a rolling mill.

Over time, this mill design experienced advancements throughout Europe so that it more closely resembled the roll forming technology we have today. Inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci, born in 1452, first designed what we refer to as slitting mills. These mills work by moving flat metal bars in between rolls, resulting in an iron plate that travels through grooved rolls until the iron eventually becomes rods.

Next, hot rolling came into use, with the first tandem mills attributed to Richard Ford and Thomas Blockley, who patented their designs in the mid-1700s in England. The various rolling techniques have advanced from there through the innovations of inventors across the world, giving us today’s iteration of roll forming.

Modern roll forming uses highly efficient equipment that forms metal sheets into the desired end product with high accuracy and uniformity. While production speed and throughput have vastly improved, certain factors like a metal’s bend rate and thickness will affect fabrication rates.

The contemporary developments in roll form industries have made this method a popular option for diverse industries, ranging from office furniture and cubicle systems to telecommunications and healthcare. To give a few examples, the appliance industry frequently relies on roll forming to create the outer panels for refrigerators, and the solar energy sector uses roll formed solar panel frames and mounting systems.

The simplicity of this fabrication method combined with its fast production rates allow manufacturers to produce all types of roll formed parts and components with optimal efficiency and cost-effectiveness, which is why it remains such a popular manufacturing process today.

Roll Forming Services From Premier Products of Racine

At Premier Products of Racine, Inc., we use the latest innovations in roll forming technology and our nine roll forming mills to provide clients with the best achievable results for every project. Our team produces custom roll formed parts with tight cross-sectional tolerances of ±0.003 inches in virtually any length, with a width maximum of 20 inches. In addition, we can generate custom products through:

  • Metal stamping
  • Sheet metal fabrication
  • Assembly
  • Projection welding
  • Finishing services

Interested in learning more about how our roll forming services and other capabilities can support your next project? Contact us to speak with a member of our team, or request a quote today.

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