Roll Forming vs. Roll Bending

Roll forming and roll bending are metal forming processes that use rollers to achieve specific cross-sectional profiles. They have different operating principles and produce different effects. Here, we will explore both processes, including the benefits and applications of each.

What is Roll Forming?

In roll forming, a specialized machine holds a series of rollers that bend and shape strips of metal coil into a desired cross-sectional profile. Pairs of rollers sit above and below the material, feeding it through the machine and forming it at the same time.

Roll Forming Process

Roll forming uses relatively narrow, thin strips of metal called coil stock. As the coil travels through the rollers, pressure and counter pressure are applied, bending the material lengthwise. Each pair of rollers makes incremental changes to the coil until the final cross-sectional profile is achieved as the material exits the machine.

As a continuous manufacturing process, it is very efficient and consistent.

Benefits of Roll Forming

Roll forming benefits include:

  • Efficiency. Because the material used in roll forming is in coil form, the process can be completed at much higher speeds with lower manual involvement. As such, roll forming facilitates faster production of larger volumes.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Roll forming uses less material for the same number of parts than other methods. This efficiency means less waste, money, and time. A roll forming machine requires less frequent tooling replacement and can run up to 100 feet of coil or more per minute. For aluminum-based applications, roll forming can produce superior results to extrusion at a lower cost.
  • Design flexibility. Roll forming allows for simple or complex designs. It is versatile because roller height and force are easily adjusted to change the resulting bends and profiles. U-, V-, or C-shapes, closed, and round forms can be made with ferrous and non-ferrous metals, brass, and aluminum. Punching, notching, edge treatments, pre-notching, and secondary forming may also be incorporated into the operation.
  • Consistency and quality. Roll forming achieves tighter tolerances than processes like press braking or extrusion. It also produces consistent products across production runs.

Applications for Roll Forming

Roll forming is ideal for components with a consistent cross-sectional profile, or for creating lengths of stock material that will then be cut or trimmed to size, such as brackets or collars. Common applications include:

  • U-shaped steel channels
  • Home siding and rain gutters
  • Components of metal furniture
  • Computer enclosures
  • Metal fencing components
  • Window and door hardware
  • Structural channels

What is Roll Bending?

In roll bending, also called angle bending or plate rolling, a sheet of metal is placed between fixed rollers, which bend it to a desired angle or radius. Depending on the specifications, four-roller or vertical roller configurations may be used.

Roll Bending Process

In roll bending, a sheet or bar of metal is held stationary in a jig between a set of fixed rollers. The rollers are often configured triangularly with one above and two below the workpiece. The upper roller presses down and the bottom two apply counter pressure on each side of the downward force, deforming the workpiece into a U or V shape, depending on the amount of pressure and the diameter of the rollers.

Benefits of Roll Bending

Roll bending benefits include:

  • Versatility. Roll bending works with many types and thicknesses of metals, so it is used for a range of part types.
  • Efficiency. Roll bending is quick and can be automated for higher throughput.
  • Precision. Roll bending machines achieve large bend angles more easily than press brakes or rotary draw bending operations.
  • Minimal material waste. The bending process is carefully controlled, highly precise, and less prone to scrap and rework.

Applications for Roll Bending

Roll bending is commonly used for manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and other industrial applications, such as:

  • Large and small diameter pipes
  • Pressure vessels
  • Storage tanks
  • Exhaust pipes
  • Vehicle chassis and frame components
  • Fuel line components
  • Aircraft fuselage and wing spars

Roll Forming and Bending at Premier Products of Racine

The team at Premier Products of Racine has decades of experience and knowledge of how to roll metal for custom components. Whether it’s roll forming or bending, we have you covered. Additional capabilities include fabrication, custom stamping, projection welding, assembly, and finishing.

Contact us about your next metal fabrication project or request a quote today!

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