Metal Stamping vs. Roll Forming: Key Factors to Consider

Metal stamping and roll forming are two methods of transforming large metal sheets into custom parts, with each process having its own benefits. Stamping, for example, takes full advantage of automation, and it’s easy to add techniques like in-die assembling to the process without increasing overall production time. Alternatively, roll forming allows manufacturers to add secondary processes like punching and trimming so the entire operation runs seamlessly. Whichever process you choose, your business will benefit from increased production and complex components.

What Is Metal Stamping?

Sheet metal stamping uses a series of dies and a press to cut and form sheet metal into desired shapes. It’s typically a cold-forming manufacturing process that produces complex designs at a rapid rate by forcing dies through a metal substrate, resulting in accurate and cost-effective components. This process is especially beneficial to companies that will repeatedly need high volumes of the same part.

What Is Roll Forming?

Roll forming uses machinery with multiple stations to continuously bend coiled sheet metal into complex shapes. Fixed rollers bend the material incrementally as it passes through each station, resulting in a perfectly shaped part for a specific application. There are many benefits to using this process, including speedy mass production, tight tolerances, part uniformity, and pleasing aesthetics.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Metal Stamping and Roll Forming

Both custom sheet metal stamping and roll forming are successful techniques, and each method is favorable for certain parts. Here are some factors to consider when choosing between the two methods:

  • Productivity and run times. Both roll forming and metal stamping have impressive production rates and opportunities for incorporating additional services into their operation, but sheet metal stamping companies have the upper hand on productivity. The automated metal stamping process can produce hundreds or even thousands of parts per hour, making it an efficient method for generating large quantities over a short period of time, even for complex shapes.
  • Production volumes. Both roll forming and custom sheet metal stamping are more efficient at producing high volumes of parts. In fact, the more parts the machinery manufactures at once, the less each will cost to produce.
  • Tolerance requirements. Roll forming bends sheet metal slowly, reducing the amount of pressure shaping the component at any given time. This results in very tight tolerances that metal stamping can’t achieve.
  • Shape. The incremental aspect of roll forming means you can create complex geometries that are specifically designed for your project. Metal stamping also creates uniquely shaped parts, but any changes to the design will require adjusting the stamping dies and roll form passes.
  • Dimensions. Roll forming can produce components of nearly all lengths with ease, impeded only by the length of the coiled source material. Alternatively, the sheet metal stamping process can only produce long parts if secondary processes are involved to connect shorter stamped workpieces into one, increasing both production times and costs.
  • Budget. Roll forming is often the more expensive method as it involves a bit more manual labor, but this depends on the volume and lengths you intend to produce. As the volume goes up, the cost per item decreases in both roll forming and sheet metal stamping.  As length increases roll forming becomes more advantageous due to machinery limits and increased speeds.
  • Secondary processes and finishings. A sheet metal stamping manufacturer can add secondary operations like in-die assembly to the overall process. Roll forming also allows for in-line operations, such as hole punching, trimming, and welding.
  • Aesthetics. Both processes can sometimes leave marks on cosmetic parts depending on the application and surface finish required.  Sometimes sheet metal stamping services leave tool marks and scratches on the surface of finished parts.  Roll forming, on the other hand, provides smooth finishes but can cause scratches or pressure marks depending on the section and tooling used.  Roll forming can cause one end of the part to flare outward. You can discuss these issues with your manufacturer to minimize concerns.
  • Maintenance and replacements. Since roll forming uses a continuous process and a single set of tools to generate parts, it requires less tool maintenance overall. Metal stamping will generally require more maintenance or part replacement, but this depends on the volume of parts that you’re manufacturing.

Metal Manufacturing at Premier Products of Racine

Precision sheet metal stamping and roll forming each have advantages and drawbacks for specific applications, but an experienced company can help you determine which technique will create the most accurate and cost-effective parts for your project. Premier Products of Racine, Inc. has been assisting clients with our custom roll forming, metal stamping, and other value-added services and products for over twenty years. If you’re looking for sheet metal stamping near you, or you’d like to request a quote for roll forming, contact our experts today!

Comments are closed