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What Is Roll Forming?

Roll forming is a continuous process whereby a coil of flat metal (often steel, aluminum, copper or stainless steel) passes through a series of rolls. Each set of rolls performs incremental parts of the bend and eventually forms into a cross-section, also known as a profile.

The Forming Process

During the forming process the metal coil is loaded onto a machine called the uncoiler the metal is then stabilized using a loop control stand (or flattener) before passing through a press feed unit. Once it leaves the press it enters a rolling mill. A rolling mill is set up using dedicated rolls, which is specially designed for tight tolerance while running at high speed. The chosen material slowly bends from a flat coil into progressive cross-sections over a series of station to achieve a profile. The unique aspect of this approach is the use of consecutive forming stations, each of which nudges the metal towards the desired shape.

In conventional break forming cross sections are fabricated one part at a time and often requires the operator to perform multiple steps. Break forming is limited to how complex the shape can be whereas roll forming is designed with complexity in mind. Roll forming can be controlled and adjusted according to the material properties and because of this advantage the tolerance is often held tighter.  With roll formed parts, only a small amount of forming strain is placed onto the part at each roll station. The more advanced the desired shape, the more roller stations the material will pass through. Roll form lines can range in size, gear ratio and capabilities. Expert roll forming engineers will determine what line is best suited for most accurate forming of a specific profile and material.  In addition to roll forming a cross section, all roll forming line can add specialized equipment to incorporate features such as laser welding, pre punch holes, cut to length, end notching, embossing, traceability printing and many other customer specific features.

Advantages of Roll Forming

There are a variety of advantages to roll forming. Because the roll forming process is done inline there is tremendous efficiency, less material handling, more consistency between parts, as well as the ability to hold tighter tolerance. Roll forming also offers the option of cut to specific length or bulk lengths which can be an advantage for tier two manufacturing, assembly and ship to site. In addition. Roll forming is favored over other fabrication methods because it is a price sensitive option based on larger run volumes. Some other advantages with roll forming is the ability to incorporate a variety of special features such as pre-punching, inline welding, notching, hemming and knurling. When done inline as one operation this can be extremely cost effective.

While hot formed shapes are used in specific applications where precise tolerance is generous, cold forming is material that is further worked and produces profiles with tighter tolerance and typically offers more of a finished product surface. As such, cold formed steel can be used in precise applications, it will yield a harder and stronger profile then that of hot rolled. In addition, further processing will increase the hardness, increase the resistance against tensions breaking, as well as provide resistance against deformation due to the work hardening. Aesthetically it gives a finished looks finished.

With these many benefits, it is no surprise that cold forming has applications in many industries, including solar, transportation, industrial racking, material handling, patio doors & windows, automotive, furniture, appliance, construction, HVAC, electrical, agriculture, and so many more!

How RPM Rollformed Metal Products Can Help!

RPM is a manufacturer of custom roll formed metal profiles. With product offerings focusing on galvanized steel, stainless steel, copper, and aluminum profiles for a wide variety of industries. RPM currently operates over 20 roll forming lines with capabilities to produce open channels, complex contours, laser welded profiles, pre-punched profiles and more. RPM has the capabilities to handle a variety of different thicknesses and metal alloys!

Please contact us at or call us at 877-665-7655 to discuss how we can be of service!

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