Nearly any material that can tolerate bending to a desired radius, can be made into rolled formed parts. If a material is more ductile, it will be better for roll forming. Roll forming processes can handle ferrous, nonferrous, cold rolled, hot rolled, polished, plated or pre-painted metals. Rolled formed parts are valued for a lot of reasons, among them are uniformity, accuracy, structural integrity and low tooling costs.
Rolled formed parts include angle iron, C channels, hat channels, J channels, metal channels, metal rings, metal trim, metal wall panels, steel channels, U channels and more. Industries who use rolled formed parts include aerospace, agriculture, appliance, automotive, building products, elevators, furniture, material handling, railroad, storage, store fixtures and many more.
Since the process of roll forming is easy to repeat, rolled formed parts can be produced at high volumes. A wide array of cross-section profiles can be used in the roll forming process. Open profiles are most common, but a closed tube-like shape can be created also.
Rolled formed steel parts can be produced with either hot or cold rolled forming. Hot rolled steel is rolled at temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot rolled steel is more malleable, which allows it to be forced into a variety of shapes. Hot rolled steel will reconfigure itself during the cooling process, which gives the product looser tolerances than the original material and compared to cold rolled products. Cold rolling processes take place at nearly room temperature. The finished product is strengthened by as much as 20 percent through the use of strain hardening.
Rolled formed parts have found a market niche in the last 10 years or so, with the solar energy industry. Solar panel mounts like fixed ground mounts, tilt ground mounts and roof mounts can all be produced with rolled formed parts. Since the renewable energy market is still evolving and expanding, it is important for manufacturers to contain costs in order to increase market demand. According to the 2016 Solar Market Insight Report, a new megawatt of solar photovoltaic (PV) came on-line every 36 minutes in 2016 and rolled formed parts play a major role in mounting these renewable energy sources.
There are three main factors which impact the cost of rolled formed parts. Complexity of the part, dimensions of the part and volume of the order. Complex parts must pass through the roll former more than less complex parts. More complex parts can take hours to set up the rolling machine and require more tooling, which impacts the costs. Dimensions will affect the cost, though dimensions are less of a limiting factor for roll forming than for brake forming, which is restricted by the width of the press brake. Choosing to construct racking systems from steel instead of aluminum can save up to 30% on cost. Steel may not have the corrosion resistance as aluminum does, but the cost savings have companies opting for steel rolled formed parts.