Here is the most comprehensive information about metal channels on the internet.
You will learn:
- What is a Metal Channel?
- Types of Metal Channel Shapes
- Uses for Metal Channels
- Metals Used to Make Metal Channels
- And much more…
Chapter 1 – What is a Metal Channel?
A wire brush is an abrasive tool that has stiff bristles made from a variety of rigid materials designed to clean and prepare metal surfaces. The filaments of wire brushes are small diameter pieces of inflexible material that are closely spaced together as a means for cleaning surfaces that require aggressive and abrasive tools. The means of applying the brush can be either manual or mechanical depending on the type of brush and the surface to be treated.
The short video below explains the manufacturing of a unique type of wire brush called a wire drawn brush, which is a very sturdy and durable brush that is made by a process that ensures filament retention.
A metal channel is a roll formed metal strip that has been shaped into a tube or a U, J, or C shape to be used in several industrial applications. Various types of metal are ideal for use as metal channel profiles and are chosen according to the needs of the application. The types of metals include steel, aluminum, zinc, or brass with aluminum being the most used due to its resilience, adaptability, and rust and corrosion resistance.
The brief video below from Premier Products of Racine offers an explanation of the roll forming process used in the making of metal channels.
In the construction industry, metal channels provide a means of absorbing sound by being placed between the two sides of plasterboard walls. When the walls vibrate because of sound on either side of a wall, the channels dampen the sound waves by muffling the vibrations caused by the sound. This is only one of the many uses for exceptionally durable and long lasting metal channels.
Chapter 2 – Types of Metal Channels
Metal channels are produced by high speed roll forming that converts metal into linear roll formed channel shapes. The shapes and dimensions of the roll formed channels depends on the requirements of the type of application where they will be used. The main functions of metal channels include continuous support and strengthening of other components.
In the design process, metal channels begin with a base, which is referred to as the web that has legs on either side. During the roll forming process, the strips of metal are shaped into various forms that are strategically designed for specific applications. Though C channels are the more common forms of metal channels. The term C channel is a generic descriptor used to define a wide array of profiles and designs.
Types of Metal Channels
C channels are one of the more common types of metal channels and are widely used in construction as building, wall, roof, and ceiling supports. The term C channel encompasses a wide variety of channel types, dimensions, and sizes since sheet metal can be roll formed to fit any specific requirements.
The term C channel comes from the roll formed profile appearance of the metal, which has the shape of a C. A C channel is shaped using the U shape with the addition of flanges on the two sides. In some cases, the flanges are completely crimped back on the sides to form a crimped C channel. There are a limitless number of channels that are labeled as C channels that come in a wide variety of shapes and forms to fit the needs of various applications.
Hat channels have a base with sides that are straight up or on an angle. At the top of the sides, the edges flare out away from the center giving a profile appearance of a wide brimmed hat setting on its crown. Like a C channel, a hat channel begins as a U shape during the initial roll forming process, which is followed by the top edges being bent outward.
The structure and shape of hat channels makes them ideal for use in roof framing, which has gained them the alternate name of hat purlins, a longitudinal, horizontal structural part of a roof. The standard length of hat channels is 20 feet though they are available in made to order lengths.
The distinctive shape of U channels is achieved by forming two right angles on a roll formed flat piece of metal. U shaped metal channels, as with other forms of channels, come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with round or flat bottoms and sides of a few inches up to several inches. The width of the bottom and the height of the right angled sides varies depending on how the U channel is to be used.
The configuration of a J channel is created by having one of the sides of the channel longer than the other, which presents a profile that is like the letter J. Though the basic J channel has a variety of sizes and uses, there are several kinds of J channels that are designed to fit a variety of application specifications.
Three common forms of J channels are the simple version without a hem, a hemmed type, and J channel that has a flat portion that can be screwed or nailed on. Like other forms of metal channels, J channels are available in several lengths from a few feet up to over 20 feet.
Chapter 3 - How Metal Channels are Roll Formed
Metal channels are produced by roll forming a sheet or strip of metal. Roll forming is a continuous bending of a metal strip as it passes through a set of consecutive rollers, also known as stands, that incrementally deform a portion of the metal until the desired shape is achieved. Once the shaping and configuring is completed, the formed parts are cut to the desired lengths.
Roll forming is an inexpensive method for producing large quantities of parts without the need for secondary processing or finishing. There is a limitless number of metal channel profiles that can be produced using roll forming.
How Metal Channels are Roll Formed
All roll formed parts, including metal channels, begin with a computer aided design (CAD) that includes the design elements of geometry, length, and metal. The purpose of the design is to display it as a single structure to streamline production. The flexibility of CAD allows the part to be created by entering its dimensions or drawing the part directly into CAD. From the entered data, the program creates a nested and separated representation of the metal channel. Both representations show the progression of the part from stand to stand in the roll forming process.
Below is a CAD separated progression of a hat channel being roll formed. The data for the roll forming progressions can be taken directly from CAD and changed into G codes to be entered into a computer numerical controlled (CNC) roll forming machine.
Sheet Metal Coil
The process of roll forming begins with a coil of metal that is mounted on an uncoiler, also known as a decoiler. The roll of sheet metal is steadily fed by the decoiler into the roll forming machine. In the image below, the uncoiler or decoiler can be seen to the right of the roll forming machine.
Metal channel roll formed parts often require hole punching of slots, holes, notches, or special custom patterns, which is performed by in-line pre-processing. Hardened tools with sharp cutting edges apply force to the metal sheet using a programmed mechanical, pneumatic, or hydraulic machine.
Roll Forming Dies
In preparation for the roll forming process, the roll forming machine has a set of precision engineered dies placed in each of the stands. These special tools are designed to exactly fit the requirements of the metal channel to be shaped. The dies for roll forming are divided into stations with a roller for each station that progressively shapes the metal sheet.
The image below shows the progressive dies for the shaping of a U shaped metal channel.
Once the dies are placed in the roll forming machine and the CAD program has been downloaded, the roll forming process begins. As the metal strip leaves the uncoiler, it goes through pre-processing and into an entry guide or table that gives the metal a square straight entry into the first pass. This part of the process is essential for ensuring the quality of the final product. The number of passes a metal channel may require can go from a very few up to thirty or more depending on the complexity of the metal channel.
Final Cut of Metal Channel
There are several different methods that are used for the beginning and ending of roll forming. Some processes have straightening at the beginning of the process while others have it at the end. Regardless of which method is being used, once the channel has been shaped, the necessary length feeds out at the end and is cut to the exact specifications and collected on a table or set of rollers.
The image below is a hydraulic cutting machine that is cutting lengths of U shaped metal channeling.
Chapter 4 – Uses for Metal Channels
Metal channels are used for a variety of applications. Their most common use is as a means of support for walls, ceilings, and roofs. Each of the different profiles offer rigid support of several thicknesses, sizes, lengths, and types of metal. The fact that metal channels can be adapted and configured for many uses makes them a valuable tool for a variety of applications.
The multiple surfaces of metal channels is one of their many benefits. The different faces provide a means for connecting them. Metal channels with notches, holes, or specialty patterns make connectivity easy.
Uses for Metal Channels
Metal channels, made of steel or aluminum, are used to build walls for garages, warehouses, workshops, or metal out buildings. They are positioned from the bottom plate of a wall to the top plate to bear the vertical load. Unlike wood studs, metal studs can support a greater amount of weight and are more rigid. The fastening of metal channels for building is more secure since they are attached using bolts or rivets instead of nails.
Metal channels made of various materials can be used as rafters that run from the eaves to the ridge and give support to the roof deck. The advantage of metal channels for rafters is their light and smaller size with the same weight bearing capabilities as other materials. Also, unlike wood, metal channels last longer since they are not susceptible to rot, decay, or the effects of moisture. In the construction of roofs, metal channels can be the main support or function as additional support for other materials.
Metal channels can be easily slid into door openings to offer a secure fit for the installation of the door. The inserted channels provide a smooth, flat, even surface for door placement and are tighter and more secure than wood framing. In cases when a fire door is required, metal channeling is the most obvious choice because of its strength and non-flammable materials.
Specially designed and shaped metal channels are produced to perform specific and unique functions for a wide range of vehicles. In most cases, these vehicle framing metal channels are made of heavy duty aluminum or steel to create the frame of a vehicle with lighter metal channels being used as cross framing and extra support. The main benefit of metal channels in vehicles is their strength and rigidity as well as their ability to prevent the vehicle from flexing but allowing a sufficient amount of movement to compensate for the torque of the vehicle’s engine.
Solar Panel Frame
A requirement for solar panels is that they be lightweight but sturdy enough to withstand harsh conditions. Metal channels are ideal for those conditions since they meet both criteria. The tensile strength of metal channels provides them with the strength necessary to endure the conditions where solar panels are installed. The lightweight of metal channels allows solar panel manufacturers to install their products in a wide variety of conditions and environments.
Chapter 5 – Metals Used in Producing Metal Channels
There are very few limits to the types of metals used to roll form metal channels though aluminum, various grades of stainless steel, and carbon steel are the more commonly used. The choice of metal for the production of a metal channel depends on what its function will be, with heavier, more rigid metals being better for heavy load conditions.
Light metals like brass and aluminum are used for the support of shelves and secondary cross supports. Steel is widely used for building studs and rafters for construction projects.
Metals Used in Producing Metal Channels
The strength and endurance of steel makes it ideal for the use in the manufacture of metal channels. Its structural strength is used in the manufacture of building frames and braces as well as supports for various types of machinery and heavy duty equipment.
The versatility and strength of aluminum makes it a perfect choice for the formation of metal channels. Though it does not have the same tensile strength as steel, it still has enough stability to be used as a support for specific applications. Aluminum channels can be found in frame extensions, light poles, lighting fixtures, window and door frames, joints, and the manufacture of lightweight ladders. Since aluminum has excellent conductivity, aluminum metal channels are used as heat conductors and reflectors.
Various grades of brass are used for the manufacture of metal channels. Brass 385, referred to as architectural bronze, is a very sturdy and resilient form of brass that has exceptional corrosion resistance and can be easily shaped and formed. Brass 385 has a pleasant aesthetic appearance that polishes to a glossy finish and is used as support for decorative applications such as shelving and wall supports for displays. Brass can be produced to exacting tolerances and in lengths to fit any application.
The many grades of stainless steel make it an ideal material for roll forming of metal channels. The qualities and attributes of stainless steel depends on the grade with some having better characteristics. The main reasons for using stainless steel are its mechanical properties, corrosion resistance, and pleasant appearance. Since stainless steel is corrosion and rust resistant, it has become a staple in the manufacture of products for industries that require exceptional cleanliness and sanitary conditions.
Commonly used stainless steel grades are 304 and 316 with 304 being the most common. The resilience of stainless steel is due to the steel being alloyed with chromium and nickel, which gives it its resistance to oxidation and corrosion. Stainless steel grade 316 is marine grade and the second most used form of stainless steel.
The main reason copper is used in roll forming is its ductility, which makes it extremely easy to roll form into any of the many metal channel profiles. In many cases, copper is alloyed with zinc to make brass and tin to make bronze. The alloying of the metals enhances their characteristics and qualities. All of the versions of copper are referred to as the red metals. Even after going through the roll forming process, they still retain their initial strength.
Though red metals are similar to stainless steel in resilience and form, they don’t have the same structural strength as stainless steel. Their outstanding and exceptional trait is their durability. Once they are oxidized, they are completely resistant to the influence and effects of environmental elements.
Chapter 6 – Industrial Uses for Metal Channels
Metal channels are a very practical and reliable component that are adaptable for use in several industries. The different properties of each of the metals as well as the many forms, shapes, and configurations makes them a source of continued use for applications that require highly durable, strong, and resilient materials.
Though metal channels have been widely used in the construction industry as rigid structural supports, they have also been adapted to fit applications where they are not needed as a structural component.
Industrial Uses for Metal Channels
What has become a necessity in construction are materials that are lightweight and recyclable but have the strength and endurance to fit the many applications required by the industry. Over the past few years, as the use of wood has become limited, the construction industry has shifted its structural needs to metal channels that meet all of the characteristics of wood but are stronger.
From the manufacturing of scaffolding to the support for walls, metal channels can be found as a sturdy, reliable and dependable material that can have one time use and be recycled or be stored for multiple uses. Since several of the metals used to produce metal channels are weather resistant, they are a practical and long lasting replacement for other methods of construction.
In the transportation industry, metal channels can be found in window tracks, bumpers, reinforcement bars, structural components, and vehicular trim. In the basic structural design of modern vehicles, metal channels have become a necessity as a means of reducing the overall weight of vehicles to improve gas mileage.
Design engineers depend on metal channels in the development of new designs and lightweight structural support. The flexibility and adaptability of metal channels are the major reason that designers and engineers rely on them as a major component in the development of new transportation concepts.
A challenge for the agricultural industry is materials that can withstand constant use but be able to endure harsh environmental conditions. The main use for metal channels in the industry is for the construction of enclosures for animals and storage bins. The nature of grains, animal feed, and fertilizers requires that any form of storage unit or enclosure be able to meet the conditions of use and weather but not be contaminated or contaminate what is being stored. The varieties of metals from which metal channels are produced offers several solutions to meet the agriculture industry requirements.
Since metal channels are lightweight but resilient, they can be used to build storage units for one location and later be easily moved to another location with little effort. This reduces storage expenses and provides producers with multifunctional equipment.
The main requirement for any product or component for aviation is that it be functional and lightweight. Metal channels are widely used in aviation for those very reasons. Cabin walls, seats, and supports on aircraft use light weight metal channels as a reliable, dependable, and fail safe asset.
In most cases, metal channels used in the aerospace industry are made of lighter metals such as aluminum, which has the added benefit of being resistant to weathering, rust, and corrosion, three factors that can be harmful and dangerous to aircraft.
The uses for metal channels described above are only a few of the many ways that engineers and designers have made creative use of metal channels. Highway signs, bridges, heaters, home appliances, factory equipment, and office furniture depend on metal channels as a means of support and reliable function.
As natural materials, such as wood, become more limited, metal channels, a recyclable and strong part, will find greater use.
- A metal channel is a roll formed metal strip that has been shaped into a tube or a U, J, or C shape for industrial and manufacturing use.
- Metal channels are produced by high speed roll forming that converts metal into linear roll formed channel shapes.
- Metal channels are used for a variety of applications. Their most common use is as a means of support for walls, ceilings, and roofs.
- There are very few limits to the types of metals used to roll form metal channels though aluminum, various grades of stainless steel, and carbon steel are some of the more commonly used.