Roll forming, also spelled rollforming, is a type of rolling involving the continuous bending of a long strip of sheet metal (typically HR & CR steel) into a desired cross-section. The strip passes through sets of rolls mounted on consecutive stands, each set performing only an incremental part of the bend, until the desired cross-section (profile) is obtained. Roll forming is ideal for producing constant-profile parts with long lengths and in large quantities.
Roll forming machines are available that produce shapes of different sizes and material thicknesses using the same rolls. Variations in size are achieved by making the distances between the rolls variable by manual adjustment or computerized controls, allowing for rapid changeover. These specialized mills are prevalent in the light gauge framing industry where metal studs and tracks of standardized profiles and thicknesses are used.
Roll forming lines can be set up with multiple configurations to punch and cut off parts in a continuous operation. For cutting a part to length, the lines can be set up to use a pre-cut die where a single blank runs through the roll mill, or a post-cut die where the profile is cutoff after the roll forming process. Features may be added in a hole, notch, embossment, or shear form by punching in a roll forming line. These part features can be done in a pre-punch application (before roll forming starts), in a mid-line punching application (in the middle of a roll forming line/process) or a post punching application (after roll forming is done).