Metal roll forming is a continuous bending operation in which sheet metal is gradually formed into the desired cross-sectional profile through a series of consecutive forming stations. Roll formed metal profiles are used extensively in industries such as construction, automotive, appliance manufacturing and more.
Ameco is one of the leading manufacturers of metal roll forming machines and lines. They offer a wide range of roll formers and custom profile design and manufacturing capabilities. In this guide, we will take an in-depth look at Ameco metal roll forming machines, their features, capabilities and applications.
What is ameco metal roll forming machine?
Ameco (American Metal Products Company) is a machine tool company based in Fullerton, California, USA. The company was founded in 1946 and started out manufacturing corrugated metal panels for the construction industry.
In the 1960s, Ameco began manufacturing roll forming machines and has since become one of the most reputable brands in the metal forming equipment industry. The company offers a full range of roll forming machines as well as complete turnkey roll forming lines.
Some key facts about Ameco:
- Over 75 years of experience in metal forming equipment manufacturing
- Worldwide distribution network in over 58 countries
- Manufacturing facilities in the USA and China
- Complete in-house engineering for designing custom roll forming equipment
- Industry-leading 5 year standard warranty on all equipment
Ameco roll forming machines are widely used by manufacturers of metal building components, solar racking systems, garage doors, lighting fixtures, shelving, automotive parts and more.
Types of Ameco Roll Forming Machines
Ameco offers roll formers in three main equipment categories:
Standard Roll Formers
The standard product range consists of entry level and mid-range roll forming machines. These are general purpose roll formers suitable for most common profiles with uPVC, steel, aluminum and other metal coils.
They are available in different sizes and production speeds to suit low to mid volume requirements. Ameco’s EcoRoll series are the most popular standard roll formers featuring a rugged design and touch screen controls.
Custom Roll Formers
For manufacturing specialized profiles, Ameco provides made-to-order custom roll formers. These allow creating complex custom shapes and profiles designed and engineered specifically for the application.
The custom machines incorporate special tooling and design features to match the profile requirements precisely while maximizing production efficiency.
Roll Forming Lines
For high volume production, Ameco offers complete end-to-end roll forming lines. This includes decoilers, pre-punches, notching, punching and cutting machines integrated with a production roll former using a material handling system.
Automated roll forming lines can produce over 200 feet/minute with quick changeover between profiles. Ameco engineers handle line layout, integration, installation and provide all controls.
Key Features of Ameco Roll Forming Machines
Ameco roll formers incorporate rugged construction and several design elements that make them versatile, easy-to-use and built to last:
- Heavy duty steel frame construction – Made from steel I-beams and thick steel plate components which dampens vibration and allows high speed operation.
- Industrial strength drive system – Hardened helical gearbox provides smooth power transmission and reduced maintenance. TEFC motors with electronic variable speed provide precise speed control.
- Quick change forming heads – Modular tooling design allows easy profile changeover by switching tool packs. Minimizes downtime between production runs.
- Easy coil loading – Side or rear loading of coils from 33lbs to 5000lbs capacity. Powered decoilers available for heavy coils.
- Touchscreen HMI – User-friendly and intuitive controls screen for monitoring and controlling all machine functions. Provides diagnostics and error logging.
- Precision roll tooling – Hardened rollers with independent power floated roller boxes maintain close tolerances and prevent oil canning.
- Servo roll spacing adjustment – Servo motors allow quick and repeatable adjustment of roll spacing to control material thickness.
- Safety enclosures – Enclosed nip point guards, emergency stops and interlocks for operator safety.
Roll Forming Process Basics
The roll forming operation works by gradually forming the profile in incremental steps by bending the strip through consecutive roller stations. Each roller station incrementally forms the material to the next stage of the profile shape.
The key steps in the basic roll forming process are:
- Feeding – The strip (usually coiled metal) enters the roll former and is fed through by powered feed rolls.
- Bending – As the strip passes through the roller stations, the rollers produce incremental bends that gradually form the material.
- Shaping – By the exit end, the desired profile shape is completely formed through the sequential roller bends.
- Cut-off – The finished profile is cut to length by a shearing end cut-off.
- Exit – The formed product exits the roll former where it can be manually offloaded or automatically stacked.
The number of roller stations and complexity of tooling will vary considerably based on the final profile design. Simple profiles like square or rectangle tubes may only require 5-6 stations while complex shapes need 20 or more stations.
Design Considerations for Roll Formed Parts
Roll forming allows continuous production of profiles but the part shapes that can be produced are limited by certain design considerations:
- Constant cross-section – The profile must have a continuous cross-section without interruptions along the length.
- No sharp corners – Radiused bends and gradual transitions are required since material cannot be formed at sharp right angles.
- Simple surfaces – Complex 3D curves or extrusions are generally not possible. Profiles are limited to single plane shapes.
- Bend orientation – Bends are usually limited to one plane across the width only, not along the length. Some edge crimping may be possible.
- Springback – The elastic springback effect after bending may require overbending and compensation in the roller design.
- Tooling access – Tooling must be accessible horizontally from the side so may require profile split into two planes.
- Strip properties – Ductility of the material and width/thickness ratios will determine formability.
Ameco’s design engineering team can provide guidance on the geometries feasible with roll forming based on the desired material specifications and production requirements.
Industries Using Ameco Roll Forming Machines
The versatile and economical roll forming process using Ameco machines is utilized across many industries including:
- Building and construction – Roofing panels, wall panels, drainage systems, steel studs, roofing slats, solar racking.
- Automotive – Rocker panels, roof rails, trim components, anti-intrusion beams.
- HVAC – Heat exchangers, fan housings, ducting, venting systems.
- Agriculture – Building framing, drainage pipes, livestock equipment, greenhouse frames.
- Material handling – Pallet racking, shelving, conveyor components, safety guarding.
- Energy – Mounting rails, transmission poles, generator frames, wind towers.
- Transportation – Rail car liners, truck bodies, trailers, cargo containers.
Ameco roll formers can process stainless steel, galvanized, aluminum, copper and mild steel coils ranging from 0.5 mm to 2.5 mm thickness. Wide coils up to 73 inches can be run.
Typical Roll Formed Profiles
Here are some examples of common profiles that are produced using Ameco roll forming machines:
- Square and rectangle tubes
- Cee and Zee structural studs
- Angle rails and brackets
- Cladding panels with complex beads
- Sigma section roofing slats
- Formed metal sheets with ribs and louvers
- Hat section automotive beams
- Lighting channel and trim
- Door and jamb reinforcements
- Roofing drainage components
- Solar module and HVAC mounts
- Pallet rack connectors and rollers
Ameco’s custom profile design service allows creating optimized tooling for your unique shape requirements.
Benefits of Roll Forming
There are several advantages that make roll forming with Ameco machines preferable over other metal forming processes for high volume production:
- Continuous operation – No starts and stops as with press brakes or stamping presses.
- High production rates – Up to 10 times faster than typical brake forming methods.
- Lower tooling cost – Roll sets are more economical compared to large press brakes or stamping dies. Quick change tooling allows fast profile changeovers.
- Material savings – No material wasted from sheet layouts versus other cut-to-length processes.
- Dimensional precision – Roll formed profiles maintain close dimensional tolerances along the full length.
- Flexibility – Able to produce wide range of shapes by changing roll tooling.
- Quality finish – Roll formed surfaces have a smooth finish without warping sometimes seen with other processes.
- Scalability – Production output can be increased by running faster or adding multiple lines.
For long production runs, roll forming provides a cost effective and efficient forming solution. Ameco machines provide heavy duty construction for 24/7 operation and years of service.
Typical Roll Tooling Configurations
The tooling configuration used in the roll forming machine will depend on the profile shape requirements:
- Pyramid style – Each roller station has one top and one bottom roller. Suitable for simple open profiles like tubes.
- Two-roll cluster – Alternating stations with two horizontal and two vertical roll clusters. Allows more complex shapes.
- Four-roll cluster – Four rollers (alternatively horizontal and vertical) in each station. Provides maximum flexibility for complex forms.
- Pre-punching – Adds a preliminary punching station before roll forming to punch holes in the strip. Required for certain perforated profiles.
- Pre-notching – Incorporates edge notching station to notch the sides of the strip before roll forming.
- Post-punching – Punching station after roll forming for features like hole punches.
- Crimping – Crimps the edges longitudinally using crimping rollers.
For specialty profiles, Ameco’s engineering team will design custom tooling and machine features for optimal forming results. Quick change tooling allows storing multiple tooling sets for fast profile changeover.
Ameco Roll Former Operation and Controls
Operating an Ameco roll forming machine is designed to be straightforward for the end user. Here are the key operation steps:
- The machine is first set up with the required tooling pack and roll stand spacing. Coil size is set up in the decoiler.
- The lead end of the coil is fed through the rolls and attached to the coiler.
- Roller box height is finely adjusted to control material thickness. Test pieces are run to verify shape.
- Main electrical cabinet is powered on which starts the line. The line is jogged to gradually accelerate to running speed.
- HMI touchscreen allows the operator to monitor and control the production process.
- During production, formed profiles are automatically coiled or exit the machine for offline cutting.
- Wireless mobile control pendants allow controlling the line remotely for functions like jogging.
- For troubleshooting, the HMI displays diagnostics and provides video feeds from cameras along the line.
Ameco control systems can range from basic PLC automation up to high end PC and servo motor controls depending on the machine model. Options like quick changeover recipes, production scheduling and other Industry 4.0 features may be included.
Roll Former Safety Features
Roll forming machines contain moving components requiring safety measures. Ameco roll formers incorporate extensive safety mechanisms:
- Fully safety enclosed work area guarding with interlocks on access doors
- Light curtains and barriers surrounding the roller stations
- Emergency stop buttons located around the machine
- Nip point detection which immediately stops the machine if an object is detected
- Overload and overspeed sensors
- Motors, pumps and electrical components conform to IP54 protection standards
- CE compliant design with local machine safety regulations
Only properly trained operators should operate the machine after receiving instruction in safe working procedures. Regular maintenance and inspection of all safety mechanisms is crucial.
Buying Considerations for Ameco Roll Forming Equipment
Important factors to consider when purchasing Ameco roll forming equipment:
- Production volume – Required running speed and output rate determines machine size.
- Materials – Type of metal coil material impacts machine construction.
- Profile specifications – Complexity of final shape determines roll forming stations needed.
- Tooling – Specialized tooling like pre-punches or crimping may be required.
- Automation level – Basic operation or fully automated material handling system.
- Budget – Ameco offers a wide range of machine models and options at different investment levels.
- Delivery time – Standard or customized models impact lead time which ranges from 6-14 weeks typically.
- Future expansion – Ability to add production capacity by integrating additional lines.
Selecting the optimal Ameco roll former depends on weighing factors like part requirements, annual volume, operator skill level, production efficiency goals and cost targets.
Roll Former Maintenance Tips
To sustain smooth operation and minimize downtime, regular maintenance of Ameco roll formers is recommended:
- Daily – Visual inspection, verify oil levels, clean equipment, check safety mechanisms.
- Weekly – Lubricate machine, inspect gears and chains, check roll alignment.
- Monthly – Inspect electrics, sensors and controls, test emergency stop, inspect guarding.
- Quarterly – Grease bearings, change gearbox oil, inspect/replace worn rolls and guides.
- Annually – Clean and overhaul gearbox, inspect frame and fittings, update software and controls.
Ameco provides detailed preventive maintenance schedules for each machine model covering daily, weekly, monthly and annual maintenance tasks.
Ameco Roll Former Troubleshooting
Some common issues with troubleshooting tips for Ameco roll formers:
- Profile distortion – Check roll alignment, adjust roll spacing, replace worn rolls.
- Uneven profile – Clean buildup on rolls, lubricate tooling, adjust roll box settings.
- Machine jamming – Check coil alignment, inspect roll tooling for damage, verify material feed speed.
- Excess material vibration – Increase material hold down pressure, check support roll settings, slow down speed.
- Electrical faults – Check connections and fuses, inspect controls and sensors, verify power supply voltage.
- Hydraulic leaks – Tighten fittings, inspect hoses and cylinders for wear or damage, check fluid levels.
- Mechanical noise – Lubricate gearbox and bearings, inspect for loose parts or debris, check for misalignment.
Ameco provides detailed troubleshooting guides for their machines. For faults not resolvable in-house, Ameco’s technical support team is available for advice and service.
Ameco roll forming machines provide heavy duty construction combined with easy operation and flexibility to produce a wide range of metal profiles. Whether a simple tube shape or a highly complex custom profile, Ameco offers cost-effective roll forming equipment solutions.
With over 75 years of roll forming experience, Ameco is recognized as an industry leader. Their roll formers provide the reliability, precision and durability to maximize production efficiency for the most demanding applications.
If you are exploring roll forming for a manufacturing project, Ameco’s knowledgeable sales engineering team can help select the right equipment specifications for your specific production needs and budget. Their custom profiling services allow creation of optimized tooling for your unique part geometry.
With the versatility to meet the needs of diverse industries, Ameco roll forming machines are an ideal production solution for long-run roll formed components.