A guide rail roll forming machine is an essential equipment used for producing various types of guide rails through the continuous bending and forming of a metal coil strip. Guide rails are widely used across many industries to provide guiding, positioning, and supporting functions in linear motion systems. This article provides a detailed guide on guide rail roll forming machines covering their working principles, main components, types, technical specifications, applications, installation, operation and maintenance procedures.
Overview of Guide Rail Roll Forming Machines
Roll forming is a continuous bending operation in which sheet or coil metal stock is progressively formed into a specified cross-sectional profile through a series of consecutive sets of rolls. Guide rail roll forming machines use this technique to transform metal coil strips into finished guide rail profiles through a series of processes including feeding, rolling, cutting and punching.
The forming rolls are arranged in stands for shaping the strip into the desired contour as it moves through the machine. The number of roll stands required depends on the complexity of the final profile. Corrective rollers may be used for precision forming. Punching units cut holes and notches while cutoff devices cut the formed rails to length.
Guide rail roll forming machines offer efficient and cost-effective production of long length guide rail profiles in large quantities without the need for pre-cut metal blanks. They enable fast changeover between different guide rail shapes using the same machine. Automated operations, good dimensional accuracy and excellent surface finish are other advantages.
Main Components of Guide Rail Roll Forming Machines
The major components of a standard guide rail roll forming machine are:
Table: Main components of guide rail roll forming machines
|Uncoiler||Holds the coil of sheet metal and feeds it into the roll forming line at a suitable tension|
|Feed table||Supports the strip and guides it into the forming section|
|Forming rolls||Progressive sets of rolls that gradually shape the metal strip into desired profile|
|Punching units||Punches holes, slots and notches at specified locations|
|Cutoff shear||Cuts formed rails to required length|
|Supporting rolls||Provide support and prevent sagging of formed profile|
|Decoiler||Takes up the finished product|
|Control panel||Houses electrical, automation and safety systems|
The uncoiler and decoiler allow continuous production by joining the trailing end of the exhausting coil to the leading end of a new coil and collecting the finished rails into a coil.
Types of Guide Rail Roll Forming Machines
Guide rail roll forming machines are available in different designs depending on the size of guide rails produced, level of automation and production volume needs:
Table: Major types of guide rail roll forming machines
|Manual||Require operator intervention for material feeding and progression|
|Semi-automatic||Automatically feeds raw coil but requires manual offloading|
|Fully automatic||Automated reel changing and offloading of finished pieces|
|Single rail||Produces one guide rail profile|
|Double rail||Capable of forming two different rails simultaneously|
|Custom||Tailor made for specific non-standard guide rail sections|
The main technical specifications of guide rail roll forming machines include:
Table: Technical specifications of guide rail roll forming machines
|Coil width capacity||50 – 520 mm|
|Thickness range||0.3 – 3 mm|
|Forming speed||10 – 40 m/min|
|Roller diameter||100 – 150 mm|
|Number of roll stands||10 -16|
|Installed power||7.5 – 15 kW|
|Voltage||220V/380V 3Phase 50Hz|
|Machine weight||2000 – 8000 kg|
- Coil width, thickness range, number of roller heads and other parameters depend on the guide rail size and vary across models.
- Higher forming speeds are possible with machines having CNC control and servo motor drives.
Applications of Guide Rail Roll Forming Machines
Guide rail roll forming machines are versatile equipment suitable for producing all kinds of guide rails used in diverse applications:
Table: Major applications of guide rail profiles
|Automation||Guide rails for cartesian robots, pick and place systems|
|Machine tools||Guide rails for slides, tables, column supports|
|Packaging||Guide rails for conveyors, linear motion systems|
|Material handling||Guide rails for AGVs, automatic warehouses|
|Aerospace||Guide rails for assembly jigs and tools|
|Renewable energy||Guide rails for solar panel movement|
|Railways||Guide rails for wagon lifts, turntables|
|Elevators||Guide rails for lifts, escalators|
Almost any industry using linear motion technology relies on guide rail profiles suitable for their specific application requirements.
Installation and Commissioning
Proper installation and commissioning procedures must be followed to ensure smooth operation of guide rail roll forming machines:
- The machine should be placed on a flat, leveled surface and securely bolted down. There should be sufficient space around for coil loading and finished product offloading.
- Roll forming lines operate at high speeds so vibration isolation mounts should be used underneath the machine frame.
- Electrical connections must be made correctly by a qualified person adhering to local safety norms. The control panel requires both power supply and stable grounding.
- Trial runs should be performed and forming parameters fine-tuned to achieve guides rails with correct dimensions and geometry. Test pieces should be physically measured.
- The decoiler unit must be set up properly with the correct tension to take-up the finished rails without deformation.
- Safety guards, light curtains and emergency stop circuits should be checked before regular production.
Operation and Working Principle
The typical operation sequence and working principle of guide rail roll forming machines is as follows:
- A coil of sheet metal strip is loaded on the powered unwinding reel and threaded through the guiding rolls into the forming section.
- The strip is fed incrementally through successive sets of profiled rolls which gradually bend it into the final guide rail shape.
- Supporting rolls stabilize the formed section while punching units create holes as required.
- At specific intervals, cutoff blades shear the rails to the desired cut length.
- The finished guide rails exit the machine and are taken up by the powered recoiling reel.
- Automatic sensors monitor the line and control the speed of rotation, strip tension and other parameters.
- If multiple rails are being formed, splitters separate them before recoiling.
- When one coil is fully consumed, the trailing edge is welded to the next coil and fed in without stopping production.
Maintenance and Precautions
Regular maintenance activities are vital for trouble-free operation of guide rail roll forming machines:
- Rolls, bearings, shafts and gears should be lubricated as specified by the manufacturer.
- Worn-out or damaged forming rolls should be refurbished or replaced to maintain profile accuracy.
- Punching tool blades need to be sharpened periodically to cut holes cleanly.
- Cutoff blades must be kept sharp for clean shear cuts and long service life.
- All motors and drives should be kept in good condition. Wiring has to be checked for integrity.
- The machine must be kept clean and dry. Debris should not collect in the working parts.
- Staff operating the machine must be provided safety training and personal protective equipment.
- Unexpected vibration or abnormal noise should be investigated immediately and addressed.
- Technical manuals must be referred for maintenance schedules, spare parts codes and troubleshooting guides.
Choosing a Guide Rail Roll Forming Machine Supplier
Selecting the right guide rail roll forming machine supplier is crucial for getting equipment that meets the production needs. Below are important factors to consider when choosing a supplier:
Table: Criteria for choosing guide rail roll forming machine supplier
|Reputation||Experience, customer reviews, quality standards|
|Design expertise||Capability to design tooling for new profiles|
|Customization||Flexibility to modify machine per application|
|Speed and efficiency||High production rates, quick roll changes|
|Reliability||Consistent performance, minimal downtime|
|Range of machines||Different automation levels, sizes and capacities|
|After-sales service||Installation support, maintenance contracts, spare parts supply|
|Cost||Pricing commensurate with build quality and features|
|Certifications||ISO, CE and other standards compliance|
Reputable manufacturers who have supplied many machines successfully should be preferred. Visiting existing customer sites gives direct feedback. The supplier’s expertise and flexibility to design tooling for new profiles to meet specific requirements is advantageous. Procurement costs may be higher for automated machines with advanced features but can be justified by lower operating costs over the long run.
The approximate price range of guide rail roll forming machines based on their size, production capacity and level of automation is:
Table: Price range of guide rail roll forming machines
|Manual and semi-automatic||$10000 – $40000|
|Automatic single-rail||$50000 – $80000|
|Automatic double-rail||$100000 – $200000|
|Custom and large sizes||>$250000|
Other aspects affecting cost:
- Forming speed and coil capacity
- Complexity of guide rail profile
- Number of tooling stands
- Precision and surface finish
- Additional punching and cutting features
- Type of motors and control system
- Brand and manufacturing country
Higher capacity, fully automated machines with advanced features and accessories command premium pricing but offer faster amortization of investment due to higher production volumes. Getting quotes from different manufacturers is advisable.
Pros and Cons of Guide Rail Roll Forming Machines
Table: Advantages and limitations of guide rail roll forming machines
|High production rates||High initial investment cost|
|Excellent consistency and accuracy||Complex tooling design required|
|Minimal material waste||Regular maintenance essential|
|Suitable for mass production||Expert supervision needed|
|Fast changeover between profiles||Size limitations of coil width and thickness|
|Low operating costs per piece||Trained workforce required|
|Superior surface finish||Single purpose equipment|
|Flexible production control||Space needs for material handling|
Q: What materials can be used to make guide rails?
A: Cold-rolled low carbon steel, galvanized steel and stainless steel are commonly used. Aluminum, brass and other metals are also possible but less common.
Q: What is the tolerance that can be achieved on guide rail dimensions?
A: Roll forming can produce guide rails with a dimensional tolerance of ±0.1 to 0.3 mm. Advanced machines can achieve ±0.1 mm accuracy.
Q: Are lubrication systems required on guide rail roll forming machines?
A: Most machines have automated oil or grease lubrication systems for the bearing blocks supporting the forming rolls. This minimizes wear and enables high speed operation.
Q: How to calculate the production rate of the machine?
A: Production rate (meters/min) = Forming speed (m/min) x Number of parallel rails. For example, 20 m/min speed on a double rail machine gives 40 m/min production rate.
Q: What quality standards are used for guide rail profiles?
A: DIN 645-1, JIS B1101, GB/T 9113-2008 are some common standards. Custom profiles require tooling designed as per application needs.
Guide rail roll forming provides an optimal manufacturing process to mass produce long length guide rails in standard and custom profiles with excellent accuracy and repeatability. This detailed guide has covered all essential aspects of guide rail roll forming machines to assist manufacturers in understanding their working, capabilities, applications, selection and maintenance. The structured information helps compare different options to choose equipment optimized for specific production needs.