Roll forming is a metal forming process used to create long profile sections with a uniform cross-section. It works by progressively bending a strip of sheet metal through a series of roller dies until the desired cross-sectional shape is obtained. Roll forming machines are highly efficient and economical for producing high volumes of standardized parts with great precision and consistency.
One common application of roll forming technology is in the production of shelf panels used in retail stores, warehouses, workshops and homes. Shelf panel roll forming machines can rapidly produce strong, lightweight shelves in varying lengths from coiled steel. This saves metal fabrication shops time and money compared to cutting and welding individual shelf components.
In this article, we will look at how shelf panel roll forming machines work and their key components. We’ll also discuss the benefits of roll formed shelf panels and tips for setting up your own roll forming line for shelf production.
How Shelf Panel Roll Forming Machines Work
A shelf panel roll forming machine forms metal coil into shelf profiles through a series of sequential bending and shaping operations. The process allows shelves of various sizes to be continuously produced from a single strip of raw material.
Here are the key steps in how shelf panel roll formers work:
1. Feeding Coiled Metal into the Machine
The input material for the roll forming process is metal coil. Standard widths for shelf production are around 24” to 48”. The coil is loaded onto a de-coiler which feeds the strip through the machine.
2. Shearing the Metal
The strip is first cut to the required shelf length by a shear or cutting device. The shear may be at the start of the line or further downstream after some initial forming.
3. Forming the Profile
The cut length of metal then passes through a series of roller dies. Each die makes a small bend until the final shelf shape is progressively achieved.
4. Other Shaping Operations
Additional operations may be integrated into the roll former for extra functionality:
- छिद्रण – Holes for shelf brackets are punched into the profile.
- Notching – Notches are created for shelf connections and fittings.
- एम्बॉसिंग – Surface patterns are pressed into the material.
- Cut-offs – Individual shelves are cut from the profile at the desired lengths.
5. Output of Finished Shelves
The formed shelf panels are automatically stacked at the output end, ready for hardware insertion and final inspection. Conveyors often transfer the completed shelves to a packaging area.
Main Components of a Shelf Panel Roll Former
Shelf panel roll forming lines contain a number of important components that work together to create the finished shelves:
Coil Handling Equipment
- डी-coiler – Feeds the strip material into the roll former. Has powered unwinding mechanism to provide tension control.
- Coil car – Holds the coil being fed into the machine. Allows quick coil changeovers.
- Straightener – Removes coil curvature and straightens the strip before forming. Uses articulated rolls or pyramid arrangement.
- Feed table – Supports and guides the strip into the roll former. Has adjustable height and side guides.
Roll Forming Stations
- Roller dies – Progressively form the material through a series of bending and shaping stations. Over 20 stations is typical.
- Forming rolls – Located between stations to support the material during forming. Rotate to avoid scratches.
- Roll housings – Hold and position the roller dies at each station. Allow quick die changeouts when profile is altered.
- Rotary shear – Rotating blades cut the strip to length at the start or intermediate stage of the line.
- Guillotine shear – Straight blades shear material at the final stage after all forming is complete.
Additional Processing Stations
- Punching press – Punches holes for shelf brackets into the profiles.
- Notching machine – Creates notches in the shelves for connections. Based on milling or punching.
- Embossing station – Uses textured rollers to imprint patterns into the metal surface.
- Marking – Prints identification information like batch numbers on the shelves.
- Conveyors – Transports shelves from one station to the next. Used for loading, unloading and transfer.
- Stackers – Automatically stacks finished shelf panels exiting the line. Allows efficient bundling.
All of these components are controlled from a central control panel. The line is also equipped with safety barriers and sensors to ensure safe operation.
Benefits of Using a Shelf Panel Roll Former
Here are some of the main advantages of using a roll forming machine for shelf production:
- High productivity – Roll forming lines produce shelves 3-10 times faster than fabrication methods. Over 100 feet per minute is possible.
- गाढ़ापन – Roll formed shelves have an identical profile along the length. Bends and holes are precisely aligned.
- Material savings – Roll forming reduces material waste by forming shelves from narrow coil strips rather than wide sheets.
- Adaptability – Roll formers can produce various shelf designs by changing the roller dies. Fast size changeovers.
- Strength – The cold rolling process work hardens the metal, increasing shelf strength and rigidity.
- Low tooling cost – Roller dies are relatively inexpensive to produce compared to stamping or press brake dies.
- Safety – Advanced roll forming lines have safety guards and sensors built in for operator protection.
- Automation – Roll forming allows a lights-out, unattended production process once settings are optimized.
Overall, using a shelf panel roll forming machine improves productivity and quality compared to traditional fabrication techniques. The automated process, flexibility, and cost efficiency make roll forming the preferred method for high volume shelf production.
Roll Forming Machine Setup Considerations
Here are some important factors to consider when setting up a roll forming system for shelf manufacturing:
- Product design – The shelf profile drawing is used to design the roller dies to progressively form the correct shape.
- Material type – Common coil materials used are low carbon steel, stainless steel or aluminum. Material thickness is generally 16 to 14 gauge.
- Coil width – Narrower coils around 24” to 30” help maximize yield of shelf panels and minimize scrap.
- Die configuration – Roller dies must be set up in the proper bending sequence to avoid cracking and wrinkling.
- Shearing method – Shear selection depends on metal thickness. Thicker materials may require an initial rotary shear.
- Punch and notch tools – These stations must match the hole sizes and notch locations on the shelf design.
- लाइन की गति – Roll forming speed is optimized based on metal type and thickness to avoid quality issues.
- Conveyor sizing – Conveyors must be wide enough for the formed shelf panels which increase in width.
- Safety codes – The line needs to incorporate guards, shields and sensors to meet safety guidelines.
With attention to these parameters, a shelf panel roll forming system can be configured for efficient production runs with quick changeovers between different shelf dimensions.
Roll Formed Shelf Panel Applications
Thanks to their economical production and standardized nature, roll formed shelf panels are used in numerous commercial and residential applications:
- Retail shelving – For display shelves, gondolas, wall-mounted standards and more. Provides strength at low cost.
- Industrial shelving – Warehouse pallet racks, work benches, assembly tables, packing stations. Withstands heavy loads.
- Food processing shelves – Ideal for washdown environments. Stainless steel or aluminum prevent corrosion.
- Workshop shelving – Garages, maintenance shops, tool cribs. Adjustable brackets allow flexible configuration.
- Office shelving – For record storage, archives, supply rooms. Powder coated for aesthetics.
- Home shelving – Closets, pantries, laundry rooms, garage storage. Often with wire decking added.
Many other applications exist where standardized, straight shelf sections are required. The roll forming process allows mass production of shelves at a reasonable cost.
Roll Formed Shelf Panel Manufacturers
Many sheet metal fabricators now offer roll formed shelving using their own equipment or via suppliers. Some of the leading manufacturers of roll formed shelf panels include:
- Shade-O-Matic – Major supplier to retail chains. Offer steel, stainless and aluminum shelves.
- Madix – Shelving products for retail, manufacturing and office uses. Custom shelf profiles.
- Eagle MHC – Wide range of adjustable roll formed shelving with wire decking.
- Valrack – Powder coated and stainless steel shelves for industrial applications.
- Effektiv – Swedish company producing shelves for warehouses, retail and offices.
- DM Products – Work benches, shelving and lockers for workshops and garages.
- Elfa – Known for their modular roll formed shelving systems and components.
- Lozier – Retail store shelves and display cases. Custom roll formed products.
Many other local and regional manufacturers are also active in this market. They compete on shelf quality, lead times, engineering services and overall value.
Roll Forming Versus Other Shelf Production Methods
Roll forming is the most efficient process for high volume shelf production. But other methods exist for lower quantities or specialized shelf types:
- Fabrication – Hand cutting and welding shelf uprights and supports allows fully custom designs. Useful for heavy duty shelves in low volumes. Higher cost.
- Press brake forming – Sheet metal is progressively bent on a press brake to create shelves. Limited automation and higher cost than roll forming.
- Stamping – Good for mass producing shelves with holes and notches in a single hit. High tooling costs restrict flexibility. Mostly used for shelf brackets.
- Extruding – Hot or cold extrusion can produce specialized shelf profiles. Limited to softer metals like aluminum. Higher cost than roll forming.
For most commercial shelf applications, roll forming offers the optimum combination of efficiency, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. The automated process produces strong, uniform shelves at high volumes and low capital investment.
Roll Formed Shelf Panel Cost Factors
When budgeting for roll formed shelving, here are some of the main cost factors to consider:
- Shelf material – Type of steel or aluminum specified. Stainless steel is most expensive.
- Coil width – Narrower coils reduce scrap but require more coil changeovers.
- Profile complexity – More forming stations means higher machine cost. Simple shelf shapes are most economical.
- Secondary operations – Additional processing like punching, notching, embossing adds cost.
- Length tolerance – Tighter length tolerances require more precise (costly) shears.
- Order volume – Higher quantities achieve maximum economy of scale.
- Powder coating – Optional powder coated paint finish adds cost but improves appearance and corrosion resistance.
- Hardware – Brackets, supports, wire decking needed to complete shelving system.
- Shipping – Delivery costs can be significant for large shelving orders.
Even with all these factors, roll formed shelf panels are usually 20-50% cheaper than fabrication or other methods. Getting supplier quotes with your design, quantity and finish requirements will determine exact shelving costs.
Shelf panel roll forming machines allow metal fabricators to produce shelf components with accuracy and efficiency. The automated process forms quality shelves from narrow strips of sheet metal coil. Roll formed shelves are ideal for retail, industrial, office and residential markets where straight shelf sections are needed.
When compared to fabrication or other techniques, roll forming improves productivity, maximizes material yield, reduces labor and allows very high production rates. With attention to machine setup and profile design factors, shelf panels can be made affordably even in lower quantities.
Roll formed shelves have became a commodity product thanks to the economical advantages of the roll forming process. This has opened up shelf manufacturing to a wider range of metal working shops. We encourage you to contact leading roll formed shelf suppliers to evaluate if automation of your shelf production is beneficial.
What metals can be used for roll formed shelves?
- The most common metals are low carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Steel allows the highest load capacity while aluminum provides good corrosion resistance.
What thickness of metal is best for roll formed shelves?
- For steel shelving, thicknesses range from 16 gauge to 22 gauge, with 20 gauge being a popular standard. For aluminum, 0.080” to 0.125” is typical.
What is the maximum length and width for roll formed shelves?
- Shelves can be produced in lengths up to 20 feet. Standard widths are usually 24” to 48” depending on the application, but larger widths are possible.
How should roll formed shelves be finished?
- Shelves are often powder coated for color, protection, and aesthetics. Other options include galvanizing, anodizing (for aluminum), or simply using mill finish metal.
How are shelf brackets attached to roll formed shelves?
- Brackets use a hook design and snap onto holes punched in the uprights. Mechanical fasteners can also be used depending on loading needs.
How much weight can roll formed shelves hold?
- Load capacity depends on the shelf thickness, width, and type of support brackets. Typical capacities range from 100 lbs for light duty wire shelves up to 1000 lbs for industrial pallet racking.
How are roll formed shelves connected together?
- Tab & slot punching allows uprights to slide together. H-connectors can also join shelves at corners or tees. Weld connections may also be used but reduce shelf adjustability.
How long does it take to produce roll formed shelves?
- With a properly configured roll former, shelves can be produced at rates over 100 feet per minute. Typical batch quantities take 1-2 days depending on length.
How much do roll formed shelves cost?
- Cost depends on metal type, gauge, order quantity and powder coating. However, prices typically range between $1 – $5 per linear foot of finished shelf.