Metal roofing is becoming an increasingly popular option for both residential and commercial buildings. Metal roofs offer many benefits compared to traditional asphalt shingles or tile roofing, such as durability, energy efficiency, fire resistance, and customizability.
One of the key technologies that has enabled the growth of metal roofing is the metal roofing roll forming machine. This versatile equipment efficiently produces metal roofing panels to exact specifications. In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know about metal roofing roll forming machines.
What is a Metal Roofing Roll Forming Machine?
A metal roofing roll forming machine is an industrial machine used to convert flat metal sheets into customized metal roofing panels. It creates the iconic wavy or ribbed profile that metal roofs are known for.
The roll forming process involves gradually bending and shaping sheets of metal as they pass through a series of roller dies. Each set of rollers incrementally forms the metal into the desired profile as it progresses down the line.
Roll forming creates an interlocking ribbed pattern on the sheet metal. This gives the finished metal roofing panels extra rigidity and strength compared to flat sheets. The ribbed profile also creates an anti-siphon channel that improves weather resistance.
In addition to forming the ribbed profile, roll forming machines can also punch holes, cut to length, apply sealant, and complete other finishing tasks. Advanced 3D roll forming technology can create highly complex roofing panel shapes.
Benefits of Roll Formed Metal Roofing
There are many good reasons why most commercial metal roofing today is roll formed:
- Efficient Production: Roll forming machines produce metal roofing components rapidly and with a high degree of consistency unattainable by manual methods.
- Superior Strength: The incremental rolling process work-hardens and strengthens the metal, creating a superior interlocking ribbed profile.
- Reduced Waste: Roll forming has minimal material waste compared to other fabrication methods. Many machines feature an inline cutting system to optimize material use.
- Custom Profiles: Roll forming machines can produce metal roofing with almost any custom cross-sectional shape imaginable. Unique profiles can enhance aesthetics or performance.
- Lightweight: The ribbed profile keeps metal roofing lightweight while still providing strength. This reduces load on the roof framing.
- Cost-Effective: The automated process leads to very cost-effective metal roofing production. Savings can be passed down to consumers.
Simply put, roll forming technology enables the efficient mass production of high-quality, lightweight, and attractively designed metal roofing.
Main Components of a Metal Roofing Roll Forming Machine
While there are many types and configurations of roll forming equipment, most share the following general components:
- Coil Feed System: Large coil(s) of flat sheet metal must be loaded at the start of the line. The coil feeding mechanism smoothly unwinds the coil as the process begins.
- Sheet Guide System: Guides keep the sheet metal straight and centered as it enters the roll forming area. This ensures the uniform processing of the material.
- Roll Forming System: The core roll forming section shapes the material through a series of graduated roller dies. The number and complexity of roller stations determines the final profile.
- Cutting System: Once formed, the metal is cut to length by a saw, shear, plasma torch, or other cutter mounted after the rollers.
- Supporting Systems: Various supporting subsystems assist the process like loop control, edge preparation, hole punching, seaming, etc.
- Haul-off System: The finished cut roofing panels exit the machine at the haul-off and are moved to the next stage of production.
Automated controls oversee the synchronization of the entire system for smooth, efficient, and safe operation. Roll forming line setups can range from 15 to 200 feet long depending on the application.
Roll Forming Process Step-by-Step
The process of converting flat sheet metal into finished roofing panels involves gradually forming the material through multiple incremental rolling steps:
1. Loading Coil
Large coils of flat metal sheet, typically steel or aluminum, are loaded into a powered unwind system at the start of the line.
2. Feeding Metal Sheet
The coil feed mechanism smoothly unwinds the coil and feeds the flat sheet metal into the first roller station.
3. Rolling and Bending
The sheet passes through a long series of roller dies that gradually bend the material into the ribbed roofing profile.
4. Cutting to Length
After the final rolling station, the formed panel is cut to the required length by an integrated cutting machine.
5. Supporting Processes
Any secondary processes like punching, sealing, or embossing can be completed as the metal sheet moves down the production line.
6. Hauling Off
The finished cut metal roofing panels exit the roll former and are removed by the haul-off system.
7. Quality Inspection
Formed panels undergo inspection and quality checks before packaging or moving to the next manufacturing stage.
With multiple panels being continuously formed, the automated process enables very high throughput. A single machine can produce thousands of square feet per hour.
Types of Metal Roofing Profiles
One of the main advantages of roll forming technology is its ability to mass produce metal roofing with almost any type of cross-sectional profile. Some of the most common metal roofing profiles include:
- Standing Seam – Very popular for commercial and residential roofs. Creates watertight raised side joints when installed.
- R Panel – Basic symmetrical ribbed profile suitable for roofing and siding. Provides good drainage.
- Corrugated Panel – Iconic “corrugated tin” roofing with a sinusoidal shape. Low cost but less structural rigidity.
- 5V Crimp – Distinctive v-shaped ribs running the length of the panel. Excellent for strength and water runoff.
- Box Rib Panel – Deep square ribbing combined with low flats. Creates bold shadow lines.
- P Mansard Panel – Unique multi-layered appearance for decorative roofing applications.
- Diamond Deck Panel – Interlocking diamond-shaped raised pattern. High-end architectural look.
Almost any panel shape that suits the project aesthetics or performance requirements can be produced if the correct roller dies are installed in the roll former.
Key Considerations When Buying a Metal Roofing Roll Former
Purchasing a roll forming machine represents a significant investment for any metal fabrication company. Some key factors to keep in mind when selecting metal roofing roll forming equipment include:
- Production Volume – Match the machine’s output capacity to your current and projected production needs.
- Coil Width – Most machines accommodate coil widths ranging from 800 up to 1250 mm. Choose appropriately.
- Forming Speed – Roll formers range from 15 to 100+ feet per minute line speed. Faster is better for high volume.
- Profile Versatility – Consider how easily the machine can switch between different roofing profiles with quick die changeovers.
- Secondary Operations – Integrated hole punching, notching, cutting, etc. allow finished parts off the line.
- Operating Costs – Efficient design = lower cost per panel produced. Look for energy savings.
- Automated Features – More automation = less labor needed = lower overall operating costs.
- Durability and Reliability – When running 24/7, robust construction is a must. Check warranties.
- Technical Support – Look for responsive after-sales service to resolve any issues promptly.
Carefully evaluating your production requirements and comparing specifications will help you select effective and economical metal roofing roll forming equipment.
Leading Manufacturers of Metal Roofing Roll Formers
Some of the top global manufacturers of specialized metal roofing roll forming equipment include:
- Samco Machinery (China) – Complete range of roll forming machines and turnkey production lines for metal roofing. Offer R&D, engineering, and customization services.
- Formtek Group (USA) – American company producing heavy-duty roofing roll formers up to 200 feet long and highly automated.
- LMG (Taiwan) – Well-known Taiwanese brand manufacturing versatile roll forming machines for over 50 years. Competitive pricing.
- Metform (Turkey) – Specialized supplier of metal roofing machines with patented technologies. Focus on turnkey solutions.
- Hangzhou Roll Forming Machinery (China) – Major roll forming equipment producer exporting worldwide. Offer complete customization.
- Botou Xianfa Roll Forming Machine Factory (China) – Budget-oriented manufacturer of standard and custom roll forming equipment.
For the best match between performance, price, and production needs, evaluate multiple suppliers before purchasing. Many will provide machine demonstrations and prototypes before delivery.
Innovations in Metal Roofing Roll Forming Technology
Like most industries, metal fabrication and roll forming machinery continues to evolve with new technologies and innovations:
- Quick-Change Tooling – Modular roll dies and components that enable rapid profile changes with no machine reconfiguration. Reduces downtime.
- Intelligent Controls – Sophisticated computer controls for automatic monitoring, feedback, diagnostics, and quality assurance during production.
- Inline Notching – Special notching heads built into the line for fast notch cutting without a secondary step. Great for standing seam panels.
- Servo-Powered Presses – Servo-electric powered punching and cutting presses for flexible, efficient hole punching and slit cutting on the fly.
- Pre-Coated Materials – Special non-stick coatings allow pre-painting metals prior to roll forming into finished colored panels.
- 3D Profile Forming – Advanced tooling designs enable roll forming of highly complex curved and dimensional panels in a single step.
- Laser Scanning – Inline laser scanning checks panel dimensions and quality and feeds back data to make automatic forming adjustments.
With a progressive roll forming machine employing the latest advances, metal roofing manufacturers can push efficiencies and capabilities to new levels.
Typical Costs of Metal Roofing Roll Forming Equipment
The costs of buying a new metal roofing roll forming line can range considerably depending on:
- Production Output – Higher capacity = larger machine = higher cost.
- Degree of Automation – More automated features add expense.
- Profile Complexity – Advanced 3D forming ability requires complex tooling.
- Line Length – Longer roll former length costs more.
- Brand Reputation – Leading international brands command higher prices.
- Customization Level – Fully customized machines are more expensive than standard models.
That said, as a general guideline, expect to invest $80,000 to $120,000 for a standard quality manually operated roll forming machine from most suppliers.
Higher-end European or American built automated roll formers with very fast line speeds and quick changeover abilities can cost $200,000 to $600,000+.
Purchasing used roll forming equipment can offer big cost savings. Just be careful to inspect condition and capabilities closely first.
Overall, an efficiently specified metal roofing roll former will pay for itself quickly in productivity gains and profits on orders produced.
Applications Beyond Metal Roofing
While optimized for producing ribbed metal roofing panels, roll forming machines are also very versatile for manufacturing:
- Metal wall and façade cladding
- Rain gutters and downspouts
- Trailer and truck body panels
- Agricultural building siding
- Solar panel frames
- Highway signage
- Garage and storage shelving
- HVAC ducting
- Metal furniture parts
- Window awnings
- Door skins
- Shelving parts
- Refrigeration housing
- Interior wall paneling
- Decorative accents
- Custom enclosures
And much more! With a quick die changeover, sheet metal parts with almost any cross-sectional profile required can be quickly mass produced.
Roll forming machines provide metal fabricators with an extremely efficient method for producing strong and aesthetically appealing metal roofing panels. The automated process creates products with ribbed profiles that outperform manual methods.
When purchasing a new or used roll former, focus on choosing equipment matched to your production scale, forming speed, coil width, profile needs, and automation level. Look for advanced quick-change features and intelligent forming controls on higher-end models.
With quality roll forming equipment, metal fabricators can reap the benefits of the growing demand for durable, energy efficient, and visually striking metal roofing on both residential and commercial buildings.
Frequently Asked Questions About Metal Roofing Roll Forming Machines
What thickness of metal sheet can be roll formed?
- Most roofing roll formers accommodate sheet thicknesses from 0.4 mm up to 1.5 mm. Some heavy-duty models can form steel up to 3 mm thick.
What size coils do the machines require?
- Common coil widths used are 800mm, 1000mm, and 1250mm. Lengths vary but 30 to 60 meters is typical. Some machines handle multiple coils.
How long does a roll forming machine last?
- With proper operation and maintenance, around 20 years of reliable production. Quality components prevent early wear.
What safety measures are important?
- Ensure safeguards like pinch point protection, emergency stops, marked hazards, and lockout/tagout. Provide staff training.
How quickly can roll dies be changed to switch profiles?
- On basic machines, several hours. With advanced quick-change systems, die changeovers take 30 minutes or less.