Roll Forming Lubrication

Roll forming is a continuous metal forming process in which flat strips or sheets of metal are progressively bent into a desired cross-section profile using a series of metal rollers. Quite often sheet metal roll forming processes also include punching and cut-off operations. Examples of common products that are roll-formed include metal studs, siding and flashing products, garage doors and tracks, and interior drop-in ceiling track systems.

Capital investment into roll forming equipment and tooling is substantial, and this equipment must function well for long periods of time with consistent forming results. Consistent application of lubricant to roll forming stock keeps the process running smoothly and efficiently.

Why is Lubrication Important in Metal Roll Forming?

Throughout the bending process, the rolling and sliding friction between the material and the metal forming rollers generates heat, which can shorten the life of the rollers and cause an increase in scrap. The purpose of lubrication is to reduce both friction and heat because worn-out tooling is expensive to repair or replace and poor part quality leads to expensive waste.

The roll forming line also depends on specific operating conditions to maintain consistently formed profiles. This means the level of lubrication must be maintained at all times for a stable process. For secondary operations such as cutoff and punching, adequate lubrication protects tools and prolongs their life.

Consistency is the Key

For many roll-formed jobs, a consistent and even coat of lubricant to the top and bottom of the stock material will provide adequate protection of tooling and rolls, and will provide the process stability by means of constant lubrication amounts. This can also help with downstream processing of parts; whether they need to be washed for a secondary coating process or left with the lubricant on for storage, a consistent and even coating of fluid is ideal.

Best Way to Apply Roll Forming Lubricants

A roll coater application method, which can easily be integrated into either coil or blank fed lines, will provide the most consistent coating of lubricant to the material. When fluid is delivered to the roll coater with a programmable fluid controller, the fluid film thickness can be accurately targeted and delivered with consistency to meet job requirements.

Different jobs can be set up to run with different amounts of lubricant, even accommodating any punch tooling or a flying cut-off tool with supplemental lubrication nozzles at those points. These solutions will work with either water-miscible fluids or neat oils. Better coverage, less fluid usage, and cleaner machines and shops are all possible with the right metal roller lubricant application systems for coil or sheet metal roll forming machine lines.

The Unist Uni-Roller® S2 family of products is well suited for this task. For coil fed lines a Uni-Roller® S2 can accommodate material widths up to over 70” wide and thickness of up to a quarter of an inch. For lighter duty applications, the Mini-Roller can coat material up to 6” wide that is less than .060” thick. For blank fed lines a powered Uni-Roller® S2 can be used to propel the material down the line as it is lubricated.

All Uni-Roller® products feature internally supplied rollers that provide more consistent coating coverage across the coil than an externally fed roller. When any of these applicators are paired with a SmartFlow® programmable fluid controller, roll formers can take full advantage of the benefits consistent lubrication application will bring.