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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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Flexible Rollforming (3D-Rollforming)

The economical plus the constructional advantages of using lightweight profiles are certainly known to us, the continuous and flexible roll forming process virtually multiplies the advantages.

Development of Flexible Rollforming


About ten years ago we saw the development of what is called “flexible rollforming” (also called 3D-Rollforming), by which a new kind of adjustable roll stand also makes it possible to produce cross-sections that are discontinuous on the longitudinal axis.

The first generation of this kind of equipment was born of ideas by Prof. Schmoeckel, Prof. Groche and Dr. Istrate of the PtU (Institute for Production Engineering and Forming Machines) in Darmstadt, Germany. data M contributed its own ideas to this development, creating and delivering the adaptive motion control COPRA® AMC.

Another project at the PtU focused on the generation of tailored blanks for the hydroforming processes. In particular, when using ultra-highstrength sheet metal, the failure limit of the material, which can no longer be so easily formed, may sometimes be reached very fast. Flexible rollforming enables the production of blanks that are already contoured close to the finished result by an effective process that is also highly suitable for ultra-high-strength steel.

Development of this technology took a major step forwards in an intergrated European R&D project "Proform", in which 22 European partners were involved (including FIAT and Daimler).

Here too, data M Sheet Metal Solutions conceived, developed and delivered the entire COPRA® AMC control for up to 256 flexible axes for an experimental installation built by a consortium. The project, ending in October 2010, was aimed at investigating the fundamental suitability of the flexible rollforming process for the manufacture of automobile components with discontinuous cross sections (3D profiles) from the bodywork, and verifying this on a demonstration installation.The project was successful, delivering evidence of the sought capability.

Based on expertise gained from active participation in the above-mentioned and other internal and industrial projects,the engineers of data M Sheet Metal Solutions proceeded to develop the second generation flexible rollforming line with improved components. After trialling and demonstration this was sold to one of the world’s biggest steel producers as a prototyping plant in June 2010.

Videos of the Second Generation Line

Advantages of Flexible Rollforming

Both suppliers and machine manufacturers to the automobile industry still lack expertise and experience in this new 3D-rollforming technology, which is why investment by industry has been hesitant for a few years now, although the advantages of the new technology are fairly obvious:

  • More flexibility than press formed or stamped parts (each needing an extra tool) and greater variety of form (e.g. closed profile forms).
  • Cost benefits through continuous production.
  • Fabrication of complete part families on a single installation.
  • Better formability of high-strength and ultrahigh- strength steel as well as aluminium, etc.

In addition to several industrial feasibility and prototyping projects, data M SMS has been working on a larger industrial application of this promising technology giving advantages to industry.

The new process also makes it possible to fabricate so called load-optimised profiles, i.e. with profile cross-sections optimally matched to their particular load. On the structural parts of automobile sand trucks, such as cross and main members,that can mean a weight saving of more than 20 percent, which other technologies can often only achieve through much more effort and expense.

The economical and ecological effects are also very respectable. Assuming a vehicle drives 100,000 km, the total saving is 4 litres of fuel per kg saved (Based on: saving of 0.4 liters / 100 km per saved 100 kg). That is not only economically but environmentally sound.

Especially worth mentioning about this new process is that it is very cost effective and economical in terms of tangible benefits produced by money spent, giving vast savings in the long run. Given the high flexibility of the process combined with the effectiveness of rollforming, whole assemblies and similar part families can be produced on a single rollforming line.

Our Offer to You:

data M SMS is your partner for any industrial realisation of this technology! We offer our customers efficient and competent services for implementing the entire process chain of roll forming flexible cross-sections from their calculation and design through to the creation of a complete industrial plant. Intelligent control, reliable simulation and patented process engineering are essential for controlled roll forming operations of sheet metal strip.

Our services comprise the following:

  • Generation of a feasibility study.
  • Devising of a (partly) new machine and rollforming concept.
  • Planning of the industrial plant and either delivery of the complete industrial plant to the end-user as a general contractor, or
  • Consulting of individually selected machine manufacturers to produce the plant(s) for selected end-users.
data M‘s Integrated Aproach