You are here: Products & Solutions / Roll Forming / Edition January/2008
Friday, January 22, 2021

Corus Bausysteme GmbH, Germany / Koblenz

Innovative data M software solution helps create new product range... standing seam profiles

In its new manufacturing process for free-form standing seam profiles called Kalzip XT, Corus Bausysteme GmbH based in Koblenz developed an entirely new roll forming technology that enables it to fabricate profiles of virtually any geometry. The complex and innovative roll forming concept is controlled and supported by software from data M.

Development center for roll forming technology in Koblenz

Corus is an international operation, and one of the world’s leading steel producers. 50,000 people work for the company in more than 40 countries. Part of the Distribution and Building Systems division is the Kalzip business unit headquartered in Koblenz. Here it operates under the name Corus Bausysteme GmbH, producing aluminum roof and façade cladding systems of the Kalzip trademark. Kalzip came onto the market as a further development of conventional standing seam methods. It is a U-shaped element with two differently sized flanges and a zip to attach the elements to a roof for example. The special advantages of the system are its non-penetrative attachment from beneath, the possibility of endless fabrication of the profiles, the formability and durability of the material, and low weight. No wonder, therefore, that more than 75 million sqm of Kalzip profile cladding have been laid since its introduction some 40 years ago.

The center for roll forming technology in Koblenz not only develops Kalzip profiles. The entire team is also responsible for producing stationary and mobile roll formers that are in use worldwide. Koblenz has consequently become a competence center for the entire field of roll forming within the corporate group. In the early 1990s a department was set up in which roll forming machines and systems are developed and built and shipped to all
Kalzip sites in Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, China, the USA and Australia. Here the new XT roof and façade cladding system was also developed.

From Kalzip to XT and free-form profiles
Roll formed roof and wall elements have been attached to buildings – usually commercial – for decades already as weather protection and constructional elements. The profiles used to date were primarily trapezoidal and wave-shaped. More than 50 years ago the first objects using standing seam methods were created, working with zinc for the most part.

Industrialized standing seam technology and patented Kalzip marked a new milestone in the development of profile engineering. Initially only straight, parallel roof tracks could be produced. But at the beginning of the 1980s the company in Koblenz registered a patent for the fabrication of conical roofing tracks. To enable these roof elements to be shaped on site, a transportable roll former was constructed, the first of its kind. As Kalzip technology continued to develop, impressive and famous buildings soon emerged, such as Manchester Airport and the stadium in Mecca.

Architects were looking for even more attractive and appealing roof and façade constructions however. They wanted to use the Kalzip standing seam system for the new development center of automaker Audi in Ingolstadt for instance, but the result had to be rounded. Corus was able to satisfy the requirement through an even more sophisticated profile shaping technology, and thus achieved, in 1986 already, aesthetic transitions from roof to parts of the façade with rounded forms. Following this, the engineers in Koblenz optimizedthe forming possibilities of profiles in entirely new dimensions.

They continuously improved ways of bending the U-shaped roof elements in different radiuses, also convex and concave. These radiuses became increasingly small, without bumps or deformation on the surface of course. In the meantime, by an innovative bending process, Corus is able to produce bent Kalzip with a radius of less than one meter. But despite the numerous revolutionary advances and innovative developments, it was still not possible to fully satisfy the demanding design ideas of the architects. The decisive architectural challenge was to create a roof and façade cladding system that completely enclosed the shell of a building.

Corus consequently developed its XT technology, giving the company a unique selling position. In order to continuously form the elements with altering cross-section, the team of H.-J. Döhren, director of innovation / technology Kalzip systems, had to devise an entirely new and flexible roll former concept focused on a huge increase in the number of forming possibilities.

The XT roll former in practise

The XT roll former for free profile shaping is a truly impressive system. In a first step the plates are cut to shape in a pre-cutting unit with two heads. The solution necessary to control the cutter is of similar complexity to that for the roll forming. For the XT process there are a number of flexible rigs operating in series. A major feature is the use of socalled flying shafts. Shaping rolls are attached to each side of a rig according to the profile geometry. In production this means that the plates pass through the roll former twice – once right and once left. A total of 50 motors are needed to drive the highly complex process, which obviously places extremely high demands on the entire control and supporting electronics.

“Even if we’d had the idea for such a complex roll forming process earlier, it wouldn’t have materialized because of the modest performance of the computers that were available“, admits manufacturing specialist Döhren. It would not have been possible, by computer, to permanently calculate the driving of 36 axles.

Control software from data M
In the course of devising and developing their XT technology, the Corus specialists were faced with the task of finding control software to drive the whole thing.

“We knew that data M, in its printing software for the ceramics industry, had a system that was already capable of driving a number of axes“, recalls Döhren. Corus consequently contacted data M in 2004 with a proposal to cooperate on the XT project.

data M developed the entire control of the high-precision motion drive technology. It runs from a PC under the Windows operating system, which meant good price/performance right from the start. The operator interface is fully separate from the basic control and thus allows custom and application-specific matching with programming tools like Visual Basic and C++. Extra features of the solution are the open PC technology, the Ethernet communication module with TCP/IP protocol, the compactness of the control, telediagnostics on the Internet plus the PLC interface.

Closed process chain
The data M software solution made it possible to implement a closed process chain from the architectural concept through to the ready XT element on a roof or façade. In a first step, coordinating with the architect, the geometry of the roof or façade tracks is calculated. The result is a specification, for the performance of which the installing companies, in most cases subcontractors, compete. In a following step, together with the installing company, the track contours are defined, meaning 3D development and design by Corus. With many an object it may be necessary to draw and design each track singly. Subsequently the 3D data – within this modern CAM concept – are read into the roll forming machine. Considerable optimization of the design process results from the use of Flex Control simulation tools for flexible roll forming. The precise shaping pattern can be simulated onscreen during the roll forming process.

In many cases the flexible profiles cannot be fabricated in the Kalzip works but are produced instead on the spot at the building site. For this purpose Corus developed a mobile roll former, loadable as a container, that can be put into service nationally or internationally.

Impressive architecture
Architects have created unparalleled roof and façade constructionsusing XT technology thanks to the engineers in Koblenz. A total of 35,000 sqm of roofing was put in place on the exhibition hall 3 in Frankfurt for example. What is impressive here is the fact that the individual roof segments repeat but no track is the same within them. A unique solution was also created for the main building of the BMW plant in Leipzig, which took the German
Architecture Prize 2005. This building called for a 3D continuation of the standing seam system, for which Döhren’s team generated 20 three-dimensional models of the different segments to produce the rounded curves. 9200 sqm of presuspended and back-ventilated metal façade were used, 3700 sqm of it convex/concave and 750 sqm in XT technology. The continuation of the standing seam elements is vertical, horizontal and diagonal, with radiuses across several arcs as well as with curving tracks.

“With XT technology based on data M software we’ve created a system that’s unique worldwide for precision and variety of application“, enthuses Döhren.

He emphasizes in particular the innovative solution for the application from data M, with special advantages such as 36-axle driving, flexible and straightforward data transfer from AutoCAD design programs, fast data generation, simple entry of data into the CAM process plus simulation possibilities.

His conclusion: “Without the control software developed by data M there’d be no XT technology today.“

Flexible Roll Forming

Producing discontinuous roll formed profiles

data M Software offers you a new method for fabricating stress-matching profiles.

Cold rolled profiles are used in many engineering branches, especially in the production of automobiles or industrial plant. There are a whole number of possible fields of application for profiles with cross-sections that alter along their length. The question is: “Can these profiles be manufactured on roll forming lines?

data M has investigated such questions for a number of years as part of R&D projects, and was able to answer “Yes“ at its recent user conference, accompanied by papers and product presentations, that was staged on the summit of the Wendelstein.

Flexible roll forming presents advantages compared to deep drawing
Compared to other processes like deep drawing, this roll forming solution offers a high level of flexibility and calls for low investment. It is possible to fabricate whole profile ranges on a single plant because it is an NC-controlled forming process.

“Until quite recently you couldn’t economically fabricate these profiles with a cross-section varying with length because you didn’t have the process for it“, attests Andreas Bachthaler of data M Engineering. But adds, “Now we’ve come up with a sophisticated solution in our flexible roll forming stand.“

When it comes to profile design, data M’s flexible roll former offers many new possibilities, for automakers and their suppliers as well as in the construction industry. Many a deep drawn part can be roll formed – alone through the flexibility, which means a dramatic cut in tool costs. The Flex Form system is striking in its compactness. It offers two motion axes, a translatory and a rotary one, working in synchronism.

But it is still possible to drive both directions with different speed. Flex Form is not only suitable for new machines, it is also a straightforward retrofit for existing plant. Its simple and rugged construction makes the system virtually maintenance-free. The socalled bipod concept, similar to a tripod or hexapod, produces the appropriate operative motion.

Flexible roll forming from a single source

data M Software + Engineering offers practical support in developing and introducing this forming process, together with all the necessary mechanical and electronic components.

  1. Development of the process and its validation by finite element simulation (feasibility study). This is especially important for determining the tolerances that are later achieved.
  2. Planning and implementation of the required mechanical components (e.g. flexible stand).
  3. Delivery of the complete CNC control including graphical programming and collision control.

European PROFORM project creates flexible roll forming plant for automobile industry
As part of the PROFORM project (“An innovative manufacturing process concept for flexible and cost-effective production of the vehicle body in white - profile forming“) – financially promoted by the European Commission in its 6th framework program with priority 3 – a flexible, computer-controlled roll forming system, complete with laser technology and electromagnetic forming, is being created. The project is being conducted by 24 partners (including data M) from six European nations with a budget of more than 10 million euros.

For more information visit or contact us