You are here: Products & Solutions / Simulation with FEA / Edition December/2008
Friday, August 14, 2020

Samco Machinery Ltd. shows the difference with COPRA® FEA RF

In earlier days the idea of risk mitigation or deadlines didn’t mean much. Take the Wright brothers for example, they had a dream and by-golly they were going to prove that it could become a reality. “For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man.” Wilber said; and on December 17, 1903 he bravely placed himself into his invention and traveled through the air for almost 60 seconds assisted by the power of the internal combustion engine and the Bernoulli principle. Risking life and limb he succeeded (where many had failed). The result was fantastic and changed world, but you have to admit it was pretty risky. I wonder what his wife thought about the whole thing.

Or take Thomas Edison, who persisted through literally thousands of iterations towards a working incandescent light bulb. He got there in the end, but it took an awful long time. I suppose he didnt have a “deadline”, but if he did, then you might very well be reading this article by candle light. 
Things are a little different today. We need to be able to identify and minimize risk as much as possible and produce real life working solutions inside of tight deadlines. New profiles are being developed as you read this and the race is on to get those ideas to market as useable materials for construction.
The need to differentiate your profile from what already exists is crucial to carving your own niche and building your brand. However, the process of going from a profile concept to a full mill setup can be a daunting prospect.
How can the costs and risks in the development of a profile be mitigated, and how can the process be done faster? Returning to our industrial pioneers, what do you think Wilber or Thomas would have to say if they were offered a computer program that could almost completely remove the cost and risk of real world product trials and accelerate the design process, all at the touch of a button? I think they would say “What is a computer?” but other than that objection they would think the idea was incredible.
Luckily for today’s innovative companies there is such technology, known as Dynamic Simulation Software. In essence dynamic simulation software is a powerful tool to help us understand what actually happens in real world circumstances when materials and forces interact with each other in dynamic processes.
For Wilber it would mean building the plane in a CAD program and then being able to analyze the true to life behaviors of what stresses and strains would do to the aircraft under different conditions, like being propelled by one propeller rather than two, or what if the structure of the frame was oak rather than spruce. Mr. Edison could have run an almost infinite number of tests to discover what temperatures a filament would be able to withstand, all on his computer monitor rather than his laboratory bench.
For the roll forming industry Dynamic Simulation Software means being able to understand the different stresses that will be induced into a material during each pass through a roll former and therefore being able to make the correct adjustments to the design of the roll, all without ever having to schlep one pound of steel onto the mill. It can all be done virtually in a sophisticated digital environment using a state of the art process known as Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
Simply stated FEA is a monster of a computer program that can crunch enormous amounts of data producing incredibly accurate understanding of the behavior of known materials (coil stock) in specified processes (roll forming). FEA is a program that can piggyback on the 3D designing software known as CAD. It does require advanced training to be used successfully but the benefits are realized as soon as the program is used. No more grind-setup-test-teardown-regrind-setup-test again with real rolls. FEA allows engineers to chase out edge wave, oil canning, flair or any other unwanted material characteristic even before a coil has been loaded or a roll mounted.

By virtually breaking the material into many many small parts (elements) and designating specific material properties (i.e. yield strength, thickness, composition) the computer program and the engineer running it are able to build a virtual mill and run a variety of different situations as test cases. The data that is produced is represented in animated 3D images and graphical data tables showing almost exactly where the material will be manipulated and to what result (elastic vs. plastic). Even being able to show where there are internal stresses induced. All of this is then used by the engineer to help analyze and redesign the rolls or stands or profile. It doesn’t end there though, the entire mill can be analyzed to help determine shaft diameter or even bed properties. 

Don’t get too excited now thinking that all you need to do is get the software and you are in the roll forming business. Like a lot of technology, FEA and Dynamic Simulation Software is a tool that complements an already existing deep understanding of roll forming, and is not a substitute for it. FEA is the technological future of effective roll form design. Currently it has only been adopted as a tool by the most progressive engineering groups, but in time it will become an industry norm. To actually go the distance and integrate the FEA technology into the engineering department of a roll form machine manufacturing company, it requires significant financial and human resources to be invested, not to mention a vigorous and profound desire to offer their customers nothing but the best. We like to think that Mr. Wright and Mr. Edison would have used Dynamic Simulation Software to help change the world, and that’s why Samco uses FEA as part of their People Promise to all their customers.

A case study:
As a roll former manufacturing company we get a lot of very technically demanding projects, the kind that others just won’t touch with a 10 foot pole. What follows is a real world example of how FEA saved the day.

Customer requirements:

  • Form 3 sizes of roof truss for NA market
  • 3 ½”, 5 ½” and 7 ¼” height
  • 12-20 gauge (1 mm to 2.75 mm)
  • NO roll changes allowed
  • NO manual gap changes… 1 gap only!
  • Unsymmetrical part
  • Can’t adjust ANYTHING manually
  • Can’t adjust inboard / outboard separately!

First attempt without FEA:

  • No repeatability
  • Too much “tweaking” along the way
  • Couldn't do the lighter gauges well
  • Too much TWIST
  • Too much FLARE
  • Unacceptable outcome

Second attempt using FEA:

  • Used COPRA® FEA RF
  • Utilized data M for consulting and guidance
  • Ran many simulations in FEA and found out a lot!
  • Material stretch was a major concern
  • Found that holding one rib was KEY during simulation
  • Proceeded to make new rolls

The final result: success!!!!
Using state of the art dynamic simulation software combined with the deep experience of a seasoned roll design engineer we were able to deliver what
most would claim can’t be done.

Author: Bob Repovs; President; Samco Machinery Ltd.;