Roll Forming Vs. Extruded Aluminum

Q: I am considering extruded aluminum for component parts or assemblies.  Are there ways to determine if another technology, such as roll forming, could deliver better results?

A:  Roll forming is a leaner, more “material-efficient” process for component parts and many assemblies.

  • The roll form tooling is more cost-effective where volumes are high (thousands of feet or parts). Roll forming is a faster process producing a greater amount of feet per hour and, subsequently, more parts per pound of raw material.
  • Factors favoring extruded aluminum include the flexibility to add slots and openings in a part during manufacturing. With roll formed parts, this is performed in a secondary post-process.
  • The dies for extruded aluminum are less expensive to manufacture. These dies are a single piece of metal and fabrication is simplified.  Roll forming involves an intricate die, and several passes of the material, to form the desired shape. The rolls and dies used in roll forming are more expensive than those used with extruded aluminum.
  • Extruded aluminum, because it has more material, will have an advantage when considering the comparative strength vs. a roll formed aluminum part. However, to enhance the functionality of the finished part, roll forming allows you to select the properties in a wide range of  available materials, some of which are listed below:
    • Steel
    • Galvanized Steel
    • Painted Steel
    • Plated Steel
    • Stainless Steel
    • Copper
    • Brass

Please view press brake and metal stamping for additional samples.