How to Buy the Right Type of Roll Forming Lines

When your company is seeking to purchase a roll forming production line, there are two very distinct types of roll forming equipment in the market today. There is the type which is designed for lightweight, mobile use at the work site (refer to as “WORK SITE” equipment) and the type which is in-house, heavy duty, bolted-to-a-concrete-floor, non-portable (refer to as “IN-PLANT” equipment).

Since both types of roll forming production line have their place in the market — do you know which one is right for your company?


  1. 1
    Determine the annual lineal footage of product you require. For example, if you are a contractor and need 92,000 lineal feet of a product per year, then you should probably be looking at the WORK SITE equipment line for the maximum value – even if it is installed in a factory. The cost ratio of capital equipment to the number of lineal feet dictates that the purchase price of the equipment be at a very low cost level. – otherwise, each foot of the rollformed product might end up costing you $2,000 per foot for example. And if your annual volume is 92,000 lineal per 8-hour shift, then you will need a high speed IN-PLANT line that can run 300-500 fpm.
  2. 2
    Know what your Maximum Product Length needs to be. Many architectural products today are designed to be seamless and of one continuous piece rather than assembled end-to-end in segments. If your company will be involved in making seamless products in lengths of 80–120 foot (24.4–36.6 m) spans, then you ought to be considering the WORK SITE equipment. Although IN-PLANT lines could theoretically produce equally long segments of product, generally it is the maximum length of the truckload at 55–57 feet (16.8–17.4 m) that restricts the length of product rollformed in the factory.
  3. 3
    Investigate Line Speed. Many products today are pushing the manufacturing limits to new heights in the line speeds in which they operate. Cornerbead lines or steel stud and track lines can operate at speeds in excess of 500 fpm. If your goal is to have a high speed line for your company, then you can probably expect to bolt your IN-PLANT equipment to the concrete floor to attain those production rates. Most WORK SITE rollforming lines operate less than 50 fpm as they were not designed for this type of application.
  4. 4
    Find out Coil Size and Cost. Most IN-PLANT roll forming lines will provide an industrial level uncoiler which can hold a standard coil weighing in a 4,000-lbs, or 6,000-lbs – depending on the product – with a coil Inside Diameter of 20-inches and an Outside Diameter of 60-inches or 72-inches. And the company which sells you the coil will have a standard price per lb for this material (i.e. $0.40/lb). Most WORK SITE rollforming lines cannot support these type of coil weights or sizes; and many customers are shocked to find that the small “pup” coil (1,000-3,000-lbs) which must travel to the site ends up costing 40-80% more (i.e. $0.69/lb) for material because of the surcharge that many steel service centers will apply for their additional labor of creating these smaller coils.


  • Evaluate the needs of your company with an eye to the future of where you want to grow your business. Consider the speeds, the volumes, the liabilities and the costs.

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Categories: Work World