Mechanically, roll forming hasn’t changed much over the years.
What were once hand-cranked machines making simple architectural shapes have since evolved into high-speed monsters capable of ripping out over five miles per hour of complex and precision products. Despite this, the basic process remains the same: it’s still just a bunch of rollers bending metal. What’s different, says George Dobrev, is all the stuff you can do while that bending takes place. “Roll forming has seen considerable advancement in the past two decades.”
He should know. Twenty-two years ago, Dobrev left his hometown of Sophia, Bulgaria, with a degree in industrial engineering. He moved to Canada and has been in the roll forming business ever since. His company, Roll Forming Services, Markham, ON, is the Toys R Us of roll forming, offering new equipment, tooling and software, coilers and consulting. “You name it. We do practically everything.”
Dobrev says while the roll forming industry is sophisticated, it remains a practical business at heart. “It’s basically about adding value.” This means shops today do a lot more than transforming metal into new shapes. In fact, the whole system of modern roll forming is focused on combining as many operations as possible into one continuous process.
This requires incorporating what were once secondary operations into the roll forming process itself. Roll Forming Services supports this endeavour through system integration, connecting auxiliary equipment to standard roll forming lines to create custom solutions. Inline piercing, punching, and even welding operations are now routine. “That’s the real advancement,” Dobrev says. “It’s increasingly feasible to go from coil to finished product in one step.”
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