Buildings of the future will be constructed principally of concrete and metal. Steel is a particularly valuable material for both framing and cladding walls and roofs. Houses made of steel are quick to erect and easy to insulate, are both cost effective and lend themselves to a variety of designs, and are the most earthquake-resistant. Steel's versatility is allowing architects and designers to let their imaginations take wing, and roll forming is the most efficient method for shaping steel and other metals. Sheet metal is transformed by the roll form process into studs and purlins for framing, into panels for cladding and roofing, and into insulation. Roll forming is a technique for taking coils of sheet metal and bending the material into a variety of profiles. Roll forming requires little labor, can be integrated into a system of automatic processes such as bending, perforating, and joining, and lends itself to round the clock operation. Roll forming products for the pre-engineered building presents significant challenges for manufacturers.
The metal building industry has changed dramatically in the past few years. Builders demand better quality materials, faster lead times, and more economical prices. Prepainted materials have largely replaced postpainting framing, and galvanized metal is being employed more frequently, particularly in areas near the ocean and in agricultural applications. High strength steel is being used increasingly, profile and punching specifications are becoming more exacting, and product types are becoming increasingly complex. Roll form system manufacturers have responded with machines which are easier and more flexible to operate, can manufacture a wide range of products, are faster and more productive, as well as more economical. For example, coil handling equipment now enables the manufacturer to quickly switch coils to a different gauge or material.
This is a response to the fact that jobs now require producing a complete building rather than rolling long runs of the same component. The modern roll form machine is designed to quickly switch profiles from cee to zee, from single to double slope eave struts, to different flange and web sizes, and to different material gauges, in order to fulfill one particular customer's order. For example, the Purlinmaster roll former can switch from a 4" cee purlin to a 16" zee purlin in seven seconds, simply by touching a button on the fully automated console. It is possible to produce eave struts inline with either a single or double slope configuration, which eliminates the necessity of offline bending. Modern computer technology has also made perforating an exact science. The Punch Anywhere press system, for example, can be programmed from Autocad drawing files to hydraulically punch custom hole patterns anywhere on the strip - flange or web.