Automotive insights The future of roll forming is 3D - A pioneering technique where strength is not a limit


A pioneering technique where strength is not a limit

In 2001, a small Swedish company pioneered the world’s first 3D roll forming technology and helped to push innovation in the automotive industry to new heights.

Ortic has developed machines and technology for the roll forming of sheet steel for over 30 years. About 15 years ago, after being mainly driven by 2D roll forming, the company identified the opportunities offered by increasingly stronger grades of steel. They developed new technology, now called 3D roll forming, which lends itself especially well to the automotive industry.

2D vs. 3D

With traditional roll forming (2D), the sheet metal passes through a series of roll stands that successively change flat sheets to the final required shape. The shape of the profile is the same throughout its length. The new technology for advanced dynamic roll forming (3D) means that the incoming sheet passes a number of individually mobile computer-controlled roll stands that allow the finished profile to vary along its length. By making it possible to curve the profile along its length while roll forming is in progress, the possibilities for new and improved automotive components are much greater than before.

An important method for the auto industry

One of the reasons that the method is so valuable for automotive manufacturers is that machines like Ortic’s are designed to be used with cold forming steel at very high strength levels. In fact, the higher the strength of the steel the more suitable it is for roll forming. Currently, Ortic has successfully 3D roll formed Docol® 1500, from SSAB, at 1.5 mm.

According to Johan Eriksson, Ortic CEO, ”we do not see strength as a limit and are looking forward to even higher strength materials for our 3D roll former.” One of the advantages in using such high strength steel for 3D roll forming is that the material’s properties are more equalized, which allows for the same result every time, in a single step. 3D roll forming is an alternative to the most common types of hot or cold forming pressing, as it is more flexible and cost efficient.

Another advantage is that the process is environmentally friendly since the material is formed in cold conditions without the need for new tooling for each profile. As the automotive industry continues to use stronger materials to reduce the weight of components, the roll of 3D roll forming will become increasingly important.


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