by: Ron Schell, Service Manager at New Tech Machinery and Tom Laird, Sales Manager at New Tech Machinery – The world of metal roofing is dominated by rollformers.  Metal rollforming machines incorporate a progression of forming rollers or tooling sets to form many different standing seam roofing profiles used in the metal roofing industry.They can utilize a variety of materials such as painted steel, painted aluminum, copper, and/or zinc in this process.
A dedicated consumer will discover the right fit of equipment by doing research and shopping around to compare rollforming machines.  A few key points to consider regarding rollforming machines are: quality, cost, panel profile production, warranty and service provided.  Quality is a very most important factor when choosing a rollformer as the machine will be an integral part of business.
When shopping for a machine, there are two specific and distinct types of rollforming machines: in-factory and portable.  It is important to keep in mind that two types of rollforming machines have many differences and vary greatly in features and cost.
Primarily, in-plant rollformers tend to be larger, faster machines utilized for high production rates. On-site rollformers, also known as portable rollformers, are smaller for easier transportation and tend to be more versatile in their ability to produce several different types of panel profiles.
Portable rollforming machines also have an impact on transportation costs as they save on packaging and initial freight costs while giving the contractor the ability to reduce lead-times compared to the hassle of ordering factory-formed panels.  Plus, on-site panel fabrication eliminates shipping damage to panels, sizing errors, short shipments and lost time due to any on-the-job changes.  Also, portable rollformers can produce any panel length required on-site as they are not constrained by shipping restrictions.
Since a rollformer is such a large investment, some contractors may need financing and there are many companies that specifically work with equipment financing.  Machine manufacturers can often refer clients to a reputable equipment financier.
As with any industry, rollforming is always evolving and introducing new technology.  Engineers are constantly working on new profiles and high-quality functioning parts that make the machines more user-friendly.  Portable rollforming machinery is much more advanced today—utilizing state-of-the-art technology that can consistently produce a high-quality panel that can compete with any in-factory roll-forming machine. Portable rollformers can deliver a precisely cut product more quickly and with little to no waste.
Many rollformers today feature computer controllers and consistent advancements of that technology and software allows customers more options and benefits than ever before.  Some offer batch/length control, proximity sensors, multiple-length memory storage, and even features that recognize coil color for ultimate user-friendly settings.
The overall benefits of metal roofing are becoming more widely known and accepted due to several factors including: environmentally friendly material, long-lasting lifespan of metal roofing and aesthetic appeal.  As the metal rollforming industry continues to gain market share, investing in portable rollforming equipment will enable contractors to cut costs, better meet customer demands by decreasing lead-times and gain production and quality control with all their projects.