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Rolling sheet steel

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  • Rolling sheet steel

    newbie here..
    I want to roll some 1/8" sheet steel ( mild and 304 stainless). 18" by 16" in dia. tube.
    What do I need, and what is it called?

  • #2
    Many sheet metal shops can do it for you but the 1/8" SS will be hard to bend and require a heavy duty roller to do it. A shop could cut them and bend them faster, easier and bettter looking than you can at home.
    It's only ink and paper


    • #3
      Slip rolls


      • #4
        the tool is called a sheet metal roll.

        For thinner sheet, there are manual rolls, like these-

        this is a set of 36" wide, Tennsmith rolls that are rated at 22 gage (.031", or approximately 1/32") at full width rolling.

        But for 1/8", and especially for 1/8" stainless, you need power rolls.

        I have a set of 12 gage power rolls, which weigh about 1500lbs, use a 3 hp 3 phase motor, and cost new over 5 grand, almost ten years ago- and they are really too small for 1/8" stainless, although I do use them for that occasionally.

        48" wide x 12 gage rolls- as you can see, they are not small. This is a Turkish machine, of decent but not stellar quality. Expect to pay $15,000 to $25,000 new for an american machine.
        This link is to new, but relatively cheap, import machines-
        They have a 4' x 1/4" machine on sale for $12,600 right now, which would do your job, assuming its no wider than 4 feet.

        For stainless steel, the rule of thumb is to derate the machine by 2 gages- 1/8" is 11 gage, so you would need a 9 gage roll to do the stainless, which doesnt really exist, but most machines that would do this comfortably are going to be rated at 3/16"

        So unless you are planning on doing this on an ongoing basis, and there is a paying job involved, its highly unlikely you will want to buy a roll to do this.

        I would second the idea of finding a local sheet metal shop and paying them to do it.


        • #5
          Telling me to get someone who has the equipment and the experience is just why I asked.
          I wish it were easier to do (and do correctly)
          More machinery to think about......later


          • #6
            Rolling 10 ga material will take a big $ slip roll.

            If you can be content with a `ripple form`, you can do it in a series of flats done in a press brake. The closer together the creases are, the closer the approximation to round will be.
            Design to 0.0001", measure to 1/32", cut with an axe, grind to fit


            • #7
              While sheet metal shops might be able to roll the stainless, you might have to look for shops that call themselves "fabrication shops." These shops often have heavier equipment than sheet metal shops; the one near me could make a full-size steam locomotive boiler if needed. Their slip roll could take a VW Beetle and make it look like a corn chip.


              • #8
                Yes, they are called slip rolls. If you are a burly man, you could roll it by hand with a lot of mechanical advantage.

                Have you considered doing say a quantity of 6, 3" pieces, stacking them end to end then welding? Or does the application not allow it?

                I ask because rolling a 3" by 1/8" thick piece is a lot easier than rolling a 18". You could get away with just simple 2" rolls, and do it by hand. It is still a pain in the butt, but it is very doable...and making a small slip roll isn't all that difficult. All you need are a few gears and some scrap steel.


                • #9
                  Generally speaking, "slip rolls" are the hand operated ones- which usually top out at 16 gage.

                  Above that, they call em "plate rolls" most of the time.

                  My neighborhood sheet metal shop, down the road a piece, has rolls ranging from 16 gage to 1 1/2" plate x 12 feet. That one is so big, its outside, with its own little building. The whole building is on wheels, and rolls out of the way when they want to use the machine.


                  • #10
                    I could be totally wrong about this---but---I always believed that "slip rolls" indicated that one end of the rollers could be set tighter than the other end, and consequently allow one end of the sheet metal being rolled to "slip" a little, thus allowing you to roll a cone. This may be limited to smaller, hand powered sheet metal rollers. I don't think any of the large heavy, motorized plate rolls allow you to do this. I know that any fabricated heavy platework cones I have seen used in industry are generally "step broke" to give the conical effect, and are generally fabricated in 4 pieces, then welded together.---Brian
                    Brian Rupnow
                    Design engineer
                    Barrie, Ontario, Canada


                    • #11
                      I have been researching wood gasifiers for the last few years. Then I ran into this....


                      which lead me to this


                      You have to read it slowly as the guy doesn't waste any words.

                      So this my next "must build" project. I've done the research on castable refractory, the sheet metal working is next.

                      The temps involved demand stainless and/or refractory. The idea of forming and welding smaller pieces would work.


                      • #12
                        Buy a piece of pipe at the scrapyard.

                        If your goal is to build a gasifier, getting sidetracked re-inventing the wheel by building your own tubing is only going to delay you.

                        The design you link to hasnt even been built, as far as I can tell. It may, or may not, work, and it seems like the way to try it is to build cheap prototypes, using found metals.
                        My local scrapyards almost always have pipe, both steel and stainless, in odd sizes and shapes, pretty cheap.

                        If you roll metal for a living, rolls are great. But to build one gasifier, or even a few, it seems like not worth the trouble.

                        By the way- do you know about these guys?

                        their main focus is cooking stoves, but they use many of the same principles, and they have actually built, and tested, hundreds of designs. Their knowledge of working reality is second to none, in small scale, cheap, easily built stoves. Since their main goal is to reduce fuel consumption, to avoid things like the deforestation of Haiti, a lot of their goals are actually very similar to yours.


                        • #13
                          About "slip rolls"-

                          I am often wrong too- but the way I understand it, almost every roll can roll a cone- that is done by adjusting the left and right sides to different gaps.

                          The "Slip" designation usually means the top roll will open up, as opposed to fixed rolls, where all three rolls are fixed in place.

                          I used to own a set of rolls from about 1900, and you could not open the top roll, so you had a harder time releasing complete cylinders from them.
                          At that time, the opening top roll was optional, at extra cost, while nowadays, most rolls come with it as standard.
                          But larger, plate rolls, have it more rarely than smaller, gage weight rolls.

                          So I think I was wrong about the distinction being hand/versus/power- instead, its top opening versus fixed.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the link - I have not heard of them.

                            Looks like rolling is best done by someone else - I suspected that but thought whom better to ask.

                            My other interest is sterling engines. Hopefully something 1-5 hp


                            • #15

                              As a last resort... you can do this:

                              Get yourself a piece of rail to use as an anvil and with at least a 3 lb. hammer, start pounding the surface of the plate in rows. This will stretch one side of the metal and you'll soon notice that the plate will start curling upward. The more hammer blows made, the more it will bend. Remember that you are using the hammer and anvil to stretch the metal, not bend the metal against the rail. Using this method, one can get 1/8" thick by 18" width metal plate rolled into a 12" diameter fairly easily.

                              The texture of the metal will be "mottled" but still nice looking. Perhaps you can try this on a piece of scrap and see if it will work for you.
                              Last edited by Mike Burdick; 02-10-2010, 09:10 PM.