Trends and Developments
Where is the development of rolling heading?
Rolling companies operate in a fiercely competitive market and under high cost pressures. They are confronted with steadily rising energy costs, rising laboratory costs in research and development and fluctuating prices for the raw materials. Investment costs for equipping rolling mills are the highest, when compared to other classic metal forming processes. Only a high degree of automation in the rolling process chain guarantees high margins.
This factor plays a considerable role in the future development of rolling technology when put together with demands for the economical use of resources. Driven by the automotive industry, one of the essential design principles is lightweight construction. Lightweight construction can be obtained through the use of better materials, the realization of optimized, complex forms (special profiles), or the integration of additional functions.
However, the forming of high-strength or super high-strength steels by rolling remains a challenge because of the stiffness as well as the occurring spring back.
An example of the future development of rolling technology are tailored rolled blanks that are produced by flexible rolling. The roll-gap is adjusted during the process, resulting in a semifinished product with different thicknesses. The process design of tailored rolled blanks implies new challenges and developments for rolling technology.
Rolling mills are forced to confront these challenges and to develop and apply new approaches in their engineering environment.