Types of Metal Rollers and How They’re Used


Metal rollers are an important part of every machine shop. Metal rollers, also called sheet metal rollers or metal roller benders, can create a wide array of arcs, bends, cylinders and circular objects. This equipment is also an important part of custom material fabrication. Which type of metal roller is best for your project depends on the dimensions and type of metal you’re working with. Let’s take a look at the types of metal rollers available and how they’re used.

Types of Metal Rollers and How They’re Used

Types of metal rollers can be divided into 2-cylinder, 3-cylinder, and 4-cylinder rollers. Each machine may also be equipped with additional features to make particular constructions faster or easier. Different metal rollers may be preferable for different jobs depending on the overall size of the object, circular vs conical rolls, the type of metal, and other factors.

2-Cylinder Metal Rollers

As the name implies, 2-cylinder metal rollers use two rollers to curve sheet metal into a desired shape. One large roller coated in urethane and another, smaller steel roller applies force to sheet metal to create an arc or curve. 2-cylinder metal rollers are ideal for smaller projects with thinner metals. These machines operate fairly quickly, so they’re capable of producing numerous components in a short time frame.

2-cylinder metal rollers might be used for:

  • Filters
  • Canisters
  • Pipes
  • Tubes

3-Cylinder Metal Rollers

3-cylinder metal rollers are similar to 2-cylinder rollers, however a third, off-set roll creates additional bending power. This type of sheet metal roller is often used for sheet metal thinner than an inch thick, though they can handle thicker metals. The third roller provides more control over the final shape, so it can be used for tighter cylinders. When the metal sheet leaves the roller, it can then be welded into a completed cylinder shape.

These types of metal rollers can be used for a wider range of materials and mid-range size projects, such as:

  • Pipes
  • Tubes
  • Ducts

4-Cylinder Metal Rollers

4-cylinder metal rollers use an additional roller beneath the uppermost roller to apply constant pressure. provide even more control and precision over the rolling process. In addition to cylinders, these sheet metal rollers can also make square- and rectangular-shaped objects. These machines tend to be faster, more accurate, and they are capable of working with much larger objects and much thicker metals.

4-cylinder metal rollers can integrate easily with CNCs and automatic controls for additional accuracy, speed and efficiency. These machines can be used for a variety of applications, including much larger applications than the previous rollers. 4-cylinder sheet metal rollers can work with much thicker, tougher metals and construct much larger or more challenging items, such as:

  • Industrial pipes or tubes
  • Large shaft components or fan bodies
  • HVAC components

Other Considerations

Additional features will allow metal rollers to work with other materials and produce different or more complex objects. For example, different metal rolling machines are capable of working with different sizes, as well as different levels of complexities. Some metal rollers can also work at an angle, so they can produce conical shapes.

Some sheet metal rollers use overhead supports to work with lighter metals or larger constructions more easily. These supports prevent the cylindrical shape or arc from collapsing as it is rolled. Side supports work similarly, preventing objects with large radii from recurving.

Safety measures are also an important consideration, especially for machine shops working with pre-owned metal rollers. To keep workers safe, sheet metal rollers must be equipped with emergency stops, control circuitry, safety breakers and detached operator controls.

If your material fabrication project requires cylindrical or conical constructions, it will be important to choose the right sheet metal roller. With the right equipment, your fabricator can construct your components more quickly and inexpensively. Ask an engineer for more information about types of metal rollers, how they’re used and how these impact your project.