What is cold rolling?

Cold rolling can be used to change the gauge of sheet steel.

Cold rolling is a process used in manufacturing and finishing settings to change the thickness or gauge of metals or glass. Primarily used in steel mills, cold rolling involves threading flat steel in a machine that advances the material through a set of rollers. These rollers rotate in opposite directions at a constant speed and are spaced so that their width is less than the width of the passing steel blade. When the steel goes through the cold rolling process, it is pressed to a pre-ordered gauge for post-finishing. Cold rolling often operates in a continuous cycle, with multiple sets of rolls working the metal until it reaches the desired thickness or shape.

It’s probably more common to think of steelworking as a hot process, with sparks flying and bright orange embers burning around the metal. However, much of what goes into cold rolling complements the hot rolling process, which is a separate step to reduce the size of steel plates, sheets, and bars. While hot treatments are more effective at handling the mass of steel, cold rolling refines the metal and works to improve the surface condition. Hot rolling makes steel malleable, while cold rolling makes it stronger.

What happens in this metal-on-metal process helps reinforce and strengthen the properties of the steel itself. As steel thickness decreases, most of the variable cracking or patching that occurs in thermal processing is formed or annealed by cold rolling. A similar process occurs with glass manufacturing, although the properties of glass make it less resistant to various processes.

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Most steel companies have long buildings to accommodate their plants or machinery. The rolling process can start with a conveyor belt at one end and a cutting blade at the other end. A coil of steel is passed through the mill and an operator sets the desired gauge and length of the part to be cold rolled. Achieving the correct gauge involves calculating the roll width, operating speed and required lubricant rate, while meeting order specifications.

When a strip completes its cycles in the mill, it is cut and transferred to another conveyor system where its weight, size and identification are recorded. Track processing or shipping to the customer. Using the cold rolling process enables the creation of production-ready steel for fabrication in a wide variety of automotive, construction and industrial settings.

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