Take care of your roll forming machine

There are many manufacturers of roll forming equipment and all have very similar maintenance requirements, whether it's for a gutter machine or a roofing machine.

Follow these basic requirements and you'll have a machine that will serve you well for many years to come.


Roller Maintenance

Most modern machines feature a polyurethane drive roller system with chromed free-floating forming rollers that have to be routinely cleaned. Turn on your machine and spray the rollers with a product like Formula 409, a household cleaner whose original application was as a commercial solvent and degreaser for industries that struggled with particularly difficult cleaning problems. You do not want to use anything too aggressive. Let your machine run for a few minutes, then turn it off and wipe down the rollers with a clean cloth. Remove as much dirt and grime as you can. Then turn the machine on and jog it forward-keeping your hands away from any moving parts. Turn the machine off again and wipe off the other sides of the rollers and the bottom roll. Wipe away any excess dirt or liquid. Repeat if necessary.

Use a clean cloth to wipe down the metal forming rollers with Formula 409. Cleaning these rollers may require more effort and elbow grease than the neoprene rollers. Repeat these steps once a month and remember to make sure the polyurethane rollers are completely dry before running material through the machine. Rollers that are not dry will slip and make a mark on the bottom of the material.


Blade Maintenance

It is necessary for any roll forming machine to keep the cutting blade well-oiled to ensure a clean cut of the roofing or gutter material. The guillotine blade should be oiled every day with 3-in-1 oil or 10-weight motor oil. Do NOT use WD-40. It is not a lubricant. The WD stands for water displacement and the product is made with a cleaning and degreasing solvent known as Stoddard Solvent that can ultimately get sticky and gummy-not lubricating. It will create wear on the blade and not give you a good clean cut on the material.

Overall Cleaning

Wiping down the entire machine also gives you the opportunity to closely inspect the machine. As with any mechanized piece of equipment, keeping the machine clean at all times will increase its life and make maintenance easier. If this is done on a regular basis, the process will only take a few minutes and will save you a lot of time in the long run, eliminating the need to clean hundreds of feet of product later.

Remove other debris by vacuuming out the machine after cleaning the rollers. Blowing out the machine with compressed air is not a good idea because you can blow debris onto the chains and bearings.

Never leave material in any machine with polyurethane rollers. When you are done using the machine for the day, calculate the length of the machine into the last piece needed and then empty the machine. Material left in the machine acts like a trough, catching dirt and debris. Consequently, when the machine is turned on, the roller runs through the residual dirt and will soil the product and the rollers.

At least once a year, oil all the chains in your rollformer using motorcycle chain oil. Keep the chain drives-top and bottom-tight. Each station is adjustable. Otherwise, if the chain has too much slack, the chain can jump on the teeth of the sprockets, and cause the sprocket to wear and eventually will need to be replaced.