Is a Roll Former a better Alternative to the Classic Steel Distributor?

    4 Minuten
    Jun 12, 2023

    Would you go hiking in flip flops? Run a marathon in high heels? You need the right footwear to make the most of each activity. You might still be able to reach the top of the mountain in your sandals, but you’d get there quicker and with happier feet if you choose the proper boots. The same goes for steel, which has as many different uses as there are shoes for different occasions. And in both cases, the choice needs to match the area of application.

    While the range carried by a well-stocked steel supplier might be sufficient for certain needs, special requests sometimes require other solutions. In this article we’ll look at the range of services and the limits of the classic steel distributor and look into how a roll former might be the better choice for you.

    Trusted All-Rounder: The Classic Steel Distributor

    The scope of action of the classic steel trader is usually about a radius of 150 to 200 kilometers per warehouse, with the connection of several locations often resulting in supra-regional service networks. To a certain extent, its product catalog includes a range of standardized goods - from sheet metal and pipes to rebar grids.

    The individual products are not sold by the meter, but in relatively small quantities as general cargo. As a customer, you could place an order for a truckload of sheet metal, for instance. In addition, the steel trader often supplements its portfolio with classic processing methods such as flame cutting, bending or laser cutting.

    You can think of it like the classic shoe store at the local shopping center - the place where the whole family has always gone to find the right footwear for day to day wear. 

    When the Basics aren’t enough: The Limits of Steel Distributors

    Sometimes your traditional steel vendor isn’t the best option. With larger and more complex projects, their options are often limited, and order limits are quickly reached. If we stick with the shoe metaphor here - a 2.10 meter tall professional basketball player with a size 16 shoe would have a hard time finding the right professional footwear he needs at the mall. 

    You probably already know the most common reasons why the steel distributor might not be the best choice:

    • Delivery difficulties can occur larger quantities cannot be procured quickly enough.
    • High costs for projects that require many meters of material.
    • No way to fulfill special requests - deviation from the standard material quality, or tighter tolerances, aren’t possible at all.
    • Quality fluctuations may occur due to dependency on different suppliers, even if their products are manufactured according to the same standards.
    • A lack of in-depth technical knowledge of special shapes, materials and manufacturing technologies: for example, when an octagonal profile with application-oriented details is required instead of a conventional square tube.
    • Less scope for customized solutions due to a more narrow focus on standard products.

    3 Alternatives to the traditional Steel Distributor 

    With an increasing number of compromises needing to be made using the classic steel distributor- no matter how good they may be in their field - more suitable alternatives need to be found, just like our basketball pro would look for the best, specialized footwear for him to take him to the championships. So, what alternatives are there to your current steel supplier?

    1. Change of Supplier 
      As a first step, you could check whether the product quality and prices of another steel distributor better meet your expectations. However, this is rarely a real solution to most of the problems described above.

    2. Change of Materials 
      You can replace conventional standard structural steel with new materials, such as high-strength and application-oriented steels. 

    3. Change of Provider
      If no satisfactory solution can be found at the distributor level, it’s advisable to work with a specialist provider who can cover your individual requirements. For example, service-oriented manufacturers of roll-formed custom profiles can really expand your options. There are alternatives and testing the possibilities is definitely worthwhile.


    Pro Tip:
    If you work with a professional partner in the manufacture of your products, they’ll be more than happy to help you choose the right material. At Welser Profile, our experts offer comprehensive advice on  materials for each individual customer’s project.

    With this in mind, let’s take a look at when working with a specialist roll former really pays off:

    When it’s worth going with the Roll Former 

    Roll-formed profiles offer almost limitless possibilities for product design. They’re characterized by a number of process-related advantages, such as: very high precision and vertical integration, as well as high product quality. For more innovative industrial companies, the switch from a classic steel vendor to a roll former is highly recommended when:

    • high metrical volumes are required in consistent and function-oriented quality.
    • the amount of meters required can no longer be manufactured in an economically viable manner using classic manufacturing methods.
    • you’re working toward sustainable production methods and developments today and in the future, e.g. through local sourcing.
    • multifunctional components are required, e.g. multi-chamber profiles with functional grooves for individual fastening solutions as well as optimal design of the desired statics.
    • highly specific arrangements are required, e.g. in terms of packaging and logistics, technical functional components, optimal adaptation to installation requirements, further surface uses, etc.
    • the complexity of procurement processes needs to be reduced by combining the activities of previously different departments, e.g. welding / assembly of individual profiles or surface finishing, into a single roll formed profile.
    • they want to concentrate on their own core competence, work without loss of productivity, and just want a functioning component. In this case, the roll profiler can fully deal with procuring the production material when Special Requirements Are Needed

    Conclusion: A Roll Profiler makes an ideal Alternative

    So, what have we learned? You need the right shoes to get you where you’re going reliably and without aching feet. And the more intensive and specialized the activity, the more likely it’s simply better to go with a custom-made shoe. As a roll former we are, so to speak, the shoemakers of the industries that run on steel. 

    We open up possibilities & opportunities for innovation-oriented industrial companies. Because these days, these businesses need complete solutions. Solutions with tailor-made concepts, individual advice from experts with project experience and process-integrated material provision in consistently high quality. And where the classic steel distributors hit the limits of their capabilities, roll formers are a worthwhile alternative to take you to the finish line. 

    Questions? Talk to us and let us realize your ideas. Contact us now!  


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