In the field of profile forming technology, PtU is working on several key topics: Energy and resource efficiency, high-precision profiles and new production concepts, as well as novel profile shapes and plant flexibility. The institute operates several roll forming lines of various sizes, on which conventional stands and a large number of in-house developments, such as calibration and splitting stands or stands with additional degrees of freedom, are used. In order to ensure economical and at the same time ecologically compatible production in the future, the constant development of new and improved industrial manufacturing processes is of crucial importance. The focus at PtU is on research for improved plannability and process control with a variety of different approaches.

The high cost-effectiveness of profiling processes is often offset by a high adjustment effort of the equipment. In industrial practice, the fine adjustment of the forming stands is based on the experience of skilled workers. Problems here lead to increased scrap and can result in long downtimes. By integrating sensors into the equipment, artificial intelligence approaches are being implemented at PtU in the form of assistance systems. Information obtained about the process forces and drive torques is related to the profile quality and the energy requirements of the process. From this, on the one hand, the necessary adjustment measures can be formulated for the skilled worker, so that the high material utilization rate is maintained without waste and scrap, even with complex profiles and frequent variant changes. On the other hand, continuous process monitoring enables the detection of tool rolls that are too fast or too slow and work against the continuous profile feed. Measures derived from this, such as freely rotatable roll segments, fine adjustments of the profiling gap or targeted local adjustment of tribological properties, increase the energy efficiency of the process.

The requirements for dimensional stability and product behaviour are increasing progressively. At the same time, disturbing influences such as fluctuating semi-finished product properties are increasing for high-strength materials. At PtU, research is therefore being carried out based on analytical models and sensory measurement concepts to determine how complex profiles can be manufactured with high precision and in accordance with requirements. For this purpose, various machine and material configurations are tested in FE simulation and in application. The production process is optimized by feeding back the measurement results in combination with the analytical calculations of the deformation behaviour. Based on the underlying material behaviour during profiling, the longitudinal strains that cause profile defects can be specifically influenced by new straightening concepts, so that problems in conventional straightening due to overbending as a result of curvature overlaps can be avoided.

The trend towards flexible production with small batch sizes and a high variance does not stop at profiling technology. In order to transfer the high cost-effectiveness of profiling processes for large batch sizes with fast process speeds to smaller scales, it is necessary to make the systems and processes more flexible. At the same time, flexibilization also means that the possible range of products can be increased by expanding the degrees of freedom of the plant technology and, for example, that load-adapted profiles with varying cross sections and thicknesses can be produced in line with requirements. To this end, existing plant concepts are being fundamentally rethought at PtU, and the needs of products that could not be produced by profiling up to this point are being met by developing innovative new plants.