Currently, PtU is working on four main topics: Flexibilization, continous flow splitting processes, intelligent roll forming processes and assistance systems. Since the 1970s, research in the field of Profile Manufacturing Technology is one of the core competencies of the PtU, which was then called IfU. Today, the institute has three profiling lines with not only conventional forming stands, but also a large number of in-house developments, such as calibration and flow splitting stands or flexible stands with additional degrees of freedom. In order to ensure an economical and ecologically compatible production in the future, the constant new and further development of industrial production processes are of crucial importance. With various approaches, PtU focusses on the improved predictability of incremental processes and roll forming technology.

An effective, constructive approach to realize lightweight part design is the production of load-adapted cross sections of load-bearing parts. The implementation by roll forming poses a problem for the engineer because conventional roll forming does not allow changes in the profile cross-section in longitudinal direction and thus also no adaptation to non-uniform loads. Flexible roll forming allows the production of profiles with variable width by the addition of additional rotational and translational degrees of freedom to the tools. Thus, the roll positions can follow a variable target cross-section. A translational adjustment also allows the processing of sheets with longitudinally variable thickness, called Tailor Rolled Blanks (TRB). The novel process “flexible roller beading” expands the design freedom of cold-rolled profiles by also realizing height-variable cross-sections.

The high economic efficiency of profiling processes is often opposed by high adjustment efforts of the plant. In industrial practice, the fine adjustment of the forming stands is based on the experience of specialist workers. By integrating force and torque sensors into the systems, approaches of artificial intelligence can be implemented in the form of assistance systems. The information obtained about the process forces and drive torques relates to existing roller misalignments. From this, the necessary adjustment measures can be formulated for the workers. A sensory process monitoring also enables the detection of decelerating rollers or roller segments. Measures derived from this, such as freely rotatable roller segments, changing the roll gap or specific local adjustments of tribological conditions, increase the energy efficiency of the process.

Linear flow splitting and linear bend splitting are in-house developments of the PtU. They are ranked among the sheet-bulk metal forming category and generate bifurcations in the profile cross-section without material overlapping. The bifurcations are formed in a continuous forming process at room temperature either at the sheet edge (linear flow splitting) or in the sheet surface (linear bend splitting). By combination with conventional roll forming multi-chamber profiles, for example, can be produced from the coil. A flexible flow splitting stand enables the manufacturing of variable profile cross-sections in longitudinal direction with bifurcations.