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material behavior, you would see it and think that it was way
off, that there was no way it was going to roll to the desired
radius. But it really does spring back a tremendous amount.
Operators really need to have an understanding of what the
yields are and how they affect rolling characteristics.
“We really need to aim for this initial radius for the material to spring back open to the desired radius,” Pecho
continued. “Having an operator who understands material
and understands how the material is going to react as it
comes out of the machine—that’s all critical.”
Over weeks and months of observation and collaboration,
the rookie learns about different materials, from the extraordinary springback of AR400 and the significant springback of 6061 aluminum, to the “pancaking effects” excessive rolling pressure can have on softer aluminums.
Pecho added that rolling aluminum brings another
critical aspect of the plate rolling operation to the fore: pa-
tience. A new operator may be tempted to underbend and
then reroll the piece to the right radius. Of course, this not
only takes more time, but it also work-
hardens the workpiece—and alumi-
num exhibits work hardening like no
At CMRP, it’s extremely important to
get the initial radius as close as possible to perfect, Pecho said. This not
only minimizes work hardening (not
just on aluminum but all material),
but it also makes the entire operation
more efficient. They reroll only if it’s a
customer requirement or when there
is no practical alternative.
Knowing this, CMRP doesn’t assign rookie operators to operate the
machine for challenging materials or
part geometries. Instead, most rookies make the shift—from helper and
observer to the person actually operating the machine—on simpler jobs.
For these, the rookie may require a
little hand-holding. But as Pecho explained, if that person has observed,
taken notes, and learned the basics of
the craft, the transition usually isn’t
Still, for the transition to be successful, the operator needs to be patient. If he dives in and attempts to
roll a plate as quickly as his veteran
counterpart, problems arise. The operator watches the initial radius forming. The operator watches the initial
radius forming and reaches for his
radius gauge to ensure the material
is forming and springing back to the
Rolling is an art that requires patience, and passing on the torch to the
next generation is also a patient affair.
In a world of automation and computer control, so much of plate rolling
remains a craft. It’s a matter of taking
notes, asking questions, and learning
the craft so that one day the rookie becomes the guru, ready to pass on the
torch to the next generation.
Senior Editor Tim Heston can be reached
Photos courtesy of Chicago Metal Rolled
Products, 3715 S. Rockwell St., Chicago,
IL 60632, 773-523-5757, www.cmrp.com.
Rolling is an art that
requires patience, and
passing on the torch to
the next generation is
also a patient affair.