Other open metal channel shapes can resemble the letters J or C; a metal channel’s shape is determined by the way in which it will be used.
Uses for metal channels are found in many contexts across many industries. IT infrastructure companies use painted metal channels to cover wiring that would otherwise be exposed to contact with people or other moving objects. Metal channels can be used in carpentry and building construction in industrial, commercial and residential building contexts.
In many offices and residences, perforated aluminum or brass channels are used to support modular shelving systems. Some varieties of door trim, particularly in industrial and institutional settings, can feature metal channels. Metal channels can be used to direct electrical wiring, it can be used as rail guidance systems or tracking for carts and they are widely used to support signs on highways.
Metal channels can be fabricated in many ways, but roll forming is the simplest method and produces the smallest amount of waste materials. Roll forming is a cold rolling process, which means that no heat is applied to the metal in order to make it more pliable. Instead, a long series of rollers use force to gradually bend a metal.
A roll former begins roll forming a stock of metal by drawing the metal in with its first set of rollers. Those rollers are specially designed to fit tightly around the contours of the metal. Those rollers direct the metal to the next set of rollers, which is usually positioned just inches away. The configuration of the next rollers is slightly different than the first, which causes the shape of the metal to change slightly.
Each subsequent roller set imparts its shape to the metal until it reaches the last set of rollers, at which time the metal has taken its final shape. When the metal emerges from the last rollers, it can be cut and prepared for shipment to customers. Aluminum, steel, zinc, brass and many other metals can be made into channels using a roll forming process.