However, U channels are much deeper and typically have a rounded bottom rather than a squared flat one. Sometimes a U channel will even have walls that are two different lengths so that the channel can be custom fitted to a particular area.
U channels can be made from a variety of plastic and metal materials, and they are a general purpose utility molding that can be used for many industries and applications.
One very common application for U channels is to use them for trim around glass in showers. A U channel can be made to fit around the edge of glass panels and add a nice finishing touch while creating a curved edge. Many contractors prefer to install aluminum U channels with a protective coating so that they do not corrode over time due to moisture exposure.
U channels are also used as railings, conduits, components in boat accessories and repair pieces for window frames. When a U channel is designed to be affixed to something, holes are drilled in the flanges or in the bottom to allow for screws or blots to pass through.
There are several roll forming methods for manufacturing U channels, but one that is becoming increasingly popular is cold roll forming. In this process, an undeformed piece is gradually bent into a U shape. This method is particularly efficient when employed on high strength sheet metal. Cold roll forming requires a specialized machine that slowly pushes the metal into the form of a U channel without having to spend time heating it.
The slow, uniform force exerted on the metal causes it to conform to the new shape without suddenly cracking. As mentioned above, U channels have many applications in residential construction, but they can also be found in industries like commercial construction, warehouse operations, and aerospace. Although they vary greatly in size, thickness and material, the concept and manufacturing process for all U channels remains very similar.