voestalpine Roll Forming Corporation
voestalpine RFC Aerospace

Advantages of Custom ROPs Structural Tubing

Our resident experts are often asked about the key differences between custom shaped ROPs tubes compared to standard shapes. Below, we explain the advantages of custom ROPs components in the off-highway vehicle market. We guide you with a list of questions your design engineering teams should be asking when considering custom or standard tubing. Gauge for yourself if custom shaped ROPs components would be a solution for you and your product line.

Do you want to eliminate part variability in your weld cells?

One of the biggest challenges fabricator’s face when it comes to ROP’s components is repeatability in the manufacturing process, particularly in tube bending. Any number of factors can affect repeatability in bending but one of the most prevalent stems from the Residual Stress in the tube inherent to the manufacturing process of the tube itself. To better explain this, let’s examine two of the more common forming methods used to create ROP’s Structural Tubing.

  • Indirect Forming Method → High Residual Stress → Less Repeatability in Bending and Less Retention of Bend Geometry

This common method of forming, used primarily for standard shapes, utilizes a minimum number of forming stands and rapidly forms coil (flat) stock into round tube. From there, the round tube is further (and rapidly) processed through a series of rollers that apply pressure both horizontally and vertically to achieve the final shape i.e. square or rectangle.

The end result is a tube which retains a high degree of residual stress due to rapid forming as well as a loss of weld seam control, the location of which can be critical for example in union of two ROP’s components via castings.

  • Direct Forming Method → Low Residual Stress → High Repeatability in Bending and High Retention of Bend Geometry

Unlike Indirect forming, Direct Forming is exactly as it sounds. The desired shape is formed directly from coil (flat) stock through a series of forming stands in a gradual, calculated and controlled forming process that yields the final custom shape with minimal residual stress compared to indirect forming. In addition, Direct Forming affords tight weld seam location tolerance unlike that observed in Indirect Forming.

Now that we understand two of the more common methods of tube manufacturing, what does this really mean and why does it matter? What’s in it for me and my organization?

RFC Custom ROP’s tubes are formed via the Direct Method of roll forming. We also provide further fabrication services (including bending) to the majority of our customers. By utilizing the Direct Form method of tube manufacturing, RFC benefits from a higher degree of repeatability in the bending process. RFC tubes have a higher probability of retaining their bent geometry within specified tolerances, minimizing issues with assembly, weld cell fit-up, and rework at your facility.

Do you want to reduce the number of components within the cab structure? Do you want to reduce time and money spent on additional fabricated components and weldments necessary to achieve an enclosed, weather-tight cab structure?

Standard shaped tubes, (rounds, squares and rectangles) by their very geometry, are not conducive to the creation of a sealed environment for the operator without the incorporation of additional fabricated components. These additional components and the cost of their inclusion in the cab structure are both unnecessary and aesthetically unappealing.

ROP’s enclosures which utilize Custom Roll Formed structural tubing create value by eliminating the need for additional components and the assembly thereof. In addition, Custom Roll Formed structural tubing affords design engineers almost limitless options in creating a tube geometry that maximizes form fit and function, eliminating the design restriction inherent to standard tube geometry.

Why be restricted by standard shapes and additional component and assembly costs when you can customize your cab and the aesthetics of your brand by utilizing Custom Roll Formed ROP’s tubing from RFC?

Do you want a properly sealed cab?

Have you encountered a sealing issue after a water pressure test? The ROPs tube has to properly seal, without any variability, to the door gasket, windshield and roof. Integration of the sealing surface in the design of the custom ROP’s tube is critical to achieving the highest degree of weather tightness.

Utilizing Custom ROP’s tubes that protect, most importantly, the operator but also facilitates a weather-tight barrier in an aesthetically pleasing manner while minimizing fabricated components just makes good sense. RFC’s manufacturing and fabrication processes as well as our quality standards will ensure the best possible outcome in creating properly sealed cab enclosures.

Do you want to reduce your employee's labor time and frustrations?

By decreasing additional fabrication processes you can improve the speed of the assembly time. You also reduce your employee’s frustrations and time spent on dealing with those frustrations with part variability. Implementing custom shaped ROPs tubes to your cab structure will have a direct impact on your internal culture. And we all know that happy employees equates to happy customers.

Is the safety of your customers important?

Well, yes, of course we know the safety of your customers is important to you. After all, the letter “P” in ROPs does stand for protection.

Have you ever driven a car that had an A pillar that created a poor line of sight? In off-highway applications, custom shaped ROPs components improve the overall line of sight for the driver. The metal tubing is engineered to be slimmer. Therefore the shape of the tube doesn’t interfere with the operator’s ability to drive and operate the machinery effectively.

The critical elements of a cab’s structural integrity are largely driven by material grade, material wall thickness and other properties such as tensile and yield strength. Those technical aspects, regardless if the shape is custom, standard square, round or rectangle, ensure structurally safe advantages to the operator.

Is overall design and product brand image important?

Right now you can hear someone in your marketing department yelling from his or her office.


The design appeal is a major consideration in any purchasing decision. No doubt countless hours are spent discussing this important topic.

With custom tubes, the cab design and features would integrate and compliment seamlessly with the overall intended design of the vehicle. You are allowing the overall design to sell itself instead of adapting the design around a standard shaped tube.

In-line welding processes and powder coating options would eliminate the need of integrating any additional cover pieces to ‘cover up’ any cosmetic flaws. You would receive the custom shaped tube ready to install without the additional plastic cover pieces or welding labor time needed.

Are you looking for a partner to help you engineer, form and solve when it comes to tube fabrication solutions?

Did you answer yes to some or all of the questions above? Consider the advantages custom shaped ROPs tubes can bring to your products, customers, employees and company success. Contact us with any questions you may have about this topic.

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voestalpine Roll Forming Corporation offers roll forming, in-line welding, tube bending and tube laser cutting all under one roof. RFC specializes in the production of high volume, high quality custom shaped open profiles and structural tube components.

We like to partner with design engineering and operations teams early in the product life cycle discussions. To our current off-highway customer base, this is what makes RFC a true partner rather than just a supplier. For more information or to request a quote, visit our Off-Highway, ROPs/FOPs and Tube Fabrication pages.

Roll Forming Corporation is part of the voestalpine group. In its business segments, voestalpine is a globally leading steel and technology group with a unique combination of materials and processing expertise. voestalpine, which operates globally, has around 500 Group companies and locations in more than 50 countries on all five continents.