Rolling mills have many applications in heavy and light industry. This page will outline the different types of rolling mills, and go on to explain their role in producing both processed metals and alloys and also parts for machines and other items. Specialised applications such as rollforming and the production of jewellery will also be examined. In addition, another part of this site will analyse roller shutters in depth. These are security devices that are produced when rolling mills are used in rollforming.

Rolling Mills

Rolling mills are machines that shape different metals by passing them between pairs of rolls and other associated devices to flatten and bend them until they attain the form required. There are many different applications for rolling mills, both in heavy and light industry. Traditionally rolling mills were most commonly found in steelworks, but now they can be found in many areas, ranging from the production of roller shutters to an application as delicate as the production of jewellery. They come in two main classifications, hot rolling mills and cold rolling mills.

Hot And Cold Rolling Mills

Hot rolling mills are usually found in steelworks, aluminium processing plants and the like. They are used for the primary processing and shaping of hot metal before it goes onto cold rolling mills for finishing into more precise forms, often passing through the mill several times before it gets to the latter, with the thickness of the metal being gradually reduced each pass until it gets to the required thickness.

Cold rolling mills are found in steelworks and aluminum works, and are also used in all types of factories and engineering works where metals need to be processed and formed into specific shapes.


In foundries, the main task of cold rolling mills is to finish off the steel that has exited a preceding hot rolling mill, further refining the steel into the shape required. Steel going on to other facilities for further processing comes in three main types: plate, sheet and foil. Sheet is the thickest, generally over 6mm in thickness, and is used for the heaviest applications including construction, shipbuilding and numerous military uses. Foil is the thinnest, usually less than 0.2mm thick. It is most often used in packing and packaging, but has other applications in electronics and printing. Between these two in thickness is plate: this has applications in many industries including construction, aerospace, and automobiles.

In factories and other engineering works, rolling mills are used to create parts for many different types of products, often in the construction and static security industries. An example of this is the use of rolling mills in the making of roller shutters (also known as roller doors or rolling doors) by the process of rollforming.


Often used in light industry, rollforming is a process most commonly using long strips of metal to produce large amounts of machine or other parts. It involves a rollformer, a special type of rolling mill which consists of a series of rolls and stands, each performing a specific bend or cut. The metal is fed through the rollformer and each step in the process means gets the metal closer to the desired end product. A complex rollforming system can be extremely expensive to implement, so often proposed set-ups can be simulated using computer modelling or other similar techniques.

Many simpler configurations of rollformer or rolling mill are available: one example is in the fabrication of parts for roller shutters. Long strips of steel or aluminium are passed through the rollformer and then bent and cut to form strips of lath of whatever length is required. These strips of lath are then joined together to form shutters: depending on requirements a chain mechanism or tubular motor can be added to act as an opening and closing mechanism. The key advantage of using a rollformer or rolling mill is in cost and efficiency: products such as roller shutters can be made much more quickly and cheaply than would otherwise be possible.

Cottage Industries

Rolling mills are even finding their way into smaller scale industries, the making of jewellery being a perfect example. Small rolling mills are available for the pressing and production of individual pieces of jewellery, starting from a couple of hundred dollars or pounds in price. Depending on their product, any business can benefit from the implementation of a rolling mill and associated processes.