Challenge A potential solar customer developing a new racking system came to Roller Die + Forming with a somewhat unique Zee profile, which unfortunately would require new custom tooling in the range of $65,000. This project certainly had unique specifications, in that the customer demanded total flexibility with hole/slot locations on the Zee to accommodate multiple size modules and array layouts.

Solution We showed the customer our library of standard Zee shapes as possible alternative candidates. The customer selected a 7.000″ Web Zee as his critical component, commenting that the clips and attaching components would be easier to change — plus, be much less expensive to convert. After a couple of brainstorming conference calls to gain a better understanding of the customer’s expectations, our Technical Services team went to work. A multi-gagged (thanks to sub-dies) pre-punch tool set was designed to punch holes/slots in the flat where needed, before the actual roll forming process began. Holes/Slots could now be punched anywhere on the same horizontal plane down the Zee’s Web, Legs or Flanges on any part length.

Results Designed and built in Roller Die’s vertically integrated tool room at a cost of only $9,500, this low-cost investment has now produced Zee purlins for 34 solar projects for this customer partner. As of today, our projects with this customer have varied from 11,000 Zees delivered to the California desert, to small school jobs in the Midwest, to shipping truckloads up and down the East Coast!

Roller Die + Forming has a standard sections tooling portfolio some 1200 strong — available for any customer to consider using in their product development or redesign initiatives. This FREE standard roll tooling, augmented by our pre-punching expertise, has been a major key to our success in the solar industry.