Roll Forming a Slatwall Panel Display System
Recently, American Greetings Corporation (Cleveland, Ohio) needed a new point-of-purchase merchandiser to display an assortment of non-card consumer items. For many years, the company had been using an extruded plastic channel design for the retail display unit, which carried items such as buttons, bows, and ribbons. After deciding to revamp the design, the company's retail display design team considered various alternatives.
During the design process, the team evaluated the use of extruded ABS, pultrusions, aluminum extrusions, and roll forming. Key aspects of each process including material strength, finish options, manufacturing flexibility, and, most important, cost were subjected to scrutiny.
"Once we determined that a steel roll form would give us the optimum combination of strength, color choice, and cost, we brought in a half dozen roll formers to review our design and their capabilities," said Anthony Santarelli, American Greetings Advisory Designer.
One of the roll formers under consideration was Dynamic Metal Forming, a job shop that is based in Koppel, Penn., and has plants in Elkhart, Ind., and St. Louis, Missouri.
Dynamic was found to be a cooperative partner, according to Mr. Santarelli. "Dynamic has the characteristics I seek in a vendor: communication, cooperation and a commitment to excellence in achieving our goals," he said.
Challenges of a Double-Slat, Interlocked Design
After a joint engineering session was held, a double-slat, interlocked design was determined to be the best option for this display merchandiser. But although it presented cost advantages, the design presented Dynamic with several manufacturing challenges.
For one, welding was not an efficient assembly method because of the heat distortion on the 0.024-inch cold-rolled steel (CRS) material; it also had attendant capital equipment costs. Instead, the American Greetings design team suggested the use of toggle locks because of their inherent strength and their elimination of any material distortion.
Essentially, the creation of the display would involve the forming, punching, and interlocking of two CRS sheets. "Dynamic took the idea and ran with it, charging off to investigate the feasibility, manufacturability, and cost considerations," commented Mr. Santarelli. "They already had presses in house with enough tonnage to accomplish the punch and assembly process," he added.
Jim Graham and Bill Ruff headed the Dynamic team that developed the manufacturing protocol. Rolling dies were designed and manufactured at the Dynamic plant in Elkhart, Ind., where the stamping dies were also designed.
First, the material is roll-formed into channeled slats. It is then punched and notched, interlocked, and subsequently powder-coated. Finally, it is numbered and packaged for shipment. Currently, 12 sizes of the display, in various colors, are in production.
Because American Greetings operates its own national warehouse system, the logistic concerns were also a factor in choosing a vendor.
"Once the panels were approved, American Greetings Purchasing tracked the production, shipping, and inventory performance," stated Mr. Santarelli. "The Dynamic personnel were informative and very helpful in this critical area, as wellespecially Steve Raisbeck (Director of Strategic Business Development), John Stubblefield (Product Sales Manager), and their support staff. Overall, we've been very satisfied," concluded Mr. Santarelli.
The current monthly unit production is approximately 11,000. A variety of color finishes is provided. Dynamic furnishes the overall back panels, each measuring 28 inches x 20 inches x 21/4 inches, in 2-, 3-, and 4-ft. sections to meet the various in-store merchandising needs of the customer.
This American Greetings slatwall panel display system is currently found in mass merchant retail, grocery, and drug stores. The company reports high retailer satisfaction with both aesthetics and sales performance.
Michael Schindley, American Greetings Engineering Supervisor, commented on the technical performance of Dynamic Metal Forming. "Because of our complex product design, many other roll-formers were skeptical about producing such a shape. Dynamic, however, saw this opportunity as a challenge and really put their heads together to deliver us a quality finished product, on schedule and on the price point."
Other members of the American Greetings Design Team who were involved in the project included Julie DeCocker, Manager, Display Design; Ray Young, Director, Retail Designer; and Terry Gerardot, Purchasing/Buyer.
American Greetings is a publicly held creator, manufacturer, and distributor of greeting cards and social expression products. The company employs more than 21,000 associates around the world.
More About Dynamic Metal Forming
Dynamic Metal Forming's experience in roll forming can be traced back to the company's founding in 1917. The company produces custom roll-formed, shaped metal parts for a variety of applications in addition to retail display units. These include aircraft and aerospace turbine engine parts, such as honeycomb seals, shrouds, and backing rings. Other markets for the firm's roll-formed shapes are off-road and heavy equipment, marine and military tank engines, industrial hydraulic lines, medical technologies, and power generation.
Dynamic works with various carbon steels, stainless steels, and high-temperature alloys, such as Inconel, Hastelloy, and Waspaloy. The company also provides roll forming of copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, and exotic metals such as zirconium, niobium, and tantalum. In addition to custom roll-formed metal shapes, Dynamic's contract services include fabricated tubing and assemblies, as well as specialty welded and seamless cold-drawn tubing.
Inconel is a registered trademark of Inco Alloys International, Inc.
Hastelloy is a registered trademark of Cabot Corporation.
Waspaloy is a registered trademark of United Technologies Corp.
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