Fluid geometry

Fabricator gets four machines in one with custom angle roll technology

Above: Clayton Industries’ ability to check and maintain tangent lines with Davi’s radius-checking vision system saves time and is more accurate.

Fabricator gets four machines in one with custom angle roll technology

February 2020 - “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” educator and author Dr. Stephen Covey said. Davi took this concept a step further when it designed and built a custom angle roll for Birmingham, Alabama-based Clayton Industries.  

The 52-year-old fabricator produces rolled beams, angles and tubes; structural bending comprises 40 percent of its business. The shop’s range and capacity—bending structural beams up to 40 in. wide and plate from 1/8 in. to 6 in. thick by 40 ft. long—gives Clayton Industries a strong base from which to service building and construction clients.

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Clayton Industries personnel can operate the MCP 28-36 VG after just two weeks of training conducted by Davi field service engineers.

Something new

President Jim Clayton Jr. says he saw opportunity in the rolling and bending space but expanding capacity meant updating equipment.

“I’ve been in this plant for 51 years,” he says. “I started welding when I was 12 years old. We’ve been rolling and bending steel the same way for 50 years with the same style of equipment. But when I began to research new technology, I found it didn’t exist.”

Clayton attended a master bender seminar held by Davi at its headquarters in Italy, where he was introduced to the MCP angle roll.

“You can’t use standard equipment when you are bending heavier material,” says Davi Business Development Manager Matteo Rossi. “Engineers for industries like aerospace, shipbuilding and infrastructure are designing more sophisticated parts from hard material with specifications that call for nonstandard bending profiles at tight diameters with strict tolerances.”

To help fabricators tackle these big jobs, Davi used advanced CAD and finite element analysis (FEA) to construct the industry’s heaviest, strongest machine structure. Three independent hydraulic motors and three high-torque planetary drives are coupled directly to the rolls to make it easy to feed material during the rolling process. Different options for CNC controls, rolls and other accessories make the MCP angle roll more versatile.

Camera comparisons

Feedback from angle roll users has continued to fuel improvements that have brought the MCP to higher thresholds of performance. In 2017, Davi introduced a radius-checking vision system on its angle roll. The iRoll-Camera allows manufacturers to compare the radius of a drawing or model with the actual part, in real time, without having to remove material from the machine. The camera is located above the operation to provide a bird’s-eye view of the entire part.

Once a blueprint, DXF file or CAD file is imported to the CNC, it appears as an overlay. Benders can also draw shapes and radii directly on the screen to create a template.

Davi’s ability to custom engineer the MCP allows it to build any angle roll to customers’ unique application requirements. “Clayton Industries had older equipment with limited and fixed capacity,” says Rossi. To help the fabricator expand its offerings, Davi developed and built the MCP 28-36 VG, equipment Rossi calls a “one-of-a-kind design for the U.S. market.”

“The MCP 28-36 VG is one machine but it acts as four angle rolls,” says Clayton. Installed in 2018, the unit also features new technology that Davi calls infinite geometry. “I can change roll stock amounts required for a job,” he continues. “The first project we used it for was a repeat order where the customer provided us with 40-ft.-long steel I-beams. Using the MCP, we found we could have done the job with 30-ft. I-beams and saved the customer $3,400 on four beams. It’s something we could not have done before.”

As a result, says Clayton, “we’re able to look at requirements differently. It gives us an edge on pricing material because we can size down in terms of length, which saves material and cash for the customer.”

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Clayton Industries can roll beams up to 40 in. the easy way and up to 24 in. the hard way.


According to Davi President Alex Soffritti, the evolution of infinite geometry has been a bit like moving from a two-seater car to a seven-passenger SUV with configurable seats.

“We constantly ask ourselves what we can do to make a fabricator’s job easier,” he says. “We went from single to variable geometries, but field experience showed us we had some gaps in capacity. That led us to pursue the idea of fluid geometry.”

Rossi notes that the design-build for Clayton Industries provided the training ground to turn infinite or fluid geometry from a concept to a reality. “We listened to Jim, and he trusted us to come up with a solution that met his requirements.”

The technology helps Clayton Industries reduce scrap and achieve optimal product quality.

“Structural bending is still an art form to some extent,” Rossi continues. “The profile can twist. You have to have an experienced operator who understands how the material will react.”

Bending angle iron into curves at specific radiuses to form arcs or rings can be done with the leg out, (the easy way) or the leg in (the hard way). “We can roll beams up to 40 in. the easy way and up to 24 in. the hard way,” says Clayton. “About 70 percent of our customers drop-ship material to us. We also offer the capability to trim to size.”

Train your angle roll

The MCP’s iRoll-Camera helps Clayton Industries maintain tangent lines. “Previously, we checked those parameters with a tape measure. Now we don’t have to stop in the middle of a job. We can make those checks on the screen. It saves time and it is more accurate.”

The MCP’s hard way attachment also improves upon Clayton’s older equipment. “It automatically adjusts with the roll when we put pressure on the front,” he says. “The beam rolling attachment has the same feature. With the CNC control, we can also ‘train’ the MCP to roll repetitive parts.”

In September 2019, Davi moved into a larger facility to stock standard plate and angle rolls for immediate delivery, perform test runs on plate and angle rolls, conduct demonstrations on its MCP iRoll vision system and machine automation. Localized sales and service support to its network of dealers also gives the machinery maker more chances to gather customer feedback. “We have always felt we were in a partnership,” says Soffritti, “not a business.”  FFJ


Clayton Industries
Birmingham, Alabama
Davi Inc.