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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976

A systematic procedure for the design of a cold rolling mill

U.S. Dixit*, P.S. Robi, D.K. Sarma
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati 781 039, India

This paper presents a systematic design procedure for the design of a laboratory cold rolling mill. In order to arrive at proper decisions at
various stages of the design, the concepts of fuzzy sets and priority decision tables were employed. The design process starts from deciding
specications and gradually reaches the detailed design phase. Specications were xed by trading-off various conicting goals using the
fuzzy set-based methodology. The various factors to be considered for deciding the roll diameter are presented. The roll diameter and motor
power are chosen using the fuzzy set-based technique. Three possible arrangements for transmitting the power to rolls were conceived. The
best among these three design alternatives was chosen by preparing a priority decision table. After the conceptual and embodiment stages of
the design, the detailed design was carried out in a conventional way. The present paper gives more emphasis to a systematic design
procedure for the conceptual and embodiment stages in the design process. # 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Rolling; Fuzzy set; Priority decision table; Design methodology

1. Introduction
Design of a rolling mill is a complex task requiring
thorough understanding of the process as well as good
decision-making capability for satisfying various conicting
goals. Numerous investigations have been carried out for the
analysis of the rolling process. For a brief review of representative papers, one can refer to the paper by Dixit and
Dixit [1]. However, to make use of these ndings of rolling
process analysis in design is not an easy task. In the process
of rolling mill design, the mill designer chooses appropriate
analytical tools, searches for empirical relations if analytical
methods are not fully developed or analysis time is a
constraint, makes use of his experience and then keeps
taking decisions at various stages of the design.
The design process starts from deciding the specication
of the product. In the beginning, the specications are
allowed to have a certain amount of exibility and they
gradually crystallize to crisp form as the design progresses.
Three important stages of the design are: conceptual design,
embodiment design and detailed design. Conceptual design
takes the problem statement and generates broad solutions
for it in the form of design concepts. In the context of a
rolling mill, it is the stage where the designer decides about
the type of roll arrangements, suitable roll-drive mechanism,
motor type, etc. At the embodiment stage, the concepts are
converted into bodily form. This is also called preliminary

Corresponding author.

design. This stage will require decisions regarding critical

rolling parameters, layout of the mill with several sets of
general drawings and specications. At this stage, a nal
check is made on function, spatial compatibility, design
aesthetics and economics. Finally, detailed design is carried
out. The outcome of this stage is a set of drawings obtained
as a result of rigorous design calculations.
Although the detailed design is carried out in a systematic
manner, most of the time, the earlier stages of the design are
based on intuition, experience and judgment of the designer
and rarely do they follow a formal procedure. Various
researchers of the design methodology have suggested systematic decision-making procedures for early stages of the
design. A review of these methodologies has been nicely
carried out in [2]. The paper describes the use of utility
theory, optimization, matrix methods, necessity methods,
probability methods and fuzzy set-based methods in the
design procedure. The authors discussed the benets of a
formal procedure in the early phases of design. In their
words: ``Formalizing the combination of attributes permits
trade-off strategies that are determined informally or implicitly to be decided rationally and explicitly. A formal trade-off
method also permits design decisions to be clearly understood and recorded for later retrieval and examination. When
a question regarding a particular design trade-off arises at a
later stage in the design process, a formal method can provide
a clear and complete picture of how the decision was reached.
Moreover, the trade-off can be repeated with revised information, thus conrming or refuting the original decision''.

0924-0136/02/$ see front matter # 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 9 2 4 - 0 1 3 6 ( 0 1 ) 0 1 2 0 1 - 8


U.S. Dixit et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976

During the last three decades, fuzzy set theory has been
nding wide applications in various elds of engineering
including decision-making in design. It was introduced by
Zadeh [3] to model real complex systems which are difcult
to model with conventional set theory. In the conventional
crisp set, a member either belongs to, or does not belong to,
a set. On the other hand, in the fuzzy set, the individual may
be a member of the set to varying degrees. The degree to
which that individual is compatible with the concept represented by the fuzzy set is called its membership grade in the
set and is usually represented by a real number value
between 0 and 1, 0 indicating full non-membership and 1
indicating full membership. Wood and Antonsson [4,5]
presented a fuzzy set-based method (called method of
imprecision, MoI). The MoI uses the concept of fuzzy set
theory to represent the designer and customer preferences in
the form of a fuzzy set. Thruston and Carnahan [6] have
prescribed the use of fuzzy set and utility analysis techniques for evaluation of multiple attributes in the preliminary
design stages.
Considering that the material parameters and friction
coefcient in the rolling process are uncertain, Dixit and
Dixit [1] treated them as fuzzy numbers. A fuzzy number is a
special type of fuzzy set dened on the set of real numbers
whose membership function is piecewise continuous. It is a
generalization of interval number in which the number may
lie in different intervals to varying degrees. The authors also
proposed the method to access the reliability of design. The
subsequent paper by the authors employed fuzzy set theory
in the scheduling of a tandem rolling mill [7].
The aim of the present paper is to describe a systematic
methodology for the design of a cold rolling mill, giving
more emphasis to the preliminary phases of the design, i.e.
the conceptual and embodiment phases. A vast amount of
literature is available on the detailed design aspects of
rolling mills [8]. In this work, a guideline has been presented
to apply the existing knowledge in a systematic and formal
way to arrive at the design, taking as an example the design
of a laboratory rolling mill which has been fabricated at the
Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
2. Design methodology
Arriving at the design specication is the rst task in the
design process. After that the conceptual, embodiment and
detailed design stages follow. Quite often the decisions taken
at one stage are revised after getting more information about
the design in subsequent stages. The following subsections
describe the salient features of the design methodology
adopted for the cold rolling mill.
2.1. Decision regarding design specification
In arriving at a decision regarding the design specications, the following are the minimum required parameters:


Yield strength and hardening coefficient of material.

Width of the strip to be rolled.
Inlet thickness and outlet thickness of the strip.
Roll radius.
Coefficient of friction.
Roll velocity.

In a systematic procedure, rst the range of inlet thickness

is decided, depending on the requirement. Here, a range of
210 mm was chosen. It is known that if the width is about
10 times the thickness, the process can be considered as
plane strain. Since the objective of the laboratory rolling mill
might be to study the plane strain rolling of large thickness
strip, a strip of width 100 mm was chosen.
The outlet thickness decides the percentage reduction.
This is a very important parameter inuencing roll power
and roll separating force. A designer would like to see the
capability of maximum reduction and high rolling speed, but
would be constrained by motor power and roll separating
force. The motor power and roll separating force directly
inuence the cost of the rolling mill. A rough estimate of the
rolling power P is giving by [8]:
P s0 bh1


1 r
v ln s0 bh1
v ln
1 0:5r
1 r


where s0 is the average flow stress, b the width of the strip,

h1 the inlet thickness of the strip, h2 the outlet thickness of
the strip, r the reduction and v the roll velocity.
The average ow stress of the material was taken as
550 MPa, so that a wide variety of steel materials may be
rolled. As already discussed, the maximum strip width (b)
is 100 mm and minimum inlet thickness (h1) is 2 mm.
Considering these values of b and h1 as crisp, the parameters v, r and P were treated as fuzzy. To construct the
membership function for these parameters, the following
procedure was adopted. The combination of rolling speed
equal to 1 m/s, reduction equal to 40% and power less than
10 kW was considered ideal design at a brainstorming
session of three designers. In other words, a best design
will allow a 100 mm wide and 2 mm thick strip to be rolled
up to 40% reduction in one pass, at rolling speed of 1 m/s
in less than 10 kW power. Thus, a membership grade of 1
is assigned to v  1 m/s, r  40% and P  10 kW. It was
expected that these goals could not be met simultaneously.
So, it was decided that, in proportion to deviation from the
ideal values, membership grades be reduced. Thus, a
membership grade mv of 0 is taken for v 0, and
between v 0 and 1 m/s, the membership function varies
in a linear fashion, as shown in Fig. 1(a). Similarly for 0%
reduction the membership grade (mr) of 0 is taken, and
between 0 and 40% reduction, the membership grade varies
as shown in Fig. 1(b). Since 10 kW is the ideal power,
20 kW power (100% more) is assigned a zero membership
grade (mp). Between 10 and 20 kW, the membership grade
varies in a straight-line manner, as shown in Fig. 1(c). For
each particular combination of v and r, a particular power

U.S. Dixit et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976


Fig. 1. Membership function of desired: (a) velocity, (b) reduction and (c) power.

value P is obtained using Eq. (1). Its membership grade

may be found from Fig. 1(c). This gure basically represents a fuzzy set of low power. Since the cost of the overall
mill is directly dependent on power, which was of prime

concern in the design, the membership function for very

low power was used in the decision-making process, which
was obtained by squaring the membership function of low
power. This is a widely used practice for obtaining a fuzzy


U.S. Dixit et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976

set with linguistic hedge very low from a fuzzy set of

A particular design may obtain different membership
grades in different aspects of the design. However, the goal
is to maximize overall preference of the designer/customer. In
the fuzzy set-based optimization procedure, the overall preference is expressed in the form of overall membership grade.
For obtaining the overall membership grade m0, two types of
strategies are commonly employed, a compensating trade-off
and a non-compensating trade-off. In a compensating tradeoff strategy, the aspects that perform well can compensate for
aspects that perform poorly. For example, low cost of the mill
may compensate for less maximum possible reduction,
because a customer may be ready to have a low cost mill,
even if the maximum possible reduction is lowered to some
extent. A non-compensating strategy will produce an overall
measure of a design alternative that is limited by the most
poorly performing aspect. For example, designing one shaft
stronger in the power transmission system cannot compensate
for the weakest shaft in the transmission line. Relevant to the
present problem, a suitable compensating trade-off function is
m0 mv mr m2p 1=3 and a non-compensating trade-off function
is m0 minmr ; mv ; m2p [2]. In most cases, one may adopt a
combination of these two strategies. Hence, a generalized
strategy is to dene an overall membership grade as
m0 a 3 mv mr m2p 1 a minmr ; mv ; m2p
that reduces to pure compensating strategy for a 1 and pure
non-compensating strategy for a 0. In this work, a 0 was
chosen, based on the discussions of designers. Computations
provided the overall membership grade of 0.539, which gives
r 21:56%, v 0:539 m=s and P 12:656 kW. Based on
this, it was decided to have nominal values of velocity as
0.5 m/s and reduction as 20%. The corresponding power is
10.9 kW. For this power, the estimated reduction possible in a
10 mm thick and 100 mm wide strip is approximately 4%,
which was acceptable to the design team.
2.2. Conceptual design: selection of the drive arrangement
After the specications have been nalized, various possible options were conceived. The most crucial design

decision was regarding the arrangement for power transmission from the gear box to the rolls. In the rolling mill, the
lower roll position was xed and the upper roll has to move
up and down for proper roll gap adjustment. At a meeting of
the designers at the concept phase of design, three possible
arrangements were conceived.
First arrangement (bevel gear drive arrangement) consists
of three pairs of bevel gears. First pair of bevel gears
transmits the power from a horizontal shaft of the main
motor to a vertical shaft. Second pair of bevel gears transmits
power from the vertical shaft to the xed lower roll. The last
pair of bevel gears transmits power from the vertical shaft to
the upper roll. This pair is connected to the vertical shaft
through a key and key-way arrangement so that it can slide
vertically along the shaft as the upper roll is displaced for
adjusting the roll gap.
The second arrangement (spur gear arrangement) consists
of four spur gears for transmitting power from the main shaft
to the rolls. The rst spur gear transmits power directly to the
xed lower roll. The same spur gear also transmits power to
the fourth gear attached to the upper roll. In between the rst
and fourth gears, there are two spur gears whose centres can
be moved along circular paths. This way, the upper roll can
easily be moved up and down for roll gap adjustment.
The third arrangement (universal joint drive arrangement)
consists of transmitting power to two working rolls by means
of universal joints and telescopic shafts. The telescopic shaft
consists of two parts. One part of the telescopic shaft consists
of internal splines through which the other part of the shaft
containing external splines can slide. This arrangement takes
care of the increase in the shaft length as the upper roll
moves during roll gap adjustment.
A priority decision table [9] was constructed to consider
the best among the three possible arrangements, as shown in
Table 1. First, various design criteria were chosen and their
importance was decided on a scale of 010, 0 indicating low
and 10 indicating high. For each criterion, the three design
alternatives were assigned a rating on the same scale as was
used in assigning importance. This was done in a brainstorming session of the designers. For each alternative, its
criteria rating was multiplied by the respective importance
factors, and all the resulting parts were added. Table 1 shows
the maximum score is achieved by the universal joints drive

Table 1
A priority decision table for choosing one amongst three design alternatives
Sl. No.

Total score


Bevel gear drive


Importance (I)

Ratings (Ra)

Design simplicity
Ease of assembly
Ease of maintenance
Efficiency of power transmission



Spur gear drive

Ra  I

Ratings (Ra)

Universal joint drive

Ra  I

Ratings (Ra)

Ra  I



U.S. Dixit et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976

arrangement. Hence, it was decided to design using a

universal joint drive.
2.3. Embodiment design
At the embodiment stage, the design is given a bodily
form. At this stage, most of the decisions regarding roll
diameter, motor power and overall approximate dimensions
of the mill are taken. The output of the embodiment stage of
the design is a set of general layout drawings, which will be
the input to the detailed design stage. The design methodology for deciding roll diameter and motor power is described
in Sections 2.3.1 and 2.3.2.
2.3.1. Decision regarding roll diameter
The selection of roll diameter is an important decision for
rolling mill design. It is generally selected on the basis of
strip thickness, the type of material to be rolled, maximum
reduction to be given to the strip, the coefcient of friction,
mill speed, etc. Large diameter rolls provide better rigidity
and better cooling. On the other hand, small diameter rolls
require small rolling force and are less sensitive to the effects
of changes in the rolling lubricant. For the same reduction in
the pass, the larger is the diameter of the work rolls, the
greater is the spread, i.e. increase in the width of the strip [8].
This is because, with very large roll diameters, the metal
encounters relatively more resistance to ow along the
rolling direction and tries to ow sideways. Another important consideration for deciding the roll diameter is the
prevention of the split ends and central burst defects. Split
end defect initiates as a crack, forming along the central
plane of the deformed material. As the rolling proceeds, the
two ``halves'' of the material separate from each other and
split end defect (alligatoring) occurs. The central burst
defect is caused by internal void formation. As mentioned
in the paper by Avitzur et al. [10], central burst tends to be
promoted by


Small roll radius;

Large initial thickness of the sheet or strip;
Small percentage reduction;
Tensile traction on either the front or the back of the strip.

Zhu and Avitzur [11] have given a criterion for the

prevention of split ends. According to this criterion, spilt
ends are expected if

> 1:81
where R is the roll radius. Avitzur et al. [10] have given a
criterion for the prevention of central burst also. It is seen
that if spilt ends are prevented, central burst should also not
occur. Because an objective equation is available for finding
the roll radius, the radius is found from Eq. (3). The above
equation provides different values of roll radius depending
on the inlet strip thickness and reduction. This mill is
expected to have a minimum reduction of 2%. If the inlet
strip thickness is 10 mm, the minimum roll radius will come
out to be 271 mm. However, this is based on the extreme
conditions to which mill may be subjected once in a while.
At other conditions, the roll radius will not be required to be
so high. Hence, it was decided to make a membership
function of the desired roll radius. This has been achieved
in the following way. Assume, that the low reduction cases
are from 2 to 5%, and inlet thickness is from 2 to 10 mm. The
membership grade for a roll radius is equal to the fraction of
times in which the process is safe from alligatoring to the
total number of possible conditions. The membership grade
of roll diameter, from the point of view of a defect free
process, is depicted in Fig. 2.
Another simple equation for obtaining minimum roll
radius is [8]:
1 h1 r
2 2R

Fig. 2. Membership functions of roll diameter from the viewpoints of low power and defect-free rolling process.


U.S. Dixit et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976

where mm is the minimum coefficient of friction. This

equation has been derived by considering the equilibrium
of forces acting at the strip and taking the roll diameter as
double the actual roll diameter to take into account the roll
flattening effect. If the coefficient of friction is less than the
value given by Eq. (4), the rolls will skid over the strip
surface and the strip will not be drawn. This provides,

h1 r


Taking h1 2 mm, r 0:2 and the minimum coefficient of

friction equal to 0.04 based on Table 6.10 in [8], provides
R > 31:24 mm.
Heat transfer consideration also provides an expression
for roll radius. If it is assumed that the entire rolling power is
dissipated as convective heat, a simple equation can be
written, as follows:
P 2pRlhtR



where l is the length of the roll, h the convective heat transfer

coefficient, and tR and t0 are the temperatures of roll surface
and surroundings, respectively. Since the laboratory mill
would not be required to work continuously and sufficient
time would be available for cooling, this equation was not
used in the present design. However, if the maximum allowed
roll surface temperature is known as a fuzzy number, the
desired roll radius from the effective heat transfer consideration can be obtained as a fuzzy number using Eq. (6).
A simplied analysis of the rolling process shows that
rolling power is approximately proportional to the square
root of roll radius [8]. This equation suggests that roll radius
should be kept as small as possible. But as suggested by
Eq. (5), in order to avoid skidding, the minimum roll radius
should be at least 30 mm approximately. Hence, the roll
radius of 30 mm may be assigned a membership grade of 1
and for roll radius values greater than 30 mm, the membership grade may be taken as inversely proportional to the
square root of the roll radius. Hence, the membership grade,
from the point of view of low power, is given by
8 r
< 30
for R  30;
: R
for R < 30
Fig. 2 depicts the membership grade. Using non-compensating trade-off between the twin objectives of low power and a
defect-free process, the roll radius is obtained at the intersection of the two membership functions in Fig. 2. This
basically maximizes the minimum of the membership grades
of the two objectives. If there are more than two objectives
(e.g., if Eq. (6) were to be considered), the procedures
remains same, i.e. one would have to select a roll radius
for which the minimum of the membership grades from
different objectives gets maximized. This radius is 98 mm
and the overall membership grade is 0.55. A nominal roll
radius of 100 mm is very close to 98 mm. Hence, the roll
radius was fixed at 100 mm. The barrel length of the mill rolls

is usually established by the maximum width of the strip to be

rolled, the mill width usually being a few inches greater than
maximum strip width. Here, the barrel length was taken as
300 mm. With 200 mm diameter and 300 mm length, the
estimated maximum deflection is of the order of 10 2 mm.
2.3.2. Motor selection
In view of cost and availability, it was decided to use an
AC induction motor. The motor was the costliest item in the
present design. Hence, its power had to be decided judiciously. By now, most of the parameters had been decided
and hence, it became possible to compute power more
accurately, using nite element analysis with fuzzy parameters, following the method presented in [1]. Details
regarding that analysis are not discussed here. In that
analysis, strain-hardening behaviour of the material is modelled by the following equation:

~e n
sy sy 0 1
where sy, (sy)0, b, n and ~e are the flow stress, uni-axial yield
stress, hardening coefficient, hardening exponent and
equivalent strain, respectively. In the present work, (sy)0,
b, n and coefficient of friction f were considered as four
fuzzy parameters. A triangular membership function was
considered to represent each fuzzy parameter, based on the
most likely (m), low (l) and high (h) estimates of the
parameter. A typical triangular membership function is
shown in Fig. 3. Note that the value of m is 0.5 at x l
(low estimate) as well as at x h (high estimate) and 1 at
x m (most likely estimate). The values of the lower and
upper bounds of the parameter at membership grade 0 can be
called extreme low and extreme high values, respectively. In
case the extreme low value becomes negative as a result of
constructing the membership grade in this fashion, the
extreme low value can be taken as 0 and a modified
straight-line can be drawn by joining this point to the vertex
of the triangle. However, in the present case, that situation

Fig. 3. A typical fuzzy parameter.

U.S. Dixit et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976


Fig. 4. Rolling torque as a fuzzy member.

did not arise. The low, most likely and high estimates of
these parameters were taken as follows:

sy 0 : l 450 MPa; m 500 MPa; h 550 MPa;

b : l 0:0416; m 0:052; h 0:062;
n : l 0:236; m 0:295; h 0:354;
f : l 0:100; m 0:150; h 0:200:

The nite element analysis using the fuzzy parameters

provides the roll torque as a fuzzy number as shown in Fig. 4.
As roll velocity is specied, the power requirement at
different membership grades may also be found. Selecting
a higher power motor will give more reliability to design, but
will increase the mill cost. The reliability value associated
with each power can be calculated using the method in [1],
which is explained below.
Having obtained the roll torque as a fuzzy number, we
have to give some measure of ``trustworthiness'' to different
design torques. In a probabilistic approach, a measure to
compare different designs is ``reliability'' that is dened as
the probability of not failing the element. Here, a measure
called ``fuzzy reliability'' is proposed. The method is based
on the concept of entropy. The term entropy is normally used
to describe the degree of uncertainty about an event. For an
event consisting of q discrete random variables, the Shannon
entropy, H, is dened as [12]:
pi log2
where pi is the probability of an event. Analogous to the
definition of Shannon entropy, the entropy associated with a
particular membership grade may be defined as [13]:

m log2 m 1 mlog2 1 m for 0 < m < 1;
for m 0; 1

In this form, the value of entropy is maximum and 1 at

m 0:5, when the uncertainty is maximum. It is to be noted
that De Luca and Termini [13] used the natural logarithm in
the entropy expression. Here the base has been taken as 2 to
bound the entropy value between 0 and 1. Now, (1 dm)
becomes a measure of certainty.
Suppose TR(m) and TL(m) are the right and left limits of the
roll torque at the membership grade m, respectively (see
Fig. 4), then the possibility index, PI, is dened as
TL m
< T
if T  < TR m;
PIm; T  TR m TL m
In the above equation T is the torque for which the
reliability is needed. The reliability index is defined as
bm; T  PIm; T  1



Thus, for each particular m, a different reliability index b is

obtained. To make the definition of reliability independent
of m, the area under the bm graph is taken as the measure of
reliability. The maximum value of the area corresponds to
the case when PI 1 for all m. So it is taken as 100%
reliability. Thus, the reliability is defined as
bm; T  dm
Re % R 10:5
dm dm
0:5 1
Fig. 5 shows the reliability for different torques. It is seen
that 100% reliability is achieved at a torque value of
3.28 kN m, which will be a worst-case design. At a torque
value of 2.8 kN m, 99% reliability is achieved, which was
considered sufficient for the present design. The corresponding motor power came to 14 kW. The worst-case design
would have selected a torque value of 3.33 kN m, resulting
in approximately 19% higher power. Considering the frictional losses during power transmission and the availability


U.S. Dixit et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 121 (2002) 6976

Fig. 5. Variation of fuzzy reliability with rolling torque.

of standard motor power, it was decided to procure a 15 kW

capacity motor.
2.4. Detailed design
The detailed design was carried out using conventional
machine design practice. The nite element code provided
an accurate estimation of roll separating force and roll
torque. Appropriate safety factors were chosen for the
design of various elements and structure. The detailed
assembly and component designs were prepared using standard CAD packages.
3. Conclusions
The present paper describes a systematic design procedure for a rolling mill designed by the authors. A formal
method of design was used even at the conceptual and
embodiment phases of the design. The fuzzy set-based
methodology could easily consider many attributes concurrently, while deciding the specications of the rolling mill.
An optimum roll radius was arrived at by considering two
conicting objectives. The methodology can be easily
extended to a situation involving diverse conicting objectives. The priority decision table provided an objective and
crisp method to choose among three possible designs,
whereas the conventional design methodology would have
chosen any one of them in an intuitive and subjective
manner. The motor power was decided considering the
uncertainties and imprecision present in the process parameters.
The rolling mill has been fabricated and is functioning in
the Manufacturing Laboratory of the institute. The performance of the mill is quite satisfactory. Since the design

procedure is formal and well recorded, all the decisions can

be examined and appropriately modied to give a revised
design in a different situation. It is expected that the guidelines presented here can form a basis for industrial design of
metal forming equipment in general and rolling mills in
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