Roll Formed vs. Structural Pallet Racking

Pallet racking is available in two basic types, depending on the type of steel used. Roll Formed racking is produced with lighter gauge cold rolled steel whereas Structural racking is produced with heavier gauge hot rolled steel.

Roll Formed

Roll formed racking is still the predominant type of racking in the market. Roll formed components primarily derive their strength and load bearing capacity from the shape they are formed into. A roll formed end frame post starts as a coil of cold steel, it is then unwound and fed through a punch and a series of rollers that gradually shape the steel into its final tube like form. 

The bends in the post, which make it tubular in design, allow the post to bear substantial downward loads. An often used analogy is a thin aluminum can that is able to support the weight of an adult standing on top of it, without crushing. It is primarily the can’s shape that gives it such a high load bearing capacity, not the flimsy aluminum that the can is made from. The benefit of the thin aluminum is its low cost and that it can be formed to provide the required strength. The drawback is that the thin aluminum is easily damaged from the side. Even a small dent greatly diminishes the load bearing capacity of the can, allowing the can to be crushed easily by the weight of a small child. 

The same is true for roll formed racking. The light gauge steel can be formed into high load bearing shapes, but the thin gauge steel can easily be damaged, greatly compromising the load bearing capacity. For this reason, damaged roll formed racking components must be replaced.


Hot Steel is formed into structural steel channel at the foundry. Rack manufacturers then cut, punch, drill, and weld channel sections together to form frames, beams, and other components. Structural steel racking components are thicker and heavier than roll formed. They inherently provide greater load bearing capacity and are far more resistant to damages than thinner roll formed racking. When structural racking is damaged, it can generally be repaired.

Beam Connections

With roll formed racking, the beams typically interconnect to the frames mechanically and are secured in place with a safety pin that prevents the beam from being lifted out of its connection. In a structural racking system, the beams connectors are secured to the frames with bolts. These design differences make roll formed racking easier and faster to install or reconfigure, however the bolted connections provided with structural racking are more secure and rigid. 


Factors to Consider  Roll Formed  Structural
 Initial Investment Less  More
 Impact Resistance Less  More
 Capacity Less  More
 Maintenance & Repair More   Less
 Flexibility More  Less
 Best for Standard Applications  High Traffic, Heavy Loads,
Harsh Environments,
High Density Systems