What is a Chill Roller? What is a Heat Transfer Roller?

Simply put, any roller that transfers heat away-from or into a material, web, or product is a heat transfer roller. Why do we see descriptors like chill roller, heat transfer roller, heated roller, chill roll, water roll, etc? Unfortunately, from one user to another and from one chill roller manufacturer to another you will likely hear them referred to, often interchangeably, as anyone of these terms. Most often if one refers to a “chill roller”, that roller is used to cool-down or “chill” a product. “Heat transfer roller” can refer to a roll that either heats up or cools down a product. In some cases the rolls are used for both, depending on the product a customer is using; a customer may use the roller to cool down a product one day, while using it heat up a different product the next.


While sometimes the nomenclature can get confusing and ambiguous, the process by which chill rollers and heat transfer rollers accomplish their main task is, in-general, pretty straight forward (except for a few uncommon exceptions that we won’t get into in this article): a fluid, which is either chilled or heated, is passed into the inner-chambers of the roller and is used as the medium to either add, or remove heat from the customer’s product. The chill rolls or heat transfer rolls are themselves, heat exchangers. Fluid can range from waters, glycols, thermal oils (generally for heated applications), and steam. Fluid can enter one side of the roller and exit on the opposite side which is called a mono-flow configuration, or it can enter and exit on the same side of the roller which is called a duo-flow configuration. Chill rolls and heat transfer rolls are most often built of steel but are sometimes made from cast iron or aluminum, and in some specialty cases, copper.

Where, and in what cases are Chill Rollers and Heat Transfer Rollers used?

Anywhere where a product needs to have the temperature increased or decreased in a manufacturing process. Chill rollers and heat transfer rollers are used throughout the “web manufacturing” industries. An ambiguous term that we don’t like to use for this reason, a “web manufacturing” operation can be easily thought of as any operation whose product is made from a relatively wide and thin sheet. Think: paper production (of all types – tissue, bathroom, etc.), plastic used in the packaging of everyday consumer and industrial goods, printing, cloth and textiles, converting processes, cast film, flat sheet, etc.

In these operations, the customer’s product needs to be at a certain temperature at different steps along its manufacturing process. Most often, chill rollers and heat transfer rollers are how this is accomplished. In contrast to using a heater that heats by convection or air blasts to cool down the product, chill rolls and heat transfer rolls cool and/or heat much more quickly and effectively allowing the product to be manufactured faster (less expensively, in most cases).

Specifically one might see chill rollers and heat transfer rollers directly adjacent to an extrusion die, turning a melted plastic into a solid thin film, used to meter or apply an adhesive in coating operations or laminating operations (while maintaining a very uniform desired temperature), used to heat up a product directly before an in-line thermoforming operation, even used to cool down rubber rollers (as a backing roll) in an operation to mitigate coating failures and similar. We’ve maybe touched on 1% of the seemingly endless uses of chill rollers and heat transfer rollers. We see new and ingenious technologies each year that utilize their temperature control capabilities.

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No one-size-fits-all solution for a Chill Roller or Heat Transfer Roller

Chill rolls and heat transfer rolls are quite often misunderstood in their inherent complexities and most often this is due to their perceived simplicity. From the outside they look like a simple steel cylinder. Nothing fancy. Even their internals, while challenging to manufacture we can assure you, look somewhat simple. The complexity most often comes into play when one looks at the details surrounding design for manufacturability and considering how to produce a roll that is “best-fit” for a customer’s needs. It is certainly the case that all heat transfer and chill rolls are able to transfer heat, BUT, some do so much more efficiently and effectively than others, by design.

A customer’s product and needs will dictate the heat removal rate, heating or cooling capabilities required of a chill or heat transfer roller. This requirement will then drive the design by which the roller will be constructed. A substantial volume of R2R’s business comes from a subsect within the chill roll and heat transfer roll category: “Double-Shell” Heat Transfer/Chill Rolls.

As the name suggests, these rolls are built with an outer shell and an inner shell. In particular, they exhibit the most effective and efficient cooling or heating available as they direct a high-velocity flow of fluid directly beneath the outer shell and between the inner shell (think of an annulus) to get maximum heat transfer efficiency where customers require uniform temperature control. Double shell rolls are used where temperature control and minimal temperature variation are of upmost importance to the manufacturing of a customer’s product.

Because of the vast range of products produced using chill and heat transfer rollers, it is most often the case that the inner fluid channels from one roller should NOT be built/designed the same as the next. The best chill roller manufacturers will identify certain parameters in any potential use case: fluid and/or coolant flow rate(s), heat removal rate or heat addition rate, roll load and/or loading forces, along with several key factors to ensure downstream operations and proper cooling/heating characteristics are met. This is where R2R Engineering stands apart from our competition: most of our competitors just want to push a generic product; we want to deliver a custom solution.

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Why R2R Engineering?

In short, R2R Engineering offers custom solutions to ensure our customers get what they need. No more, no less.

With an easy line to a technical expert/engineer with ample experience on the subject, our customer don’t have to battle through multiple layers of sales and administrative individuals (although they are important too!); our customers get through to someone who can help them through their challenges effectively. R2R puts an intense focus on design for manufacturability with the understanding that a “properly” designed roller will function excellent at a competitive cost with a very long expected service life.

Our design experts will ensure a custom solution to fit your chill roller and/or heat transfer roller needs and we’ll manufacture the roller in-house guaranteeing a top quality product. Reach out to R2R Engineering today. We will build you the best chill or heat transfer roller for your application.

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