Steel has been used since ancient times. But it was not until the mid 19th Century, when the Bessemer Process was invented, that steel production became more efficient, less expensive, and...well...prolific. Steel is all around us in everything from appliances and automobiles to bridges and medical equipment.
If you work in construction or industrial manufacturing, you are likely familiar with many varieties and sizes of steel. Steel is categorized according to its composition or grade (carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, tool steel, etc.) as well as by its shape and form (round, flat, coil, beam, etc.). When steel is categorized by its thickness (or gauge), three terms are used: Steel foil, steel sheet, and steel plate. Let's take a look at what differentiates each thickness and what it’s best suited for.
Steel foil is the thinnest designation. Like the aluminum foil you might use to cover food in your kitchen, it’s very flexible and delicate. Metal foil thickness can vary but is generally defined as being a thin sheet less than 0.2mm thick. Standard aluminum foil typically is only 0.03mm thick, while gold foil can be even thinner.
Steel sheet has a medium thickness that ranges between 0.5mm and 6mm. It’s sometimes corrugated (creased at regular intervals) or textured with diamond ridges during manufacturing. Both of these techniques bolster steel sheet strength without increasing its total weight.
Steel plate metal is the thickest designation. Any sheet metal thicker than 6mm is known as plate metal. Steel plate is durable but heavy. It’s used in applications where strength is more important than saving weight.
Metal foil, sheet metal, and plate metal are designated by their thickness, not by their chemical and physical properties. Therefore, the same grade of steel may be best suited for very different purposes depending on its thickness alone.
Steel foil is commonly used for shielding or fabrication, while stainless steel foil is used in a wider range of applications. Stainless steel foil is frequently used in industries such as food services, packaging, home appliances, automotive, and building and construction.
Steel sheet is perfect for items such as railings and gates, while stainless steel sheet is once again more versatile. Stainless steel sheet is corrosion-resistant and therefore desirable for both industrial and commercial applications. It’s used for everything from fasteners and machinery components to heat exchange units and foodservice parts.
Plate steel is ideal for a broad range of applications, including structural supports and heavy machinery manufacturing. Stainless steel plate is also used similarly, but more often in industries that require its hygienic properties, such as food processing.
If steel metal thickness is not a topic you've invested a lot of time in studying, don't worry. You can still find the perfect product for your upcoming project with help from a reputable metal supply company.
New West Metals is a 100% Canadian, family-owned specialty metal supplier. With an outstanding reputation for individualized customer service, they are truly an industry leader.
So, whether you're in search of metal foils or it’s sheet and plate steel you're after, New West Metals has got you covered with a huge selection available nationwide.
Contact New West Metals today with all of your steel questions.