Articles by Joseph Dombrowski

The Difference Between Cold-Finished and Hot-Rolled Steel

Business owners and makers have thousands of steel varieties on the market to choose from. With such an array of metal options, selecting the correct type, grade, and finish of your building material can be tedious. Pennsylvania Steel Co. offers a vast assortment of premium steel products in Pennsylvania, Ohio, the Southeast, and New England. Plus, our online resources help our clients build the best projects possible.

Today, we’re breaking down hot rolled vs cold rolled steel to help you understand which is better for your application.

Steel Manufacturing, Summarized

Not to be mistaken with the four main types of steel, the general steel manufacturing process falls into two main categories: hot-rolled and cold-rolled. This process starts with the extreme heating and consequent oxidation of mined steel ore. Basically, pieces of large, rectangular metal called billets are heated and flattened into sizable rolls. 

From there, the steel will either be hot rolled or cold rolled for its finalized design. “Rolling” refers to the vital step in the manufacturing process that involves forming the metal by using a series of rollers in an attempt to reshape it or enhance its properties. This formation method (hot or cold rolling) will determine the material’s ultimate function.

Hot Rolled vs Cold Rolled Finish Process

"In the conversation about hot-rolled vs. cold-finished products, all cold-finished products are hot-rolled, but hot-rolled products are not necessarily cold finished. Instead, it’s all a matter of how the bars are processed."

Once steel is heated past its recrystallization temperature (over 1700º F) it can be easily formed and sized. If the material isn’t processed further at room temperature, it’s considered hot-rolled. The steel that goes through further refinement processes is categorized as cold-rolled. Explore further metal rolling methodology differences, capabilities, and tolerances below!

Hot-Rolled Steel

As hot-rolled steel cools, it tends to shrink and form asymmetrically, allowing for more variation in shape and size. For this reason, hot-rolled steel is used in projects where the finished product doesn’t have specific dimensional requirements.

For example, one of the most commonly recognized forms of hot-rolled steel is sheet metal, which is frequently used in creating air ducts and motor vehicles. In these applications, surface finish and proportions don’t need to be precise.

As a result, hot-rolled steel is typically cheaper in price simply because it doesn’t involve any further processing. Since it doesn’t require any reheating, production costs for hot-rolled steel are much lower.

Cold-Finished Steel

That being said, cold-rolled steel needs reheating to further refine its structural properties. In order to achieve more exact dimensions and surface quality, the metal is re-rolled at a lower temperature. This supplemental rolling results in more specified attributes including exterior finish, durability, and dimensional parameters. 

PA Steel, for example, carries a variety of cold-finished bars in a range of grades and finishes for businesses all over the eastern United States. This equipment is used for creating products such as furniture, garages, and home appliances.

Although it’s typically up to 20% more durable than hot-rolled, cold-finished steel is limited to basic square, round, and flat shapes. Despite its improved resistance, the additional processing performed on cold-rolled metals may make it more susceptible to internal stress. Finalized materials need to be stress relieved prior to grinding or cutting to avoid potentially volatile warping or distortion.

Determining the Appropriate Steel Type

When considering hot vs cold rolled steel, the last step in the manufacturing process will influence the final product’s application. If tolerance, surface finish, symmetry, straightness, or aesthetics are a key factor in the project’s creation, cold-rolled steel is likely the ideal choice. Conversely, hot-rolled steel can be used for large-scale or low-budget operations that can account for dimensional changes as it cools.

Tolerance Variety

The table below outlines the varying tolerances of hot-rolled vs. cold-finished steel products:

Data source: rapiddirect.com/blog/hot-rolled-vs-cold-rolled-steel

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the environmental implications or sustainability factors associated with hot-rolled and cold-finished steel production processes?

The environmental implications of hot-rolled and cold-finished steel production processes differ significantly. Hot-rolled steel production generally consumes more energy due to the high temperatures involved, leading to higher greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, cold-finished steel may require more processing steps, potentially consuming more resources, but it can offer energy savings by not needing the extreme heat of hot rolling. Sustainability factors can vary depending on factors such as energy efficiency, material wastage, and water usage in each process.

How do the mechanical properties, such as strength, ductility, and toughness, differ between hot-rolled and cold-finished steel products?

The mechanical properties of hot-rolled and cold-finished steel products vary due to the different manufacturing processes. Hot-rolled steel typically has a rougher surface finish and less precise dimensions compared to cold-finished steel. Cold-finished steel tends to have improved dimensional accuracy, smoother surfaces, and higher tensile strength. Cold-finished steel may also exhibit better ductility and toughness compared to hot-rolled steel, making it more suitable for applications requiring precise dimensions and enhanced mechanical properties.

Are there specific industries or applications where cold-finished steel is preferred over hot-rolled steel and vice versa?

The preference for either cold-finished or hot-rolled steel in specific industries or applications depends on various factors. Cold-finished steel is often favored in industries requiring tight tolerances, excellent surface finish, and precise dimensional control, such as automotive manufacturing, aerospace, and construction. Hot-rolled steel is commonly used in structural applications where exact dimensions are less critical, such as in building construction, shipbuilding, and general fabrication. Understanding the requirements of the application, including factors like cost, aesthetics, and mechanical properties, helps in choosing the most suitable steel type for a particular industry or project.

Premium Steel and Pipe Supply From Pennsylvania Steel, Co.

Visit our new and improved website to browse our selection of high-quality products, including several varieties of cold and hot-rolled steel, plus carbon tubing, stainless steel, finished bars, and more. PA Steel Company employs an expert team of industry professionals that are prepared to supply you with the ideal metal for any size project. Browse our steel companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Richmond, Charlotte, Long Island, and more!

If you’re still having trouble figuring out the ideal steel production process for your project, check out our FAQ page or request a quote online today!

Aluminum hubcaps hanging on the wall

How to Polish Aluminum

Commonly used in appliances, car wheels, and cookware, aluminum is incredibly versatile. At the same time, the metal is prone to discoloration and corrosion, both of which can damage its finish. Fortunately, with polishing, you can keep an aluminum finish looking great long into the future.

Today, we’re here to share everything you need to know about polishing aluminum, including recommended materials, safety tips, and step-by-step instructions.

Aluminum Polishing Benefits

There are many reasons to polish aluminum, such as:

1. Appearance

You can remove nicks, scratches, and other aluminum defects with polishing, resulting in a smooth surface. Plus, polishing can give the metal a clean, professional look. 

2. Durability

Aluminum polishing can help improve the durability of the metal’s surface, reducing the risk of contamination and oxidation. 

3. Corrosion Resistance

Polishing provides corrosion resistance, as it helps make the surface of aluminum more resistant to chemical reactions. 

Many aluminum distributors understand the ins and outs of polishing aluminum. Of course, with the right supplies, you can polish aluminum on your own. 

Aluminum Polishing Supplies

Here are the supplies you’ll need to polish aluminum:

  • Aluminum pre-cleaning product
  • Aluminum polish
  • Protective eyewear and gloves 
  • Masking tape 
  • Mild dish detergent 
  • Stiff wire brush or fine steel wool 
  • Sandpaper in various grits 
  • Polishing compound 
  • Clean cloths or paper towels
  • Orbital sander

These supplies will help you quickly and efficiently polish aluminum, protect yourself and others from chemical and equipment hazards, and limit the risk of mistakes. 

How to Polish Aluminum to Mirror Finish

You can polish aluminum in three steps:

1. Clean the Metal

Remove dirt and grime from your aluminum. With minor buildup, use a mild detergent. Wash the surface, rinse it, and dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

If there’s still buildup on the surface, you may need to use a commercial aluminum pre-cleaning product. Once you apply this product, let it sit for a few minutes to loosen the buildup, then rinse it off. Repeat the process if buildup remains. You can also use a stiff wire brush or fine steel wool to remove debris. 

You won’t always be able to remove severe discoloration, scratches, and other surface flaws with cleaning or polishing. If you want to remove these blemishes from the surface of your aluminum before you polish it, you may need to sand them down. 

2. Sand the Metal

Before you start sanding, apply masking tape to the areas of your aluminum you don’t want to sand. Along with this, put on protective eyewear and gloves.

With sanding, begin with a low-grit sandpaper and work toward a finer grit. In many instances, a 320-grit abrasive works well. If you’re dealing with deep pits or gouges, you may want to go with a grit in the 180 to 250 range. Generally, you should not go below a 180-grit abrasive since it may damage your metal’s appearance. 

In terms of the grit to use when you sand the surface, work your way up. For example, you may start with a 320-grit abrasive to remove blemishes. Next, you can move up to a 400-grit abrasive to further prepare your metal for polishing. Depending on your project, you may want to go as high as 1,500 grit. 

3. Polish the Metal

If you want to polish an aluminum pan or any other metal surface that will have food on it, make your own polishing compound instead of using a product that’s made from chemicals. You can make this compound by combining equal parts of water and white vinegar or water and cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate). 

Apply a small amount of aluminum polish to the surface of your metal. Then, with a clean paper towel or cloth, wipe the surface using small, circular motions. 

After you remove the polishing residue, use another clean paper towel or cloth to buff the surface. When you do, use the same small, circular motions as before. 

For a large polishing job, you can use an angle grinder with an airway or muslin buffing wheel in lieu of completing the work by hand. When you use this tool, buff each section of aluminum and add more polishing compound as needed. When you’re finished, wipe down the polishing residue from the surface and change your grinder’s buffing wheel.

When you use a grinder with a buffing wheel for aluminum polishing, start with a coarse abrasive. For instance, you can begin with a gray metal buffing compound bar, move on to a brown tripoli, and finish with a white rouge buffing compound to give your aluminum a mirror finish. 

Aluminum Polishing Safety Tips

Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when you polish aluminum. Protective eyewear and gloves protect your eyes and hands when polishing chemicals and equipment. You can also protect exposed skin from the absorption of chemicals or metal with a barrier cream. 

If you are working in an enclosed space, you may need respiratory protection. This helps prevent inhalation of chemical fumes or metal dust. 

Additionally, tools used to grind and polish aluminum can be noisy, so you may want to wear earplugs or earmuffs to protect against noise hazards. 

Lastly, as you search for tools you can use to polish aluminum, consider their safety features. Tools are available with variable-direction exhausts, which allow you to direct toxic fumes away from you while you work. You can pick up handheld tools with shock-resistant handles to protect against vibration and hand fatigue. There are even tools with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) that help prevent electric shock.

Want Aluminum for Your Next Project?

In addition to providing tips and tricks for how to polish aluminum, Pennsylvania Steel Company serves as one of the leading aluminum suppliers in the northeast.

We offer a wide range of aluminum products for projects. We have multiple Pennsylvania, Southeast, Northeast, and Ohio aluminum distribution warehouses. Contact Pennsylvania Steel for aluminum near you.

Stainless steel in various steel grades

300 Series vs. 400 Series Stainless Steel: Key Differences to Keep in Mind

Stainless steel is an important building material in industries across the world. If you’re already confident that stainless steel is proper type of steel for your project, the next step is to understand how stainless steel grades can differ and what unique qualities they can offer for different projects.

Today, the steel experts at Pennsylvania Steel Company, which offers products such as tool steel, sheet steel, and plate steel, are breaking down two of their most popular grades, 300 series stainless steel and 400 series stainless steel. Keep reading to learn what makes them different and which you should choose for your project.

What are Stainless Steel Grades?

Stainless steel, at its basic level, is an alloy of chromium and iron. In addition to these metals, stainless steel may also include elements like: 

  • Carbon
  • Nickel
  • Manganese
  • Nitrogen
  • Sulfur
  • Copper

Stainless steel grades are determined by which elements they contain and the percentage of each present. Based on this, the alloy can take on different properties that make it suited for various applications.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed the three-digit grading system for stainless steel to reflect the elements present. 300 series and 400 series contain varying compositions reflected by the last two digits in the grade.

Other organizations, like the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), have their own numbering systems to categorize stainless steel. But this article will focus on the three-digit classification for simplicity.

While over 150 stainless steel grades are available on the market, Pennsylvania Steel Company specializes in 300 series and 400 series stainless steel.

Although all stainless steel offers high durability and resistance to rust and corrosion, there are some critical differences between the 300 series and 400 series that you should remember when choosing which is suitable for your project.

What is 300 Series Stainless Steel?

300 series stainless steel, also called SS 300, is the most popular stainless steel grade on the market. Due to its nickel content, SS 300 is non-magnetic and highly corrosion-resistant – even more so than other stainless steel grades. It also has high heat resistance, making it ideal for use in industries like:

  • Automotive production
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Construction
  • Machinery

While 300 series stainless steel is not heat-treatable like other grades, its high versatility makes it an excellent choice for projects that need to withstand long stretches of use in corrosive environments.

What is 400 Series Stainless Steel?

400 series stainless steel, or 400 SS, is made with little to no nickel content compared to its 300 series counterpart. While this makes it susceptible to rust under certain conditions, it also gives it superior toughness and resistance to damage from wear and abrasions.

400 SS used to make kitchen equipment

Because of its robustness and high durability, 400 SS finds much of its use in:

  • Tools
  • Kitchens and culinary services
  • Agriculture
  • Furnaces

 While it lacks the top-shelf rust resistance of the 300 series, 400 series stainless steel is both heat-treatable and magnetic, making it ideal for manufacturing objects that experience daily use and manipulation.

300 vs 400 Series Stainless Steel

Now that we’ve looked at what makes them unique, let’s review how 300 series and 400 series stainless steel grades compare side-by-side.

Composition

300 series contains nickel, making it more resistant to corrosion. 400 series has a higher carbon content, which makes it more resilient but more prone to rust.

Strength

300 series is more ductile than the 400 series and has less resistance to surface wear and tear. This makes the 300 series more suitable for sensitive applications like surgical instruments or machinery, whereas the 400 series’ hardness makes it ideal for hand tools or agricultural use.

Price Point

The 300 series is not heat-treatable, so it can be more expensive to manufacture. Due to this, the 400 series can be a more cost-effective option when there is a lower risk of exposure to corrosive elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine the exact percentage of each element in a specific grade of stainless steel, and how does this influence the material’s properties?

To determine the exact percentage of each element in a specific grade of stainless steel, it’s essential to refer to the standards set by organizations like the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). These organizations provide detailed specifications for each stainless steel grade, including the composition and percentage of elements.

The specific makeup of a stainless steel alloy influences its properties significantly. For instance, higher nickel content in the 300 series enhances corrosion resistance and ductility, making it suitable for environments where these properties are crucial. On the other hand, a higher carbon content in the 400 series increases hardness and strength, making it ideal for tools and applications where wear resistance is important. Understanding the composition of a stainless steel grade can help you select the right material for your project, ensuring it meets the desired durability, corrosion resistance, and mechanical properties.

Are there any environmental considerations or benefits in choosing one series over the other for a project?

When considering the environmental impact of choosing between the 300 and 400-series stainless steel for a project, several factors come into play. The material’s production process, recyclability, and longevity all contribute to its environmental footprint. Stainless steel, in general, is highly recyclable, which reduces its long-term environmental impact. However, the nickel content in the 300 series, while enhancing corrosion resistance and making it more suitable for harsh environments, also involves more complex and potentially environmentally intensive mining and processing compared to the materials used in the 400 series. On the other hand, the durability and corrosion resistance of the 300 series may lead to longer product life, potentially reducing the need for replacement and, consequently, the environmental impact associated with production and disposal. Ultimately, the choice between the two series should consider the specific application’s environmental conditions and the material’s lifecycle impact.

How does the magnetism of the 400 series stainless steel affect its use in certain applications compared to the non-magnetic 300 series?

The magnetism of the 400 series stainless steel, attributed to its composition, makes it ideal for applications requiring magnetic responsiveness, such as in motors, generators, and electrical appliances. Conversely, the non-magnetic 300 series is preferred in settings where magnetic interference must be avoided, like in medical equipment used during MRI procedures or in certain electronic devices to prevent circuitry interference. The choice between the two series often hinges on the specific application’s need for or against magnetic properties, influencing their suitability across various industries.

Let Pennsylvania Steel Company Build with You!

Pennsylvania Steel Company has been a trusted provider of stainless steel products for over 50 years. Our company is dedicated to providing total care and attention to each customer’s needs, and we offer next-day service in most of our locations. 

If you’re ready to begin your next project, request a quote online or call one of our steel companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania; Bethpage, NY; Naugatuck, CT; Stanley, NC; or Ashland, VA for more information about our wide variety of 300 series and 400 series stainless steel products!

Aluminum vs steel

Aluminum vs Steel: Which is Better for Your Project?

The steel vs aluminum debate is ongoing. If you’re getting ready to kick off a construction project, there are pros and cons to using either of these metals. To help you determine which metal you should select in the aluminum vs steel debate, we’ve put together a list of five factors to consider. 

1. Corrosion Resistance

A metal’s corrosion resistance refers to its ability to withstand the elements and other conditions without changing. 

Generally, aluminum offers better corrosion resistance than steel. There are several reasons why. 

First, aluminum oxidizes in the same way iron rusts. However, when this happens, aluminum oxide remains on the metal. This helps protect aluminum against corrosion. It also means you won’t have to add paint or another coating to shield your aluminum from rusting. 

Meanwhile, after you spin carbon steel, you may need to paint it to safeguard the metal against corrosion and rust. And in many instances, zinc is used to guard against corrosion when this type of steel is galvanized. 

Comparatively, stainless steel protects against corrosion but can still rust. If this type of steel rusts, you may be able to scrub away the damage. At this point, the steel’s chromium shield will start to rebuild itself. 

2. Strength 

In terms of strength, steel is the superior choice over aluminum. 

Steel is harder, denser, and heavier than aluminum. These things help make it less likely that steel will bend when exposed to heat or force.

Due in part to its strength and weight, automakers commonly use steel to manufacture cars. However, some car companies have used aluminum, which helps them build lightweight frames that promote fuel efficiency.

3. Malleability

If you want a flexible metal, aluminum may be better than steel. 

Aluminum offers plenty of design freedom, giving you the flexibility to form the metal into a wide range of custom configurations. 

If you try to form these same configurations with steel, the metal may break due to its stiffness. 

4. Cost

Steel and aluminum prices change frequently, since both metals are constantly in demand. 

In many instances, steel is more affordable than aluminum. 

For example, you may pay less for mild or carbon steel than aluminum. 

On the other hand, stainless steel may cost more than aluminum. 

Along with these things, it may be more economical to create a custom shape or profile out of aluminum than trying to do the same thing with steel. 

5. Weldability

Welding may be more challenging with aluminum versus steel. 

Common ways to weld steel include:

  • Stick Welding: Involves the use of a flux-coated electrode.
  • Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding: Requires a continuous solid electrode wire that’s heated and put into a weld pool via a welding gun. 
  • Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW): Lets you use a tungsten electrode to join steel and other metals.
  • Flux Core Welding: Consists of a wire electrode that goes from a welding gun through a joint.

With any of these steel welding methods, applying too much heat may impact the quality of your results. 

Much in the same vein, welding aluminum may be difficult because the metal is highly sensitive and protected by an oxidized layer. These may make aluminum susceptible to impurities and lead to weak welds. 

If you want to weld aluminum, preparing your metal is key. Here are things you can do to get aluminum ready to weld:

  • Apply an acetone or other mild solvent to remove grease, oil, or other impurities from the metal’s surface. 
  • Utilize a stainless steel brush to get rid of surface oxides.
  • Make sure your aluminum is dry and stored at room temperature. 

MIG and GTAW are two of the most commonly used methods for welding aluminum. 

In addition to these, you may be able to use laser beam and electron welding, which allows you to apply a precise amount of heat to a specific zone. 

You may also perform resistance welding, which enables you to apply pressure and pass a current through areas of the metal you want to join. 

How to Choose Metal for Your Project

If you are debating between aluminum vs stainless steel or similar metals, there is no shortage of options at your disposal. 

Here are tips to help you select the best metal for your project:

  • Determine the Application: Think about your project’s purpose, and you can narrow your search to metals that’ll help you achieve your desired results. 
  • Put Together a Budget: Figure out how much money you have to spend, as this may dictate the type of metal you use and other aspects of your project. 
  • Connect with Steel and Aluminum Distributors: Find a distributor to get insights into metal products so you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision.  

Pennsylvania Steel Company is an aluminum and steel distributor that offers an extensive collection of products from our regional warehouses across Pennsylvania, New England, the Southeast, and Ohio.

Our team can help you choose between aluminum and steel and find metal products that deliver long-lasting results. 

Contact Pennsylvania Steel to purchase aluminum or steel products in your area.

Steel manufacturing

How Is Steel Made?

Steel is a hard, tough, strong, and versatile metal used in commercial and residential projects. It comes in many forms, and how it’s made varies based on the application.

Let’s explore steel, how it’s made, and how you may be able to use it during your next project. 

What Is Steel?

Steel refers to an alloy made up of carbon and iron, according to the World Steel Association (WSA). The alloy contains less than 2% carbon and 1% manganese. It has trace amounts of phosphorus, sulfur, oxygen, and silicon. 

Globally, steel and iron represent 95% of all tonnage of metal produced every year, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) points out. This is due in part to the fact that both of these metals are some of the least expensive to produce. Additionally, they work well in applications like steel frames for buildings where only strong metals will suffice. 

Types of Steel

There are four main types of steel:

  • Carbon: Consists primarily of carbon and iron, with small amounts of magnesium, chromium, and other elements. 
  • Alloy: Contains chromium, copper, and other elements. 
  • Stainless: Features at least 10.5% chromium. 
  • Tool: Includes carbon and alloy varieties. 

There are more than 3,500 steel grades, each with its own physical, chemical, and environmental properties. 

Steel Properties

There are three subcategories of carbon: 

  • Low: Less than 0.3% carbon 
  • Medium: 0.3–0.6% carbon 
  • High: Greater than 0.6% carbon 

Low-carbon steel is more flexible and easier to handle than medium and high varieties. Meanwhile, high-carbon steel is the strongest of the three.

With alloy, how much of a particular element is incorporated into the steel impacts the metal’s heat resistance, hardness, ductility, and other properties.

Like carbon, there are three subcategories of stainless steel:

  • Austenitic: Contains 18% chromium, 8% nickel, and less than 0.8% carbon.
  • Ferritic: Consists of 10.5-27% chromium and less than 0.1% carbon.
  • Martensitic: Includes 11-17% chromium, less than 0.4% nickel, and less than 1.2% carbon.

Stainless steel is more stain and corrosion resistant than other varieties. It can also include a concentrated chromium coating that makes the material rust-proof. 

Tool steel offers high hardness and resistance to abrasions. It tends to retain its shape better than other steel options.

Steel Use Cases

Construction companies and automakers commonly use carbon steel. Low-carbon steel products include nails, wires, chains, and pipes. Since high carbon is more durable than low and medium options, it’s often utilized to produce wrenches, hammers, coils, and springs.

Commercial equipment manufacturers tend to use alloy steel over other varieties. Examples of alloy steel products include power generators, transformers, and pipelines. 

Stainless steel is used in construction, oil and gas, kitchenware, and many other industries. It has been incorporated into cars, cutlery, and other products.

Tool steel is utilized to produce surgical equipment, drills, dyes, bits, and other tools. 

How Is Steel Made Exactly? 

There are three main processes for how steel is made:

1. Blast Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace (BF-BOF)

The BF-BOF process originated in the 1950s in the Austrian cities of Linz and Donawitz. It typically involves using iron ore, coal, and recycled steel. 

Here are the steps of the BF-BOF process:

  • Hot metal or pig iron, steel scrap, and flux (burnt lime) are loaded into a top- or bottom-blown furnace or a combination of the two. 
  • A lancie (a water-cooled metal tube) blogs oxygen into the mixture.
  • The oxygen then reacts with the silicon and carbon. This causes the hot metal to dissolve. It also generates heat, carbon dioxide (CO₂), silicon dioxide (SiO₂), and other impurities. 
  • CO₂ is expelled as gas, and SiO₂ and other impurities are absorbed into slag, aka waste matter. 

A study shows that basic oxygen furnaces can reduce total cycle time to less than a tenth of open hearth furnace cycle time. 

Approximately 70% of steel globally is produced via the BAF process, WSA notes. 

2. Electric Arc Furnace (EAF)

The EAF process primarily uses recycled steel and electricity to produce steel. Along with these, direct-reduced iron (DRI), hot metal, or other sources of metallic iron can be utilized. 

An electric arc furnace consists of three parts: 

  • Spherical hearth (bottom)
  • Cylindrical shell 
  • Swinging water-cooled dome-shaped roof

An EAF can produce batches of molten steel known as “heats,” the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) points out. 

The furnace’s operating cycle consists of the following steps:

  • Furnace-Charging: The furnace’s roof and electrodes are raised and swung to the side, allowing a scrap-charging crane to move scrap into place over the furnace. 
  • Melting: Electrical or chemical energy supplies energy to the furnace’s interior via graphite electrodes and is bore into the scrap. 
  • Refining: Phosphorus, sulfur, silicon, aluminum, manganese, and carbon are removed from the steel. 
  • De-Slagging: Impurities are removed from the furnace.
  • Tapping: After the optimal steel composition and temperature have been achieved in the furnace, a tap-hole is opened, the furnace is tilted on its side, and the steel is poured into a ladle so it can be transferred. Bulk alloys and de-oxidizers may be added to the steel during this time. The alloys are produced based on a bath analysis and the intended steel grade. De-oxidizers can be used to lower the steel’s oxygen content.
  • Furnace Turn-Around: The furnace’s electrodes and roof are raised, and its lining is inspected for damage. This period runs from the completion of tapping until the furnace is recharged. 

EAFs are less costly to build and more flexible than basic oxygen furnaces, The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum indicates. They can be used to create carbon and alloy steels.

According to research, roughly 25% of steel produced worldwide is made through the EAF process. 

3. Open Hearth Furnace (OHF)

An open hearth furnace uses the heat from gaseous or liquid fuel combustion to transform recycled steel scrap and liquid blast-furnace iron into liquid steel. 

The OHF process requires roughly equal amounts of iron and scrap. It involves the following steps:

  • Limestone and scrap are placed into the furnace. 
  • The charge melts.
  • Molten or cold iron are added to the furnace. 
  • The furnace continues to be heated, and carbon from the iron transforms into carbon monoxide (CO). 
  • Impurities are separated from the mixture.
  • Molten steel forms and flows into a ladle where alloying materials can be added.

This process makes up about 0.4% of steel production worldwide, WSA says. It tends to require a lot of time and energy and can be expensive compared to the BF-BOF and EAF processes. 

How Sustainability Impacts Steel Manufacturing

You can use recycled steel scrap as an input for each of these production processes. Most new steel includes recycled scrap. 

Generally, steel products can be used for decades before they need to be recycled. This makes it difficult for steel companies to rely exclusively on EAF. 

Steel companies often use BF-BOF and EAF to keep pace with the demand for steel products. They may also utilize OHF to minimize the loss of iron as slag since the process is slow and easy to control. 

How Is Stainless Steel Made?

EAF can be used to create stainless steel. Here’s how the process works:

  • Carbon electrodes come into contact with recycled stainless scrap and chromium alloys.
  • A current moves through the electrode, and a temperature reaches a point where the alloys and scrap melt (around 2,200-2,500°F).
  • The molten material goes from the furnace into an argon oxygen decarburization (AOD) vessel, reduces carbon levels, and adds alloys. 

Most stainless steels also get a final heat treatment that softens their structure (annealing) and acid wash (pickling), according to the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA).

Get the Best Steel for Sale for Your Project

Pennsylvania Steel Company offers a range of steel types and grades for your next project. We provide steel products and services in many areas, including:

  • Bensalem, Whitehall, and York, Pennsylvania 
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Connecticut 
  • Long Island
  • Cleveland and Alliance, Ohio

Contact Pennsylvania Steel Co. for steel near you.

aluminum supplier pa steel co

How is Aluminum Made?

Although it’s the most abundant metallic element in the Earth’s crust, aluminum never occurs in its metallic form in nature. Its compounds, however, are present in nearly every form of vegetation, mineral, and animal. So, how is aluminum made?

When the silvery-white metal is isolated (first achieved in 1825), we wind up with the periodic element Aluminum (Al). Thanks to the modern method of producing aluminum, it surpassed copper in world production of nonferrous metals back in the 1960s. Today’s seamless process – electrolysis of purified alumina dissolved in cryolite – has allowed aluminum to remain widely used in several settings for decades. In this article, the aluminum distributors at Pennsylvania Steel Company break down everything you need to know about aluminum and its production process.

Basic Properties & Structure

What is aluminum?

Natural aluminum compounds are universally present in igneous rocks and various gemstones. Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians used organic clay for assorted projects, including pottery, medicines, and textiles. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that experts recognized aluminum for its application as a metal.

The versatility of this metal is due to its ability to be combined with other alloys (ex: magnesium or silicon) in small amounts to diversify its applications. Although pure aluminum is malleable and somewhat brittle, commercial aluminum is very strong while still relatively flexible.

aluminum periodic table

What's the difference between aluminum and steel?

Steel is more rigid than traditional aluminum and is more durable because it’s more than twice as dense. Both steel and aluminum consist of a combination of two elements. Steel contains iron and carbon, while aluminum contains bauxite and cryolite.

Features & Manufacturing Process

How is aluminum made?

Stage 1: Finding the Ore

  • As previously mentioned, the metallic aluminum alloy doesn’t appear anywhere in nature. As a result, it can only be extracted from naturally occurring compounds.
  • Ore is the natural rock or sediment that contains one or more valuable minerals in the form of clay, slate, or granite sediments. The essential aluminum ore is bauxite. Bauxite is commonly found in deposits close to the Earth’s surface and contains about 52% aluminum oxide with iron oxide impurities.

Stage 2: Mining

  • Investigatory drilling allows geologists and researchers to determine the location of bauxite deposits for mining alumina. Once found, they extract the bauxite and remove the earth using various methods, including blasting, drilling, and ripping with specialized bulldozers. The resulting product is alumina: the raw, crystalline form of bauxite. 
  • Four tons of high-quality bauxite will produce approximately two tons of alumina, from which producers can manufacture about a ton of pure aluminum.

Stage 3: Refining the Bauxite (Using the Bayer Process)

  • In the first step of the Bayer Process (Digestion), the bauxite is ground, mixed with caustic soda, and pressurized. This step separates unwanted impurities and forms what is known as sodium aluminate.
  • The second step (Clarification) involves reducing the pressure, removing the separated impurities, and cooling the clarified solution.
  • In step three (Precipitation), the addition of aluminum hydroxide seed crystals results in precipitation, causing the aluminum to become solid.
  • The fourth and final step (Calcination) entails a thermal treatment process using rotary kilns. This heating method removes remaining impurities, and the subsequent material is the alumina or aluminum oxide.

Stage 4: Smelting

  • The last stage of aluminum processing is called smelting, also referred to as the Hall-Héroult process, invented in 1886. Smelting, which takes place in steel reduction pots, extricates the aluminum from the alumina.
  • The resulting molten solution – 99.8% pure – is poured into molds and cast. Subsequently, it can be alloyed with other metals or refined to create super pure aluminum (99.99%).

Why choose aluminum metal for my project?

If you’re trying to determine the appropriate alloy for your construction project, you may consider multifaceted aluminum for its many benefits:

  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Impermeable
  • Recyclable
  • Odorless
  • Corrosion Resistance
  • Ductility
  • Electrical and Thermal Conductivity
aluminum supplier near me

Applications & Sustainability

What is aluminum used for?

Since this alloy is so versatile, its applications span enterprises and industries of all types. Some of the most recognizable aluminum functions include aerospace construction, food-processing equipment, household appliances, and electrical conductors. Because of its high corrosion resistance and conductivity, aluminum is ideal for manufacturing various consumer and commercial products.

If you want to use aluminum in your next project, check out our tips for safe aluminum welding.

Is aluminum sustainable?

While the mining and electricity used to make new aluminum have an environmental impact, many consider aluminum to be a sustainable metal because of its ability to be recycled. Aluminum’s durability means it can be recycled over and over without a loss of quality. In fact, almost 75% of aluminum ever made is still being used today. Plus, aluminum is lighter than many other metals, meaning it’s more eco-friendly to ship than other metal choices.

Contact Pennsylvania Steel for Premium Aluminum

Are you looking for top-quality metal and alloy supplies near you? Pennsylvania Steel Company is the trusted manufacturer for premium metals all over the east coast and beyond – from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Long Island, New York to Cleveland, Ohio. The best aluminum supply company is your nearest PA Steel sales office, where our team is eager to provide you with superior materials for your next project. Contact our sales offices in Pennsylvania, New England/New York, the Southeast, or Ohio to receive fast, dependable customer support regarding local inquiries.

Closeup of a torch welding stainless steel

How to Weld Stainless Steel: Your Guide to Getting Started

Stainless steel is durable and strong, and some people choose to weld it during projects. There are many advantages to welding stainless steel. But if you’re not careful, you can make costly and time-intensive mistakes when you do.

At Pennsylvania Steel Company, we know all about the benefits of using stainless steel over other types of steel for certain projects. If you have concerns or questions about how to weld stainless steel, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn about stainless steel welding.

Can You Weld Stainless Steel?

You can weld stainless steel — and the benefits of doing so can be significant. Some of the reasons why people choose to weld stainless steel include:

  • Corrosion Resistance: When choosing between carbon steel and stainless steel, people often prefer the latter since it has a chromium oxide layer that protects against damage from chemicals, salts, and other harmful elements.
  • Aesthetics: With its clean, shiny appearance, this type of steel is an attractive choice for countertops, backsplashes, and other kitchen components.
  • Fire and Heat Resistance: Stainless steel has a high melting point that helps the metal maintain its integrity, even when it’s exposed to fire or extreme heat.

Types of Stainless Steel Welding

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all with the welding of stainless steel. There are several methods that steel distributors use for welding this type of steel, including:

Stick

Stick welding, also referred to as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), involves the use of a rod electrode and workpiece. It is often used to construct pipelines.  

Metal Inert Gas (MIG)

With MIG welding, you feed a continuous solid wire electrode through a welding gun and into a weld pool to join two materials. This type of welding is commonly used for fabrication and maintenance or repair work.   

Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG)

Also referred to as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), this type of welding requires an electric arc between a tungsten electrode and a workpiece. TIG welding is frequently used by automakers and aerospace professionals since it allows them to produce quality welds on thin materials.

Safety Precautions to Consider Before You Weld Stainless Steel 

You don’t have to be a steel distributor to weld stainless steel. Regardless, there are hazards that you need to consider before you get started. These include:

Toxic Fumes

Welding stainless steel emits toxic fumes. Exposure to toxic fumes can lead to asthma, dermatitis, and other short- and long-term health problems.

You can use a fume extractor to eliminate toxic fumes when you’re welding. If you’re welding in a large area, you can install a filtration system that ensures clean air is filtered back into your workspace.

Electricity

Arc welding involves the use of electricity. Thus, you’re susceptible to electric shock when you weld.

To protect against electric shock, you should never rest your arms, legs, or any other body parts on your workpiece. Along with this, stand on plywood, a rubber mat, or other dry insulation when you’re welding. You should also wear dry gloves and never touch an electrode or metal parts of an electrode holder with your bare skin.

Injuries 

Burns represent the most common welding injuries. Meanwhile, welders are also prone to eye and skin injuries. 

Welding injuries often occur when welders choose not to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or wear PPE that’s defective. Therefore, it is paramount to pick up high-quality gloves, a welding helmet, and other PPE before you start welding stainless steel. Wear your PPE any time you’re welding.

How to Weld Stainless Steel

When you’re ready, you can start welding. Doing so typically involves the following three-step process:

1. Prepare Your Steel 

Remove paint, rust, oil, and other potential contaminants from your steel. Make sure that all of your steel pieces are lined up correctly and that there aren’t any joint gaps or variations. And if you have thick pieces, bevel or chamfer them as needed.

2. Weld Your Steel

Decide how you want to join your base metals. You can choose from any of the following types of joints:

  • Butt Joint
  • Corner Joint
  • Edge Joint
  • Lap  Joint
  • Tee Joint

You can use one or more of these options when you’re welding stainless steel. 

From here, select the welding process you want to use, the appropriate inert shielding gas, and the applicable filler metal. Next, determine the parameters for your work. 

At this point, you’re good to get started. Apply a low level of heat initially — otherwise, if you set the amps for your heat too high, you may compromise your project. Weld slowly and cautiously.

3. Finish Your Welding

Don’t expect perfection the first time you weld stainless steel. For example, heat tint is common when welding this type of steel. Fortunately, heat tint solutions are readily available that you can use to address this issue.

Turn to a Trusted Steel Distributor

You can weld stainless steel on your own, but doing so may be more trouble than it’s actually worth. When you have a trusted steel distributor at your side, you can get the best stainless steel products and services — without ever having to worry about welding.

Pennsylvania Steel Company has been a leading provider of stainless steel products and services for over 50 years. Our team proudly serves customers with Pennsylvania, New England, the Southeast, and Ohio steel warehouses, and other parts of the United States. We can help you get the most value out of your stainless steel project.

Request a quote from the trusted steel distributors at Pennsylvania Steel Company for stainless steel for your next project.

The Top 6 Tips For Welding Aluminum

When it comes to welding, one method doesn’t fit all. Certain qualities can make welding aluminum a challenge. Leading East Coast steel company and metal manufacturer Pennsylvania Steel Co. provides insight into the processing and production of construction materials. Below, we offer professional advice for ensuring a safe and effective aluminum welding process.

Aluminum Characteristics

Commercial aluminum alloys offer impressive strength-to-weight ratios and corrosion resistance. These qualities make aluminum a desirable and practical engineering material.

Aluminum is available in numerous forms and grades. They differ in purity, hardness, ductility, thermal conductivity, and various other properties. In other words, aluminum exists in a vast range of types. Here are several commonly utilized grades:

  1. 1100 Aluminum (the purest form of aluminum commercially available)
  2. 3003 Aluminum (most frequently used in the industry, pure aluminum with an addition of manganese)
  3. 5052 Aluminum (excellent resistance against salt water corrosion)
  4. 6061 Aluminum (most commonly used aluminum alloy in construction)
  5. 6063 Aluminum (often referred to as the “architectural alloy” for its use in building structures)

The specific grade of aluminum speaks to its chemical composition and how aluminum is made. These attributes determine the material’s ultimate application and price point.

Can You Weld Aluminum?

You can weld aluminum, but standard welding methods can be unsafe and ineffective. Aluminum is highly sensitive, susceptible to impurities, and offers a small window of workability. Since pure aluminum is soft and malleable, adding various alloys creates its diversified range of types. Although the element naturally has a low melting point, the tough exterior oxide layer complicates the welding process. 

Why is Welding Aluminum Difficult?

Specific metal properties can make them challenging to weld. For example:

  • Oxidation: the chemical reaction that occurs at the surface of a metal when exposed to oxygen.
  • Porousness: measurement of permeability and other energy absorption properties.
  • Impurities: the presence of trace amounts of other elements.
  • Thickness: the metal’s “gauge,” expressed in mm (millimeters).

Physical properties vary widely in terms of aluminum grades and often present obstacles when welding. The following characteristics can make aluminum difficult to weld:

  • High thermal conductivity (resulting in high dissipation of heat)
  • Hydrogen solubility (causing excessive porosity)
  • Oxide layer (requiring thorough cleaning/preparation)

Types of Aluminum Welding

When it comes to welding aluminum, there are a number of welding methods to choose from. The best one for each project depends on the specific use case.

GTAW/TIG Welding

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), commonly known as TIG welding, is a popular precision welding process for aluminum. It uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode and an inert gas to create a clean and controlled arc. It is ideal for welding thin aluminum sheets or intricate designs while producing minimal spatter.

GMAW/MIG Welding

During Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), or MIG welding, a welder feeds a continuous wire electrode through a welding gun with a shielding gas to protect the weld pool from contamination. This process is efficient for high-speed production and thicker aluminum sections, providing good weld penetration and strong, dependable results.

Laser Beam and Electron Beam Welding

Laser beam and electron beam welding are advanced processes that welders can use for aluminum. These methods use concentrated energy beams to melt and fuse the aluminum surfaces with pinpoint accuracy, making them suitable for applications where precision and minimal heat-affected zones are critical.

Resistance Welding

​​Resistance welding is a method used for aluminum, particularly in the automotive and aerospace industries. It passes an electrical current through the aluminum parts to cause the metals to fuse. With aluminum, the welder must be cautious of the high electrical and thermal conductivity.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

Due to its limitations, SMAW, or stick welding, is not the primary choice for aluminum. It involves a consumable electrode covered with a flux coating, making it better suited for welding steel. However, welders use it for aluminum in specific applications with specialized electrodes and techniques.

Friction Welding

Friction welding bonds aluminum through a solid-state process. It involves rubbing the aluminum parts together to generate heat through friction and then applying pressure to join them. When welders require high-strength, reliable bonds, they may use friction welding.

6 Tips for Welding Aluminum

Pennsylvania Steel Co. specializes in metal processing services for commercial fabricators throughout the United States. We possess decades of expertise in the metal production industry. By sharing our expert knowledge, we strive to educate our valued clientele. Above all else, Pennsylvania Steel Co. values its partners’ and customers’ safety, loyalty, and trust. Properly and safely execute your next aluminum weld by following the expert advice we’ve provided below. We also have a guide on how to weld steel if you have a different material in mind.

1) Clean and prepare your material thoroughly.

Proper preparation of your aluminum alloy is essential to effective welding. Cleaning and degreasing the metal beforehand removes the outer oxide layer. Adequate removal of this tough layer exposes the raw aluminum material, which has a much lower melting point. For reference, pure aluminum melts at 1200ºF while the oxide layer melts at 3700ºF.

2) Correctly store your aluminum materials. 

Adequately storing prepped aluminum prevents re-oxidation. As stated, the oxide layer is tough to remove. You want to avoid additional preparation and scrubbing.

3) Use a heat sink.

A heat sink is a supplemental component that absorbs or dissipates unwanted heat. The appropriate heat sink ensures optimized thermal transfer during the weld.

4) Tailor your technique for different building materials.

As previously mentioned, aluminum’s complex chemical structure can complicate welding as it’s highly sensitive. Before diving in, take the time to do your research, assess your materials, and refine your technique.

5) Always wear proper PPE.

Once again, we aim to educate and protect our clientele. As a result, we urge all of our fabricators to wear the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when processing or working with any metal. When welding aluminum, for example, we highly recommend wearing a respirator!

6) Be patient and don’t rush.

Speeding through the welding process is undoubtedly dangerous. No matter how much PPE you wear, the best protection is practiced knowledge!

Allow the Pros at Pennsylvania Steel to Simplify the Welding and Production Process

Our goal at Pennsylvania Steel Company is the success of our valued clientele. We’re advancing this sustainable industry by sharing our expertise, providing superior customer service, and supplying metal fabricators all over the eastern U.S. Beyond our Bensalem, PA facility, we have Pennsylvania, New York, Richmond, Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio steel warehouse locations. We take pride in being a superior steel and pipe supplier and processor for manufacturing businesses throughout the U.S.

Our passion for advancing the steel trade stands over 50 years strong. Numerous industries – including the construction, defense, and technology sectors – rely on our experienced steel company as a vital source of premium metal production and processing services. We’re committed to facilitating growth – as a company, as an industry, and as a community. Request a quote or contact our metal specialists for inquiries regarding our product lines and services. 

Man drilling into carbon steel

Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel: Which is Better for Your Project?

Carbon vs stainless steel: which one is better? The answer depends on the project. If you know the difference between stainless and carbon steel, you can decide which one lines up with your project goals.  

Pennsylvania Steel Co. is a leading choice for steel products and services in the eastern United States. We can teach you everything you need to know about the stainless steel vs carbon steel debate. Plus, we can show you when to use carbon steel vs stainless steel and vice versa. That way, you can make an informed decision about what type of steel is the best option for your next project.

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is the world’s most popular metal — and it is easy to understand why. This type of steel consists of iron and carbon, along with chromium and other alloying elements that protect against corrosion. This helps protect against rust that commonly occurs with standard steel.

Along with corrosion resistance, stainless steel offers amazing strength and durability compared to other types of steel. It can also withstand high and low temperatures without deteriorating, is easy to clean, and maintains its appearance for a long time.

What Is Carbon Steel?

Like stainless steel, carbon steel contains carbon and iron. However, it contains less alloy than stainless steel. Also, the composition of carbon steel can be up to 2% carbon. And a high volume of carbon can strengthen a piece of carbon steel to the point where it becomes nearly impossible to bend.

Carbon steel is often used in knives and other tools since it will likely retain its shape over time. Of course, carbon steel can still be brittle. If this type of steel is exposed to a high amount of pressure, it is more likely to break than bend. 

Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel: Which One Is Right for You?

If you are unsure about when to use carbon steel vs stainless steel, you are not alone. Fortunately, we know the differences between carbon and stainless steel and are happy to share them with you. 

Here’s a look at the key differences between these two types of steel.

1. Carbon Content

The basic ingredients of these steel options are identical. Yet, it is important to note that every steel is an alloy, but each one is not necessarily an alloy steel.

Stainless steel tends to have a carbon content of less than 1.2%. Comparatively, carbon steel has a carbon content of up to 2.5%, and the high level of carbon helps make this type of steel less prone to bending than its stainless counterpart.

2. Chromium Content 

Carbon steel has less than 10.5% chromium content, while stainless is at or above this level. Chromium protects against moisture that can otherwise cause steel to rust. Therefore, stainless steel is less likely to rust than carbon.

3. Visual Appeal 

You can probably tell the difference between stainless and carbon steel at first glance. Stainless is a shiny metal that continues to dazzle long after it’s produced. Meanwhile, carbon is strong but nowhere near as shiny as stainless. 

When to Use Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel

Low, medium, or high-carbon steel can be used in everything from food cans to high-strength steel wire. For example, an automaker may utilize low-carbon steel to build car parts. Medium carbon steel can be utilized in things like railways and gears. High-carbon steel is commonly used for knives and repair tools.

It is common for companies to choose carbon steel pipe options over other types of piping. This is due to the fact that carbon steel piping tends to be stronger and more durable than many comparable options. 

Stainless steel is a top choice in the culinary industry. It is frequently used in kitchen pans, shelves, appliances, and utensils.

Along with the culinary sector, hospitals may invest in stainless steel shelves since they are simple to clean and maintain. To date, stainless steel piping systems have been used by companies in petrochemical, food processing, and other industries.

If you want to weld steel, check out our guide on how to weld steel to get started.

High-Quality Steel from Pennsylvania Steel Company 

Pennsylvania Steel Co. offers carbon and stainless steel products and services to companies of all sizes and across all sectors. If you are weighing the pros and cons of carbon and stainless steel for your next project, we’re here to help you out.

Contact Pennsylvania Steel Co. for all of your steel needs with fast delivery options. Our Pennsylvania, Southeast, Northeast, and Ohio steel distribution centers make it easy to get what you need quickly. For more information or to request a free quote, please get in touch with us today.

Expanded metal sizing

Your Guide to Expanded Metal Sizing

Stainless steel expanded metal grating is commonly used for flooring, shelving, security screens, and barriers. Expanded metal grating is also considered one of the most economical materials for industrial, architectural, and commercial applications.

Pennsylvania Steel Co. offers a variety of stainless steel expanded metal and grating products. We can walk you through our expanded metal sizes and help you quickly and easily identify your project’s ideal expanded metal sizing.  

What Are the Types of Expanded Metal?

Common types of expanded metal include: 

1. Standard

Available in many gauges and open sizes, standard expanded metal features strands and bonds set at the same angle. This boosts the metal’s power and rigidity. At the same time, it improves the metal’s airflow.

2. Flattened

Flattened expanded metal is produced through cold rolling. It’s a great option if you want a smooth surface.

3. Hexagonal

Air, light, fire, sound, and liquid can seamlessly move through hexagonal expanded metal. At the same time, the hexagonal shape strengthens the metal.

4. Architectural

Architectural expanded metal features a diamond design with distinct aesthetic elements. For a terrific mix of style and function, go with architectural expanded metal.  

5. Micro 

This consists of a light gauge metal with small holes. It can also have flattened, regular, hexagonal, or square openings.

How to Measure Expanded Metal 

Measuring expanded metal grating

To measure expanded metal, you first need to consider whether the metal is raised or flattened.

In its original form, expanded metal has a raised appearance in which angular strands incline from the plane of the sheet. You’ll want to account for the following measurements: 

  • Longway Pitch: Horizontal measurement from center to center based on the size of the tool used during production
  • Shortway Pitch: Vertical measurement from center to center based on the expansion that occurs during production
  • Strand Width: Measurement of the width of the angular strand that forms during production
  • Strand Thickness: Measurement of expanded metal thickness

With flattened expanded metal, measure the longway and shortway aperture in addition to strand width and thickness. Longway aperture refers to the horizontal measurement from one internal aperture point to another. Shortway aperture is the vertical measurement from one internal aperture point to another.

What Do Expanded Metal Numbers Mean?

Expanded metal numbers denote the metal’s dimension and gauge. The first number indicates the metal’s nominal dimension or short way of design (SWOD), and the second number typically indicates the metal’s gauge or weight per 100 square feet.

How Do You Read Expanded Metal Sizes?

An expanded metal size chart is generally used to read expanded metal sizes. This chart includes the following columns:

  • Style: Based on a measurement of the edge of the expanded metal to the straight edge and may include a letter at the beginning to denote the material (for example: “A” for aluminum)
  • Weight: Measured in pounds per square foot
  • Opening Size (in inches): Denotes the metal’s SWOD and long way of design (the diagonal length of the long diamond)
  • Strand Size (in inches): Indicates the strand’s width and thickness
  • Approximate Open Area %: Represents the approximate area of an irregular region surrounded by curves

If you have more questions about expanded metal dimensions, the experienced team at PA Steel is happy to help. 

Pennsylvania Steel Company Is Here for Your Metal Needs 

We own and operate regional steel warehouses in Bensalem, Whitehall, and York, Pennsylvania, along with Richmond, Charlotte, New England, Long Island, Cleveland and many other locations across the northeast. If you want expanded metal services, we’ve got you covered.

For more information about our expanded metal services or to request an expanded metal project quote, please get in touch with us today.