How to differentiate sheet vs plate

What is the Difference between Sheet, Plate, and Foil?

Aluminum sheet and aluminum plate are both widely used and respected due to the metal’s light-weight strength, along with high corrosion resistance. But what is the difference between sheet, plate, and foil?

When choosing between the three types of products, the only difference is the thickness – with plate being thickest and foil the thinnest. However, the exact thicknesses separating the categories depend upon the application, the metal in question, the gauge, and product specifications.

Independent & Inconsistent Metal Standards

Historically, gauges were the standards used to specify the thickness of metal wires before new, more accurate measurement technology was developed. Each industry created its own standards independently, and as a result, gauge numbers vary for aluminum, copper, brass, and different types of steel.

For example, the Dictionary of Units of Measurement defines 10 gauge aluminum as being 0.1019 inches thick, while 10 gauge standard steel is 0.1345 inches and a 10 gauge galvanized steel is 0.1382 inches.

As a result of this confusing state of affairs, the American Society for Testing and Measurement (ASTM) says in specification ASTM A480-10a, ‘The use of gage number is discouraged as being an archaic term of limited usefulness not having general agreement on meaning.’

Modern Metal Thickness Measurements

The common practice today is to specify the exact thickness of the product in question, thought the gauge may also be listed. In the case of aluminum and its alloys, sheet is typically defined as a piece of metal that is less than 0.249 inches thick. Aluminum plate is 0.25 inches and thicker, while aluminum foil is defined as anything thinner than 0.006 inches.

Due to their superior physical properties, aluminum sheet and plate are sought after for many different industrial applications. Aluminum plate is used for heavy-duty and structural applications, such as aerospace, military, and rail and sea transportation.

Aluminum sheet is the most common form of the metal, and is used in a wide range of industries, from food & beverage canning to cookware, appliance, and auto manufacturing. It is especially useful for construction of roofing, gutters, and siding.

Contact Industrial Metal Supply for your aluminum sheet & plate needs, or if you have questions.