What is the difference between hot rolled and cold rolled steel?

Cold rolling increases the yield strength and hardness by introducing defects into the metal’s crystal structure. Cold Rolling is most often used to decrease the plate and sheet metal thickness in the manufacturing stage. Since cold-formed steel is formed at room temperature, the material becomes harder and stronger—the cold roll process results in improved gauge tolerances and a smooth, attractive appearance.
Cold rolled steel is generally free of rust or scale and is easy to work, paint or chrome. Not only are the tolerances (thicknesses) looser on hot rolled steel, but often the "squareness" (edges and finish) of the product is not as precise as well.
Learn more about the benefits and differences between hot rolled and cold rolled steel.

What is the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metal?

Metals can be classified as either ferrous or non-ferrous. The primary difference is simple: A ferrous metal is iron or an alloy that contains iron, while non-ferrous metals consist of any metal other than iron, along with alloys that do not include an appreciable amount of iron.
Common ferrous metals include carbon steel (1018, 12L14), alloy steel (4130), stainless steel (304, 316), and wrought iron. Common non-ferrous metals include aluminum and its alloys (3003, 5052, 6061, 6063), precious metals (gold, silver, and platinum), copper and its alloys (brass and bronze), titanium, and nickel.

What are the typical characteristics of a ferrous metal?

The difference between the two types of metal may not be evident at first glance. However, the differences can be significant, depending on the intended use of the metal. Ferrous metals are typically lower cost and strong and durable, though most are susceptible to rust and corrosion due to the iron content. One way to identify a ferrous metal is to look for rust – in general, if you see rust, it’s ferrous (except for wrought iron, a ferrous metal that resists rust).

Do ferrous metals contain magnetic properties?

Most ferrous metals are magnetic, which comes in handy for applications such as electric motors, generators, and hard disks. Their magnetic properties also make recycling ferrous metal easier, with the help of large, commercial magnets that attract and pick up large pieces of steel scrap in junkyards for re-use in steel mills. Ferrous metals have the highest rate of metal recycling in the world.

What are typical ferrous metal Applications?

Ferrous metals make up the backbone of our infrastructure, including buildings, bridges, railroad tracks, trains, heavy equipment, and automobiles. They also make up the bulk of manufacturing equipment, tools, and household appliances.

What are the general characteristics of a non-ferrous metal?

Non-ferrous metals and alloys cost more than most ferrous metals. They are easily worked and are resistant to rust and corrosion. As a result, they are ideal for any application exposed to water or liquids, such as roofs, pipes, gutters, or fences. Their lightweight makes non-ferrous metals desirable for increasing energy efficiency in air and ground transportation.

Are non-ferrous metals magnetic?

Non-ferrous metals are non-magnetic and have high conductivity, making them useful for specific electronics applications, such as wiring. Even though they aren’t attracted to magnets, non-ferrous metals can be recycled easily. Aluminum is the third most recycled metal globally.
Industrial Metal Supply is a full-service supplier of all types of metals, ferrous and non-ferrous, metal accessories, metalworking equipment, and supplies. Visit one of our six locations in Southern California and Arizona today.

What are IMS’ typical cutting tolerances?

IMS owns and operates some of the most sophisticated, in-house, state-of-the-art sawing, shearing, and cutting equipment. Depending on your needs, we can meet process precision to non-precious tolerances. Just let us know what you require, and we’ll make it happen.

Do steel and aluminum share the same thickness as ferrous and non-ferrous metal gauges?

No, ferrous and non-ferrous gauges are not the same thickness. If you are unsure about what thickness to order, we have included gauge charts which you will find located in the Reference section of this website.

Why is copper thickness called out by the ounce (i.e., 24oz.) and not the actual thickness?

The ounce represents the weight per square foot for the stated material. For example, 32oz (.042) thick is twice as thick as 16oz. (.021) thick. The following list is an example of the methods IMS uses to measure different materials:
  •  Steel: Gauge
  •  Galvanized steel: Gauge
  •  Stainless steel: Gauge
  •  Aluminum: Decimal (i.e. .032 or .060)
  •  Brass: Decimal
  •  Copper: Ounces (Lbs. per sq/ft)

Can IMS guarantee that the item I order will telescope into one another?

Unfortunately, it would be hard for us to guarantee that all items ordered will telescope. If this is important to you, we carry two lines of products guaranteed to telescope. One is our 6063 T8 Brite finish, aluminum grade tube – starting at ⅜” OD (outer dimension) and ranging up to 1 ¾” is manufactured to telescope so this product will fit together. All wall thicknesses are .058 and stocked in ⅛” OD increments. We also stock a product called telescoping tube that is made to slip-fit.

Can IMS provide engineering advice to help with my project?

We are proud to have employees who know a lot about metal, but we are not in a position legally or professionally to offer technical advice. We are happy to answer any questions, but any technical advice given is without charge. We will have no obligation or liability for the advice or the results. Any recommendation we offer is being given and accepted at the buyer's risk.

What are the distinctions between different types of alloy metals?

Please refer to the Glossary section of this website. We have listed many common alloys and their definitions to help you out with this answer.

Which is stronger, steel or aluminum?

Steel is stronger than aluminum pound for pound, but different alloys, tensile strengths, etc., play a role in determining overall strength. Cold rolled is a little stronger and harder within the steel category than hot rolled. 

Which bends better – hot rolled or cold rolled alloys?

Hot rolled bar or sheet will bend slightly easier with a tighter radius than cold rolled steel.

Which is more corrosion resistant, steel or aluminum?

The carbon content is the main factor in determining how fast a metal will rust or corrode. Because of this, aluminum is much better at resisting corrosion than steel. Cold rolled steel is more corrosion resistant than hot rolled because cold rolling smooths the surface, refines the grain structure, and causes differences in the mechanical properties along and across the rolling direction. The smoother the surface finish, the higher the corrosion resistance.

Does IMS offer in-house fabrication?

IMS offers punching and notching services, which are accomplished using our state-of-the-art Iron Worker machine.

What other capabilities does IMS offer in-house?


We have five branches with high-end equipment in each warehouse. We do metal processing for our customers daily and can do anything from Ironworker through 6-Axis 3D laser cutting.

Does IMS offer mitre cutting?

Yes, we offer mitre cutting of tubes and shapes using our new state-of-the-art Mazak laser cutting machine. For more information on its capabilities, check out the Laser cutting capabilities.

Can IMS cut woven and welded sheet to size?

Unfortunately, we cannot cut woven wire sheet to size. Sheets must be taken in their full size.

Our website uses cookies. For more information on our cookie use, see our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use this website you agree to our use of these cookies. Accept