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

Cold rolling increases the yield strength and hardness of a metal by introducing defects into the metals crystal structure. Cold Rolling is most often used to decrease the thickness of plate and sheet metal 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, as well as 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 are not as precise as well.

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

Metals can be classified as either ferrous or non-ferrous. The basic 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 contain 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.

Ferrous metal definition: A ferrous metal contains iron.

 The difference between the two types of metal may not be obvious at first glance. However, the differences can be important, depending on the intended use of the metal. Ferrous metals are typically lower cost, as well as strong and durable, though most are susceptible to rust and corrosion due to the iron content. In fact, one way to identify a ferrous metal is to look for rust – in general, if you see rust, it’s ferrous (with the exception of wrought iron, a ferrous metal that resists rust).
Most ferrous metals are magnetic, which comes in handy for applications such as electric motors, generators, and hard disks. Their magnetic properties also makes recycling of ferrous metal easier, with the help of large, commercial magnets that attract and pick up large pieces of steel scrap in junk yards for re-use in steel mills. In fact, ferrous metals have the highest rate of metal recycling in the world.
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 and tools, as well as household appliances.

Non ferrous metal definition: A non-ferrous metal contains little or no iron.

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 light weight makes non-ferrous metals desirable for increasing energy efficiency in air and ground transportation.
Non-ferrous metals are non-magnetic and have high conductivity, which makes them useful for certain electronics applications, such as wiring. Even though they aren’t attracted to magnets, non-ferrous metals also 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, both ferrous and non-ferrous, and 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 available. 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.

Are steel and aluminum, or (Ferrous and Non-Ferrous) gauges the same thickness?

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.
Product: Measured by

  •  Steel: Gauge

  •  Galvanized steel: Gauge

  •  Stainless steel: Gauge

  •  Aluminum: Decimal (i.e. .032 or .060)

  •  Brass: Decimal

  •  Copper: Ounces (Lbs. per sq/ft)

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

Just because.  Quite frankly, we don’t have a better answer for this one! The ounce represents the weight per square foot that the material weighs.  For example, 32oz (.042) thick is twice as thick as 16oz. (.021) thick.

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

Unfortunately, it would be hard for us to guarantee that the items you order will all telescope. If this is important to you, we do carry two lines of products that are 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 thickness and are stocked in ⅛” OD increments. We also stock a product called telescoping tube that is made to slip-fit. You can find this steel tubing in the products section of our website.

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 we can but any technical advice given is without charge, and we will have no obligation or liability for the advice or the results. Any recommendation we offer is being given and accepted at buyer's risk.

What is the difference between alloys?

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

Which is stronger?

Steel is stronger than aluminum pound for pound, but there are different alloys, tensile strengths, etc. that play a role in determining this answer. Within the steel category, cold rolled is a little stronger and harder than hot rolled. 

Which bends better – hot rolled or cold rolled?

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

Which is more corrosion resistant?

The content of carbon is a main factor in what determines 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 the process of 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 resistance to corrosion it will be.

Do you do any fabrication in-house?

Yes, we bend material but it’s never intentional! Okay, seriously, we do offer punching and notching, which is done on purpose using our Iron Worker.

What other capabilities do you have in-house?

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

Can you mitre cut?

Yes, but only 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 you cut woven and welded sheet to size?

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