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Steel metal is undoubtedly one of the most widely used metals in the world. From construction to manufacturing, automotive to metal products, domestic appliances to electrical equipment, steel has its presence everywhere. Steel industry’s outlook and growth potential is growing in India, especially in rent times. Steel sheets, that is flat sheets of steel metal, is a widely sold-and-bought industrial metal in India and worldwide for structural and decorative purposes.
Let us take a closer look at:
- What are steel metal sheets?
- What are the different types of steel sheets?
- What are the uses of sheet metal?
- Why steel metal sheet is the best choice for your business (benefits)?
What are steel sheets?
Steel metal, when beaten and flattened into thin sheets is known as steel sheets. Based on the type of steel in use and the rolling (i.e., pressure used for flattering), the thickness of steel sheet can be varied – ranging from very thin sheets (known as foils) to thicker sheets (known as plates).
Thickness is usually measured in millimetres (mm) or gauge (especially in the United States). Unless customisation is requested for, steel sheets are usually available between 30 and 7 gauges. Here, the higher the gauge, the thinner the sheet of steel will be. Naturally, lower gauge sheets are more durable.
Steel sheets can easily be cut into different sizes and molded into different shapes. A metal brake is used to bend the sheets into different shapes as required. In general, it is challenging to bend steel plates (i.e., very thick sheets of steel).
Steel price in India is dynamic. Steel sheet prices depend on the thickness, technique used, and surface treatment meted out among other things. In India, the price of steel sheets can begin from as low as ₹50/kg depending on the factors mentioned above and the vendor.
As a business owner looking to buy steel it is recommended therefore to check all features of the steel sheet and compare prices between vendors before investing. Alternatively, you can try to buy steel sheets online through ‘Procurement’ (on Tata nexarc) for the best prices and quality of steel.
What are the different types of steel sheets?
There are different types of steel sheets in India used for different purposes including fabrication. The combination of other metals, the thickness of steel, strength, etc. gives character to each type of sheet steel. There is a thriving market for each sheet steel form, depending on the product being manufactured and its properties.
Some of the prominent steel types that you can buy for your business include:
Stainless steel sheet:
The most widely used and popular form of steel, stainless steel comes with a unique sheen, is flexible, and can be moulded into desired forms easily. It usually contains a small amount of chromium alloy (minimum 10.5%) making it ductile and easy to work with. Based on the steel-to-chromium ratio used, it can be used in the food industry (e.g., for making utensils, cutlery, home appliances, etc.) and others.
In fabrication, the three commonly used stainless steel sheet grades include:
- Austenitic (grade 300 stainless steel, most common)
- Ferritic (grade 400 series, contains little nickel)
- Martensitic (contains no nickel).
Steel alloy or alloy steel is one of the more economical forms of steels and is made using a mix of various other metals such as aluminium, copper, and nickel to determine the character of the steel. The mix of different alloys makes it less corrosive. Since the thickness, strength, and corrosiveness of alloy steel sheets varies and is determined by the ratio of steel to alloy mix, it makes it a suitable choice for fabrication of different products and appliances.
Carbon steel sheet metal:
A strong form of steel metal, this typically contains up to 2.5% carbon and is among the most common forms of steel. Known for its corrosive quality it requires a coating to protect it from rust. It contains very less quantity of any other alloy, making it durable, strong, and suitable for automotive parts, gates, fences, wires etc.
Carbon steel sheet metal is available in six grades depending on the levels of carbon content (i.e., low, medium, high). Its corrosiveness, strength, durability, brittleness, and ductility depend on the amount of carbon it contains, making it a suitable alternative to stainless steel in many cases.
Cold rolled steel (CRS) sheet metal:
In this, hot rolled steel is given a smooth finish by using a method of cold rolling steel, giving it tighter tolerance.
Tool steel sheets:
As the name suggests, tool steel is used for making cutting and drilling tools such as hammers. It contains cobalt, vanadium, and tungsten in parts, and very little carbon content. The steel sheets are hard and heat resistant, and the ratio of metal used determines its end application.
Galvanised steel sheets/Pre-plated steel sheets:
Usually, pre-plated with pure zinc or a combination of zinc-iron, it is usually available as electro-galvanised sheets or hot-dipped metal coated galvanised sheets. The zinc coating keeps it safe from rust, while the annealing process makes it suitable for fabrication of simpler products. The steel sheet price, corrosion resistance, and other features depend on its composition and alloy mix.
Use of steel sheets in industries?
As can be realised from the grades of steel sheets discussed above, metal sheets can be used for a myriad of functions. Based on their composition and features (strength, durability, corrosive-resistance, heat-resistance) these sheets can be used. Some of the popular industries where steel sheets are widely used include:
- Food industry: E.g., stainless steel in making home appliances, kitchen utensils, cutlery
- Automotive: E.g., hot rolled steel in building truck frames, carbon steel for car bodies (Read more on: Steel in automotive industry)
- Defence and Aerospace: E.g., stainless steel used for making storage tanks, aerospace engine components
- Construction: E.g., cold rolled steel for building steel sheds, garages, and other industrial structures (Read more on: Use of steel in construction sector)
- Agriculture: E.g., galvanised steel for irrigation pipes, greenhouse equipment, etc.
- Shipping: E.g., galvanised steel used for marine vessels, ship hulls
- Pharmaceutical: E.g., stainless steel used in making medical equipment and devices
Why steel sheet is the best choice for your business?
Steel sheets are easy to use, strong, ductile, heat resistant, corrosion resistant – in short, it comes with character that is suitable to be used in different industries. Steel is also light weight compared to other metals and requires practically little to no maintenance over the long term. When mixed or coated with other metals, it also has high threshold for water and heat resistance.
It is also affordable, which makes it a preferred choice for all businesses. As mentioned earlier, steel is a low-maintenance metal – meaning, you invest once and spend little over the years to maintain it.
Steel sheets can also be beaten and moulded into any shape based on the design and application. In many cases, steel can also be recycled (especially structural steel), making it the preferred choice for environmentally conscious businesses.
How to buy steel sheets for your business
In recent times there has been widespread use of steel sheets across industries. Demand-supply has naturally affected steel sheet prices, especially in countries like India. Apart from buying steel offline from manufacturers/wholesalers, today you can also buy steel online in India from online marketplaces and platforms (like Tata nexarc).
Steel sheet prices have been fluctuating depending on the quality of steel, type of steel sheet (hot or cold rolled), thickness, surface treatment (polished, coated, etc.), grade of steel, minimum order quantity, and vendor. For example, steel sheet price in Bangalore, can be:
- Carbon steel sheet – ₹75-90 per kg (.5 mm thickness)
- Carbon steel sheet (hot rolled) – ₹150 per kg for industrial construction purpose
- Carbon steel sheet (cold rolled) – ₹68-70 per kg (6-8 mm thickness)
- Stainless steel sheet – ₹260-300 per kg (4-5 mm thickness, plate)
- Stainless steel sheet – ₹270-275 per kg (1-2 mm thickness, plate)
- Stainless steel coated galvanised roofing sheet – ₹80-90 per kg (less than 0.5 mm thickness)
- Mild steel plain sheet – ₹70-80 per kg (less than 0.3 mm thickness)
As a business owner, it is understandable if you find it challenging to get steel for your business. As the price of steel varies on different factors, always take quotes from multiple vendors. You should also consider taxes and logistics/transportation costs when calculating the final price.
(This article was originally published in Feb, 2023 and updated in June, 2023 for relevancy)