Category Archive: Steel

Brass vs Bronze: What to Know

You may not immediately notice a stark difference between brass and bronze. Despite the fact that sheet metal in itself currently accounts for about $30 billion in American revenue, much of that sheet metal is made up of bronze and brass. Aesthetically, they look quite similar, and they can potentially be used for similar purposes. But of course, we should know what separates brass from bronze, and what would be best to use under certain circumstances.

With that being said, we’re delving into what brass and bronze are made of, what separates the two of them, and what makes each one the right material for certain projects.

What Are They Made Of?

Firstly, let’s look into what brass is made of. Brass is made up of copper and zinc, which is why you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as copper brass. It has that distinct coppery look, but it’s stronger and more useful than copper. Brass is an alloy (a combination of multiple metal materials), as is bronze.

Bronze is also has a base of copper, but it’s made up of copper and tin. Phosphorous and aluminum have been added in with that cooper as well. The copper base of both brass and bronze is why they look so similar, but they function very differently.

What Is The History Behind Them?

Copper brass and bronze have both been in existence for quite some time. It’s estimated that copper brass was first created around 500 B.C.E., and at that time it was largely used for decorative purposes. Bronze is actually even older, dating back to 3,500 B.C.E. This product was actually used to create sculptures, some of which still exist to this day, which attests to the strength of the metal. Right now, brass and bronze are used for everything from plumbing to ammunition.

What’s Better, Bronze Or Brass?

There isn’t a particular advantage to using brass or bronze. It depends on the project you’re undertaking. Bronze is harder and therefore has often been used on ships and fittings. However, it’s more brittle. Brass is more malleable, on the other hand, and more easily manipulated, which is why it serves as decorative projects better. You can look at bronze being better in terms of durability, and brass being better in terms of its creative qualities.

Know the difference between bronze and brass to make sure you know what you’re using. If you want to learn more about these metals or others, contact us today!

Understanding Combined Metals & Alloys

Currently, the sheet metal market is already expanding and it will only expand more in future years. It’s been estimated that the market’s average growth rate is 4.09%. The growth was projected to occur between 2018 and 2022. This growth is reliant in part on the usage of combined metals and alloys. Combined metals and alloys differ from the metals that we are able to find naturally in the ground. True metals are actually pure elements, while alloys are blends of metals.

What can we get from combined metals and alloys? How can they benefit us? Let’s look into some of the things you should know about these metal products.

Why Do We Use Combine Metals And Alloys?

We create combined metals and alloys for multiple purposes. For one thing, metals can become stronger if we combine them. This allows us to, for example, combine the flexibility of one metal with the strength of another, creating a metal that better serves all of the purposes required.

Other times, metals are combined to approve the appearance of the end product. A metal may be combined with another in order to create a final product that is shinier, or perhaps a specific color. Metals may also be combined to create a product that is less prone to corrosion.

In some cases, a product that is made of combined metals performs similarly to another metal but is less expensive. This makes combined metals quite frequently more convenient to use and procure than pure metals.

What Are Some Common Combined Metal Products?

You might be surprised by how many metals you encounter in your daily life are combined metals and alloys. For example, stainless steel, one of the strongest metals in the world, is a combined metal. One of the main reasons why stainless steel is so often used is that it’s rust-proof. Therefore, it’s perfect for damp climates, and ideal to use for products like sinks, which are often in contact with water. Low levels of chromium and carbon are combined with iron to create stainless steel. Other common combined metal products include gold, which is utilized for jewelry, and solder, which is used for its binding properties.

There are so many benefits to using combined metals. You just need to know exactly what each one should be used for. Get in touch with us today to learn more about combined metal and alloys.

What Makes Aluminum So Sustainable?

Aluminum is one of the most-used metals in the world. This durable but lightweight metal is made from bauxite and has a variety of applications in transportation, construction, and packaging. The best part is that it is completely recyclable. In fact, three-quarters of all aluminum created in history is still in use today. So, why is aluminum so sustainable?

Lightweight

Because it has a lower atomic weight than other metals, aluminum has a low density. Its density is between 2.6 and 2.8 grams per cubic centimeter. Aluminum has a density of around one-third that of steel, which is why it is often known as a light metal.

Resistant to Corrosion

One of the key reasons for aluminum’s exceptional corrosion resistance is this oxide layer. When left untreated, aluminum corrosion resistance is excellent in most conditions. This is due to the fact that aluminum generates a thin but efficient oxide coating on its surface that prevents further oxidation. Aluminum oxide is impermeable and sticks strongly to the parent metal, unlike the oxide coatings on many other metals. The oxide layer of aluminum repairs itself promptly if it is mechanically damaged.

Durable

Aluminum has the potential to become one of the toughest metals on the planet. Aluminum alloys are utilized in a variety of applications that require strength and durability. High-strength aluminum is used in the construction of planes and automobiles as well as some of the world’s tallest buildings. The strength of aluminum is increased by adding components like silicon, magnesium, and lithium to the pure metal. This method can produce a metal that is as robust as, if not more so than, steel.

Affordability

Aluminum metal used to be more valuable than gold when it was first discovered. Although aluminum is now the most abundant metal on the planet, it is still a costly metal. This is due to the significant quantity of electricity consumed in the extraction process. However, when compared to other metals for production, the price of aluminum might be considered as reasonable due to its many favorable features.

The metal fabrication industry is expected to add 12,000 jobs over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means that more and more workers will be using metals like aluminum. Thankfully, aluminum is also called a green metal because of its sustainability. It is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, durable, and affordable, among other reasons. Get in touch with us today to learn more about aluminum.

What To Know About Stainless Steel

We have all heard about stainless steel and that it’s superior to other types of metal. Because of this, a lot of people use it in various applications. However, what is it exactly and how is it made? Here’s some information about stainless steel.

What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is the name used for a group of iron-based alloys. These are metals made by combining two or more elements. However, every alloy must contain at least 10.5% chromium for it to count as stainless steel. It’s the presence of chromium that makes stainless steel resistant to corrosion. The chromium found in stainless steel creates an ultra-thin layer known as the passive layer on the steel. This layer is essential for stopping rust and other kinds of corrosion.

Stainless has several advantages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the metal fabrication industry is likely going to grow by 9% from 2016 to 2026. This will see more application of stainless steel in various areas.

Can Stainless Steel be Affected by Rust?

One of the most common misconceptions is that stainless steel is a magical metal that never gets affected by rust. This can’t be further from the truth. Because of how it’s made, it’s highly unlikely that stainless steel will rust. However, it’s not entirely impossible. If the conditions allow, stainless steel can be affected by rust. It’s important to do proper maintenance of steel products so they don’t rust or get exposed.

Stainless Steel and Other Types of Corrosion

It’s important to understand that rust is not the only type of corrosion out there. There are several other chemicals or substances that are strong enough to corrode stainless steel. One of the most common types of corrosion that affects stainless steel is known as putting. This usually happens when the surface of stainless steel is exposed to corrosive agents for too long. The surface will start looking like there are tiny pits on the surface of the steel. If this is not quickly dealt with, it will have an impact on both the look and performance of the steel surface.

These are some of the things you need to know about stainless steel. It’s a strong material that’s fairly resistant to rust and other types of corrosion. Contact us if you want to purchase stainless steel.

How To Choose Between Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, or Fiberglass

There are so many different materials out there when it comes to creating enclosures and other surroundings in your home or business. There are plenty of options and taking the time to figure out what is going to work best for you is essential. When it comes down to materials, stainless steel, fiberglass, and carbon steel are all great options.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is one of those materials that are meant for very heavy-duty use. If you are going to be making something that is going to be used and that is going to get a ton of use and wear, carbon steel is a great option. It is also great for outdoor use as it is not going to rust and get damaged by water and weather. If you are building something outside and you need something that is very durable, this is going to be a great material to choose.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is better for things that are going to require some insulation. Fiberglass is often used for insulating items and for making sure that whatever you are building under or inside of it is going to be protected. Fiberglass can get damaged with heavy wear and tear and it can be damaged if you are too hard on it and too rough with it. It can be hardened with coating and made more durable depending on what you are going to be using it for.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a great all-around material that is going to be useful for a huge range of applications. For things that are going to be outside, things that are going to get very hot, things that are going to get heavy use, this is a great option. Stainless steel is a great material that is going to be very durable and very useful if you want to have something that is going to keep working well for you over time and over a great deal of use.

When deciding what material is going to work for you, it is always best to look at what you are going to do with the material and what application it is going to be used for. This can make a big difference in what is going to be best for you and what is going to work for your overall needs most.

What’s The Difference Between Stainless Steels?

The story of stainless steel seems complicated because there is not only one type of stainless steel. It is, however, easy to understand the types of stainless steel out there in a large industry. In 2016, there were 139,000 sheet metal workers active in the United States, but the number is substantially higher now. If you’re working with your local metal workers to figure out what the best stainless steel option is for your project, consider the following information about the different types of stainless steel.

The Different Types of Stainless Steels

Austenitic, ferritic, duplex, martensitic, and stainless steel alloys hardened by precipitation are the most common. Austenitic is the most extensively used and popular. Austenitic stainless steel is divided into two subgroups: 300 and 200. The primary classes of stainless steel will be discussed in the 300 subcategories since they are the most often used grades

304 Stainless Steel

304 stainless steel is a low-carbon steel that includes at least 18 percent chromium and 8% nickel, earning it the nickname 18/8 stainless steel. This form of stainless steel resists oxidation and corrosion. This resilience makes manufacturing easier and prevents product contamination. When compared to 316 stainless steel, 304 stainless steel is the most flexible, least expensive and common austenitic stainless steel.

303 Stainless Steel

303 stainless steel is a class of 304 stainless with a minimum of 8% nickel, 17% chromium, and 0.15 percent sulfur/selenium. The inclusion of a small amount of sulfur decreases corrosion resistance somewhat while increasing machineability, which is why it’s used in fasteners, bushings, bearings, and other minor components. Due to the needed tolerances, these parts require more precise machining standards. Although 303 stainless steel offers excellent corrosion resistance, 304 stainless is suggested for increased strength.

316 Stainless Steel

A minimum of 10% nickel, 16% chromium, and 2% molybdenum are included in 316 stainless steel. The fundamental difference between 316 and 304 stainless is the presence of much more molybdenum in 316 stainless. The use of this metal improves the corrosion resistance of 316 while also providing great heat resistance up to 1600°F. 316 stainless is a nickel-chromium stainless steel, similar to 304. 316 stainless steel and is recommended in environments with high levels of corrosive substances and/or items that will be put underwater.

Aside from the stainless steel types discussed above, you can also get 317, 321, and 347 types of stainless steel in the 300-class. The 400-class of stainless steel is the cheapest, but less popular.

How Infrared Thermometers Are Helping Engineers

Infrared thermometers measure temperatures across many clinical and industrial environments. These thermometers have no contact with the object. This thermometer is excellent for dangerous and fragile objects. Continue reading to see how thermometers are helping with engineering.

How Does an Infrared Thermometer Work?

An infrared thermometer uses infrared radiation to figure out the surface temperature of an object. This can happen without having any physical contact. For example, an Infrared thermometer can read shiny surfaces like 6061 aluminum. If parts are shiny like 6061 aluminum from a high surface finish. If you use a different thermometer on 6061 aluminum, you may get a lower temperature reading than the actual temperature. An Infrared thermometer is ideal for the primary metals used most often. Consumers most often purchase primary metals, including aluminum in a bar, tube, sheet, or plate form; hot or cold rolled steel; and stainless steel.

What to Consider When Purchasing an Infrared Thermometer

Accuracy – It is critical that a thermometer is accurate. This is even more important when it comes to an infrared thermometer. The accuracy of this type of thermometer depends on its distance-to-spot ratio. This is the ratio the indicates the distance from the spot where a thermometer evaluates surface area. The higher the ratio means that you can accurately take the temperature of an object at a further distance. The surface area continues to increase as the distance does.

Temperature Range – The temperature range of the infrared thermometer impacts the work you can do with it. The wider the temperature range means the thermometer can record the temperature of varying processing at various temperatures. When an infrared thermometer has a narrow range for temperature is best when a higher resolution is necessary to ensure accurate temperature control.

Response Time – The reading or response time is the actual time that it takes the thermometer to give an accurate temperature reading after starting the thermometer’s process. This is critical for measuring the temperature of moving objects or objects that heat up quickly.

An infrared thermometer is critical when reading the temperature of a dangerous surface or one that is difficult to reach. These thermometers give quick results, and they are easy to use.

What You Should Know When Choosing Materials For Springs

Springs are made from various materials and finishes. There are some factors that decide which material is best. These include the application, requirements of the project, and the environment. In addition, the quality of the spring can have an impact on the performance. Here are some tips you should know about choosing materials for springs.

Common Material Choices

Most springs are metal from some type of steel alloy. This helps them remain affordable, durable, and readily available. In addition, the smallest changes to the steel can make the spring ideal for one application over another. Music wire, chrome silicon, oil-tempered wire, and stainless steel are the most common types. Today, approximately 40% of steel production around the world is made with recycled metal.

Stainless Steel

There are two types of stainless steel: 301 stainless steel and 302 stainless steel. 301 stainless steel resists corrosion in many environments. 302 stainless steel is used in most stock commercial springs. 302 stainless steel has a higher corrosion resistance than 301 stainless. It can stand up to incredibly high temperatures. 302 stainless steel is ideal for medical environments.

High Carbon Steel

An oil-tempered wire is excellent for heavy lifting. This type of spring is used on machinery and farm equipment. These springs have a larger diameter and therefore can handle much heavier workloads.

Music Wire

Music wire is a highly durable material that is ideal for the automotive industry and construction. These springs can handle the heavy loads and still maintain their form and build.

Hard-drawn Wire

This is the most affordable steel wire you can buy. It is versatile, easy to use, and sturdy. It is best used for temperatures that stay under 250 degrees Fahrenheit. It can perform in just about every other condition. Unfortunately, it does not have a long life and, as a result not best for the medical industry.

When deciding which type of steel spring to use, it is critical that you understand how you want to use the spring. This will help you make the best selection and pick a spring that is going to hold up to the task. In addition, no matter which spring you select, you want to ensure that it has been tested for durability and strength to handle all types of strain and stress.

The Day in the Life of a Sheet Metal Worker

The metal fabrication industry is projected to grow by 9% from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means there will likely be an increase in demand for sheet metal workers, but what exactly do these professionals do?

Let’s take a look at the day in the life of a sheet metal worker that works with thin steel sheet materials, combined metals, and more.

Working Conditions

Sheet metal workers typically have 40-hour workweeks with consistent hours. They work indoors and must wear personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses, work boots, hard hats, ear protectors, and gloves. This job is hands-on and often involves working closely with other sheet metal workers.

Daily Duties

What do sheet metal workers do on a daily basis? Take a look at a few typical duties:

  • Review blueprints and convert them into shop drawings
  • Establish project requirements, such as methods, needed materials, scope, and assembly sequences
  • Determine dimensions, measurements, and reference lines for project materials
  • Assemble products using a variety of methods
  • Repair thin steel sheet metal items
  • Smooth, grind, or trim parts using tools

Weekly and Monthly Duties

Depending on the company they work for, sheet metal workers perform the following tasks on a weekly or monthly basis:

  • Work on construction sites to fabricate parts using a variety of tools
  • Transfer prefabricated parts to construction sites
  • Install various fabricated parts
  • Lead maintenance of various equipment to ensure repairs are made in a timely manner
  • Perform mechanical inspections of a building’s various systems

Importance of the Metal Fabrication Industry

So, why is understanding what a sheet metal worker does on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis important? Our economy heavily relies on the metal fabrication industry. Without experts in combined metals, aluminum, brass and copper, and thin steel sheet and stainless steel materials, our home and building electrical systems would be very difficult to both create and maintain.

Sheet metal workers understand the ins and outs of the materials they work with, and they have the ability to warp them to meet the needs of systems that operate within homes and buildings alike.

The metal fabrication industry is an important one, which is why it’s paramount to have an understanding of what sheet metal workers do and how they keep our homes and buildings operating efficiently. If you’re interested in purchasing thin steel sheet materials and more, contact Thin Metal Sales today!

How the Sheet Metal Industry Is Helping the U.S. Economy

The American iron and steel industry is estimated to support around 716,000 in supplier jobs and pay an average of $53 billion in compensation and wages. The iron and steel industry contributes to the overall public finances of the nation, and the suppliers generate an estimated $173 billion in revenue. This also follows into the sheet metal industry, which currently accounts for around $30 billion in U.S. revenue.

But before we get too far into it, what exactly are we talking about here?

What Is Sheet Metal?

Sheet metal is a versatile form of metal wherein steel, aluminum, copper, brass, nickel, tin, titanium, or even precious metals are made into a thin sheet which can then be cut, bent, or otherwise molded to the desired shape and size. The term sheet metal refers to any metal which can be formed into a sheet of varying thickness, though very thick sheets are called plate.

How Is Sheet Metal Helping the U.S. Economy?

Being so versatile, sheet metal is a great choice for architects and innovative designers to work with. In addition to being malleable, it is also strong and finished in such a way that it is resistant to corrosion, sun, and moisture.

The sheet metal industry currently accounts for an estimated 30 billion dollars in U.S. revenue. While small compared to the 173 billion dollars believed to be generated by the steel and iron industry in the United States, that amount is still appreciable. Even simple aluminum sheeting brings in a hefty part of that figure.

The sheet metal industry helps form the backbone of the iron and steel industry in the U.S., providing workable, durable material from which all manner of things can be fabricated. While sheet metal does tend to suffer a bit when the economy is less than booming, it more than makes up for that in fruitful times.

Overall, sheet metal is clearly an important arm of the iron and steel industry, providing billions of dollars worth of strong, malleable, and corrosion-resistant material which can be used to fabricate all manner of parts and pieces, as well as be used for larger projects, such as those seen in architectural contexts.