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The Difference Between Metal Sheet and Plate

metal sheet

The difference between a metal sheet and metal plate can be defined by thickness. If the thickness of the metal is ¼” (6mm) or more, then it is considered a plate. Plate thickness is typically measured in inches. If the thickness is less than ¼” (6mm), it is considered sheet. Sheet is typically measured in gauges. It is not uncommon however to see both metal sheet and plate additionally measured in mm.

Sheet and Plate Production

When molten metal exits the blast furnace it is continuously cast into billets, and slabs. Billets are commonly used to form bar stock and wire while slabs will be used to produce plate and sheets. Slabs exit the casting process in thicknesses often exceeding 4”. In order to make a usable metal sheet or plate, this thickness needs to be reduced.

To reduce and most importantly, to standardize the thickness along the full length of the metal product, the metal is rolled, either hot or cold. If the metal is rolled while it is hot (above its recrystallization temperature) it is called hot rolling. The metal is fed through rollers that gradually reduce the thickness of the metal until it reaches the desired thickness. This thickness can be as little as 11 thousands of an inch.

If the final metal product has thickness above ¼” (6mm) then it is known as metal plate and is part of the structural metal family. Any products thinner than this are considered sheet metal.

Cold rolling is done when the material either needs increased strength, or when very precise thickness is required. The thickness reduction at each pass is lower than hot rolling, so cold rolling takes longer than hot rolling.

Measuring Sheet

It is important to note that when measuring sheet product, gauges are neither standard nor metric, and have independent values. A conversion chart should be used to convert gauge to mm or in.

There are a variety of gauge systems used today, with different metal types having different gauge systems. For example, an 8 Ga. Sheet of aluminum measures 0.1285 in. While an 8 Ga. Sheet of Stainless Metal measures 0.17187 in. The two metals have different gauge systems resulting in different thicknesses for the same gauge. Visit this article for sheet metal gauge charts.

Looking for sheet or plate for your next project? Metal Supermarkets offers a variety of sheet and plate metal types, and sizes, cut to the size you need. Shop for Sheet Now or Shop for Plate Now.

Metal Supermarkets

Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with 125 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.

At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, tool steel, alloy steel, brass, bronze and copper.

We stock a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets, plates and more. And we can cut metal to your exact specifications.

Visit one of our 120+ locations across North America today.

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