Minerals and Energy Resources

What is the Difference Between Sheet and Plate Steel?


Introduction to Plate and Sheet Metal

Do you know that plate and sheet metal, both are different things? I am asking this question because people usually have confusion in both of these terms. Some people think that they are similar and no difference between sheet and plate.

Some people know that both are different things, but they are not aware of what the difference between them is accurate. But don’t worry, you don’t be to get confused with this concept. Below is the difference between them in a comprehensive way.

sheet metal

What is Sheet Metal?

Steel is an alloy of iron which has enhanced chemical and physical properties. We alloy the most common steels between 0.2 percent and 2.15 percent of carbon. But we can find some steels, which we alloy with other materials like tungsten, chromium, and manganese.

Steel has been used since ancient times. But it was produced inefficiently and expensively until the 19th Century. In mid of 19th century, the Bessemer process was invented. Since then, steel has been produced in bulk in many forms like metal foil, plate metal, and sheet metal.

Metal Foil

Metal foil is a very thin sheet of metal which has been hammered or rolled flat. We can manufacture it from any type of metal. The foils which we can easily find are aluminum foil and gold foil.

Aluminum foil generally has a thickness of .03mm. Whereas any sheet of metal with a thickness of less than 0.2mm is considered a foil.

Sheet Metal

Sheet metal is any metal which is thicker than a foil but thinner than 6mm i.e. the thickness of a metal plate. It is useful in building structures which do not require durability. Without increasing weight, they add additional strength by corrugate or diamond shape or structure.

Corrugation is the process of creasing of the metal at regular intervals to form ridges. And diamonding is the addition of diamond ridges which add structure to the metal. The sheet is a piece of metal which has a thickness of less than 3 mm. This may be of any type of metal such as steel, aluminum, copper, etc.

Plate Metal

Plate metal is any sheet of metal with a thickness of 6mm or higher. We use it in applications where durability is more important than saving weight. Also, we use it in automobiles where durability is more important to pass crash testing. The plate is a piece of metal which has a thickness of more than 3 mm. It may be of any type of metal like steel, aluminum, etc.

Difference Between Plate and Sheet Metal

Plate and sheet are words which we use to describe the classification of metals depending upon their thickness. In addition, plates are typically thicker than a sheet. But the boundaries vary depending on the material we are talking about.

We measure steel in the fractions of an inch or SAE Gauge such as 20 gauge i.e. 1/20″. For different applications, we use a number of different gauge standards. Also, sometimes the same gauge number refers to a different thickness in different gauge standards. Due to this possible confusion, the use of gauge number is discouraged by current standards organizations like ASTM.

For a definitive answer, it is necessary to refer to a standard or specification recognized by the manufacturer of the metal product. For example, we can purchase stainless steel in compliance with the specifications of ASTM A480/A480M. This includes the following definitions for material complying with this standard: –

Plate Steel: With material 3/16″ and over in thickness and over 10″ in width;

Sheet: With material under 3/16″ in thickness and 24″ and over in width

Thus, the only main difference between sheet and plate steel is the gauge (thickness) of the metal. Both of these have very different uses, depending on the varying durability and weight requirements for different projects.

Solved Question for You

Q. What are some popular uses for sheet metal?

Ans: This list is very long. Some of these are as follows:

  1. Auto and Truck panels
  2. Cargo truck panels
  3. Railroad Cars
  4. Refrigerators and Freezers
  5. Holding Tanks
  6. Bins and Dumpsters
  7. Lockers and toolboxes
  8. Electrical enclosures
  9. Hoppers and Airplanes
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