Diversified Specialty Metals's Guide to Different Product Forms of Stainless Steel

Diversified Specialty Metals's Guide to Different Product Forms of Stainless Steel

Published in Stainless Steel

Kitchen appliances. Cutlery. Surgical instruments. Construction material. The uses for stainless steel are almost endless. This is thanks largely to the wide variety of different product forms of stainless steel.

Although “stainless steel” is a household term, it actually refers to various types of steel. Different metals like iron, chromium, and nickel are added to create alloys with a variety of useful properties. This makes stainless steel one of the most popular materials available.

The Most Popular Stainless Steel Product Forms in Canada

Stainless steel is one of the most popular alloys available, largely thanks to its versatility. It is available in five product classes:

  • Martensitic stainless steel, which is mixed with chromium and nickel. This type of stainless steel is durable and magnetic and is often used in construction thanks to its strength and resistance to wear.
  • Ferritic stainless steel, a chromium alloy with no nickel. It has high resistance to cracking and corrosion. However, since it’s not as strong as some other stainless steel products, it’s generally used for auto exhaust systems, HVAC parts, and even decoration.
  • Austenitic stainless steel—the most commonly used type! Austenitic grades contain a lot of both chromium and nickel, making them extremely strong and resistant to corrosion. Thanks to these properties, austenitic stainless steel is popular in applications for commercial food processing, automotive manufacturing, and the medical industry.
  • Duplex (ferritic-austenitic) stainless steel, which, as you might guess, is a combination of both ferritic and austenitic product forms. These alloys are extremely strong, ductile, and corrosion-resistant, making them ideal for chemical processing and the marine industry.
  • Precipitation-hardening (PH) stainless steel, in which copper or nickel is added. This is strong and resistant to corrosion and is frequently found in marine and aircraft applications.

Each of these five classes is categorized by different grades. The grade and application are often designated by components like chromium, nickel, or carbon content that are added to the raw material, as well as the mechanical property or properties that each mixture yields. For example, some mixtures have better intergranular corrosion resistance, and others might be produced with a bright mirror finish. Thanks to this versatility, stainless steel products are among the most popular in the world.

What Are the Most Popular Stainless Steel Product Forms in Canada?

In general, austenitic stainless steels are likely the most popular product forms because they can be used just about anywhere for anything. Canada—and, in fact, most of North America—uses all sorts of stainless steel alloy products and grades.

Of austenitic stainless steel’s two grades, the 300 series is the more common. It contains 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel, which provides the material with superior general corrosion resistance. It’s also durable, formable, and strong at high temperatures. Large industries like aerospace, the military, pharmaceuticals, and mining incorporate the 300 series into their machinery. In particular, 304 stainless steel has excellent corrosion resistance, even when exposed to oxidizing conditions. However, it’s not only for big business! Your cutlery, your sink, and even your car’s catalytic converter might include this alloy.

The second grade is the 200 series, which has a lower nickel content but mixes in nitrogen or manganese. It’s not as strong as the 300 series, but it is a bit less expensive and is frequently used in appliances like washing machines and dishwashers.

Each grade of raw-material stainless steel goes through manufacturing and machining processes that form the final products. These processes include hot forging, heat treatment, and die forging, among others. Depending on the users’ needs, the manufacturer can produce either flat or long stainless steel products.

The Difference between Flat and Long Products

In addition to the various classes and grades, and the varying nickel and chromium contents, stainless steel products are also available in flat and long varieties. The differences between these two options lie in both how the alloy is manufactured and how it’s used.

What Is the Difference between Long and Flat Products?

There are two main ways stainless steel is produced: flat products and long products. The first type, flat products, are made from stainless steel sheets or slabs that are either hot rolled or cold rolled. These metals are frequently used in the automotive industry or for constructing heavy machinery and home appliances.

Conversely, long products are produced from ingots and rolled. Long stainless-steel products are extremely strong and are used in almost every facet of daily life.

Historically, structural applications, like buildings and bridges, utilized carbon steel but many European countries now insist that stainless steel be used in the construction of new structural infrastructure. Substituting carbon for stainless ensures that integral material will not rust, and structural integrity will be secured for decades longer. This practice has not been widely adopted in America due to cost concerns but that could change in the future.

Flat products are available in a variety of stainless-steel profiles, sizes, and densities. Solid metal sheets, perforated metal sheets, and steel forging can all be machined into the exact flat product that you need.

Which Products Are Long?

Long stainless steel products are produced using a variety of different methods. The manufacturer might melt, cast, form, or heat treat the metal in order to get the desired shape and size.

Diversified Specialty Metals offers a wide variety of long stainless steel products, including:

  • Stainless steel pipe
  • Stainless round bar
  • Stainless square bar
  • Stainless steel channel
  • Stainless steel beam
  • Stainless steel square tube
  • Stainless steel angle bar
  • Stainless steel rectangle bar
  • Stainless steel hollow bar
  • Stainless steel hex bar
  • Stainless steel round tube

Most products are available in different grades or finishes in order to accommodate the unique needs of every industry. With great thermal conductivity and optimal corrosion resistance, long products can be used for anything. Stainless round bar can be a handrail. Stainless square tube can be a decorative frame. And stainless steel rectangular pipe can add structure to a new building. When it comes to austenitic stainless steel and other stainless grades, the possibilities are endless!

Which Products Are Flat?

For some industries, flat stainless steel products are more useful than long products. Diversified Specialty Metals also offers a large range of flat products so that each customer gets exactly what they need. Here’s a quick look at our flat stainless steel products:

  • Stainless steel coil
  • Stainless steel flatbar
  • Stainless steel forging, or stainless steel forged products
  • Stainless steel sheet
  • Stainless steel plate

Like long products, flat stainless steel products are available in different grades and with different finishes. And they can produce just about anything! Metal sheets can be manufactured into water bottles or cut into railings. Look around—you’re probably face to face with some sort of stainless steel right now!

Long Products

The following types of long products are all commonly utilized by Canadian manufacturers, commercial construction contractors, and many other purchasers of stainless steel.

Stainless Pipe

Stainless steel pipe is used to transport fluids or gasses. It’s often found in residential and commercial plumbing, pipelines, and automotive exhaust systems. In some applications, it might be used in conjunction with copper coil. This pipe is available in seven different grades and five different finishes, including a seamless or a welded finish.

Stainless Channel

If your project requires high corrosion resistance in structural applications like large buildings, you might want to support your structure with stainless steel channel. Diversified Specialty Metals offers two grades of stainless channel (304 and 316L), both of which are available in a mill finish.

Stainless Beam

Since stainless steel’s durability and good corrosion resistance are tough to beat, stainless steel beams are often used in machinery and construction. We can produce 304- or 304L-grade steel in I-beams, S-beams, or W-beams. And we’ll help you determine which stainless steel grade is optimal for your application!

Stainless Tube

Stainless steel tube is commonly found in architecture, particularly in decorative or structural applications like fencing. However, it’s also quite popular in food processing. Unlike solid stainless steel square bar, square tubing is hollow and thus lighter weight. Available in grades such as 304, 316, and 316L, it’s corrosion resistant and ideal for outdoor use. And since it can be produced in whatever wall thickness you need, it will fit perfectly into your unique application.

Stainless steel tubing is a mainstay in the agricultural and transportation industries. One particular product form, stainless steel rectangular tube, offers strong but lightweight structure. While many shapes of stainless tubing are popular across many industries, rectangular tube is stronger than some of the other forms. Stainless steel rectangular tube is available in 304 or 316L grade and a variety of finishes, including X4, HRAP, and MF.

Stainless Angle Bar

Unlike some other product forms, stainless steel angle bar can be bent or cut. Angle bar is essentially a bar of forged steel bent at a 90-degree angle to create a flange on each side. Available in HRAP finish and 304L or 316L angle grade, these bars are basically strong metal brackets that are often used in roofing and support beams. Although it’s an ideal material to increase structural integrity, you can also order polished stainless steel angle bar to be used as decoration.

Stainless Hollow Bar

Also known as stainless steel round bar, stainless steel hollow bar is essentially a pipe or tube with thicker walls. Think of a stainless steel rod that’s been hollowed out in the middle.

Thanks to its increased structural integrity, it holds up to both corrosion and weight. Diversified Specialty Metals offers stainless bar in grade 316L with an HRAP finish for use as railings, framings, and structure. Just let us know what size you need!

Stainless Hex Bar

If you work in construction or carpentry, an Allen wrench might be one of your favourite tools. It’s actually a form of hex bar! Stainless hex bar, also known as stainless steel hexagon bar, is generally used to make hex nuts, hex bolts, or hex wrenches. It’s available in a variety of grades, all with a CD finish.

Flat Products

Although long products have a secure place in many industries, other uses call for flat products. Like their long counterparts, flat stainless steel products have excellent corrosion resistance. They can be dull polished or bright annealed. This means that the end users get the exact shape, size, and finish they want.

Stainless Coil

Stainless steel coil has a complex chemical composition that includes iron, carbon, chromium, and nickel. Its makeup allows for a durable and corrosion-resistant metal that performs well under extreme temperatures. It’s also nontoxic, which makes it popular in the medical and food industries. Also, thanks to its chemical composition, stainless coil is available in a range of grades and finishes.

Stainless Flatbar

Some industries, like marine and construction, require extremely strong bars that are resistant to oxidation and corrosion, even when exposed to extreme elements and temperatures. Fortunately, like solid stainless square bar, stainless steel flatbar checks all of these boxes. And since it’s available in a wide variety of grades and finishes, flatbar is extremely versatile too!

Stainless Forging

Forged steel can be used for just about anything. The variety of shapes and sizes—coupled with the products’ durability—makes stainless steel forging popular in a huge range of industries and applications, including:

  • Surgical tools
  • Sports equipment
  • Garden tools
  • Agricultural equipment

Diversified Specialty Metals offers forged steel product in grade 410—and in just about any stainless steel profile you can imagine. Just let us know what you need and our team will coordinate the logistics to have it delivered quickly!

Stainless Sheet

Sheet metal is perhaps one of the best-known metal products. And stainless steel sheet metal fabrication is one of the most versatile forms of metal production. Whether you start with a solid or perforated sheet, and regardless of chemical composition, you’ll find this product in applications like construction, food service, transportation, and even the textile industry.

Stainless sheet is available in dozens of grades and finishes, including PVC coatings for protection. These coatings help prevent your stainless steel components from being damaged during transport or storage so they’re in great condition when you’re ready to use them.

Stainless Plate

Thicker than sheet metal but otherwise quite similar, stainless steel plate is another versatile and durable product. Stainless plate is used across many industries and can be used in both decorative and structural applications. Diversified Specialty Metals offers this product in 1/4 hard temper, with your choice of a variety of grades and finishes.

Diversified Stainless Steel Products for Every Project

Stainless steel is here to stay. Its superior corrosion resistance, fire-resistance properties, and strength-to-weight ratio have made it a mainstay in industries across the globe. In order to obtain the metal products that you need exactly when you need them, you need a partner with not only an expansive stainless steel inventory but expansive supply chain and logistical knowledge too! From our customer service to our final product, Diversified Specialty Metals is your one-stop shop for stainless steel products.

Diversified Specialty Metals is Canada’s most diversified metal service center, supplying all forms of stainless steel in various grades and tempers.

Aluminum: The Lightweight Material That Delivers Heavyweight Performance

Fast Turnaround & Delivery

Fast Turnaround & Delivery

Metallurgists and Product Specialists on Staff

Metallurgists and Product Specialists on Staff

Serving Canada and the US Metal Needs

Serving Canada and the US Metal Needs