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What are the Different Types of Steel Products?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Steel products are used in construction and fabrication. A steel product manufactured for industrial use could be a small washer or a large sheet. Aluminized steel has an electrostatic surface and this type is used to make automobile parts such as mufflers and exhaust systems. Flat rolled steel is widely available in different grades and sizes and is used to make pipe and tube products. Some of the most popular types of steel products made today are pipes and tubes as well as sheets and beams.

Although the terms steel pipes and steel tubes are often used interchangeably, there are slight differences between the two. Although both are hollow, tubes are used mainly in structural applications and are measured mostly by their outer diameter (OD), while pipes often transfer fluids and are usually measured by their inner diameter (ID). Tubes are also more likely to be custom made since pipes are available in a range of standard sizes. Still, a steel tube in one country may be sold as a steel pipe in another, so the terms often do end up meaning the same thing.

Steel products sold as plumbing tubes are often used to distribute or drain water. They are also used in systems designed for oil and gas distribution. Galvanized plumbing tubes aren't as long-lasting as copper ones and are likely to rust in about 35 to 40 years. Copper is quite expensive, so plastic plumbing tubes are used abundantly today.

Square steel pipes are popular in industry applications because welding them is often easier than on a conventional cylindrical metal pipe. Square roof ventilation baffles require the use of square steel pipes. Baffles are vents in a roof that allow proper air flow. Rectangular pipes are steel products that are frequently used in door and window construction as well as for shelving in retail stores.

The thin, flattened pieces of metal known as steel sheets are used on buildings as decorative plating as well as for roofs. They have many industrial uses including the formation of car bodies and raised floors. Perforated steel sheets feature open meshing and are used for decks and industrial flooring.

Beams are structural steel products that are rated as to the amount of weight they can hold. Steel is known for its strength and ability to support heavy weights. Some steel beams are made from rolled steel, while others such as girders may be welded. Popular stainless steel products include industrial multipurpose fasteners such as truss and rivet head binding posts.

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Discussion Comments
By calpat — On Feb 02, 2011

Did you know that there are steel wire products? I was surprised to find this out -- I always thought of steel as being this big, hard metal. But, it's even available as something as small and bendable as wire. It's used in so much more than I ever realized!

By geronimo8 — On Feb 01, 2011

We use steel for so many different things, that this article made me wonder how long it's been used. I was surprised to find out that it was produced as early as 4,000 years ago! Way back then, in B.C. times, one thing steel was used for was weapons. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a steel sword!

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