In general, these forms are thicker than stainless steel foil, but thinner than stainless steel plates. Thicknesses between 0.006inches and 0.250inches most commonly constitute a sheet though individual manufacturers may vary.
The thinness of stainless steel sheets is what makes them a popular choice as they are easily formed to specific shapes, but sturdy enough to hold a solid form after processing, which renders them vital to industries such as architecture, automotive, parts manufacturing and more. The material composition also boasts several benefits that make stainless steel sheeting a popular choice in the above industries as well as aeronautics, marine, medical and construction applications.
Stainless steel is not just one particular grade of steel, but a group of steel alloys lauded for extreme resistance to rust, wear and corrosion even in extreme or harsh conditions such as saltwater or chemical processing. Additional characteristics such as high ductility, strength and hardness add to the popularity of stainless steel products. Though the initial cost of stainless steel sheets may be higher than less corrosion resistant alternatives, stainless steel products are recyclable allowing manufacturers to recoup some expenses through scrap value.
The advantageous properties of stainless steel sheets are attributed to the specific composition of each grade of the metal. In general, stainless steel is an alloy of regular steel (iron ore which has been highly refined) and at least 10% chromium, along with much smaller amounts of carbon, nickel, molybdenum, silicone and aluminum in various combinations. The alloyed chromium forms a “passivation” layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the stainless steel sheet.
This protective layer is what prevents staining, wear and corrosion and gives this group of alloys their name. It is important to consider the specific composition of stainless steel sheeting with regards to the intended use of the material as even slight variations can have a significant effect on strength, corrosion resistance and price. Additional considerations include thickness, gauge thickness, overall width and overall length.
The specific method of production should also be considered as stainless steel sheet can be cast, wrought, extruded, compacted, cold finished, drawn or hot rolled with the latter being among the most common. Once purchased for a given application these stock shapes may undergo many different processes such as heat treating, descaling, roll forming, punching, stamping, slitting, cutting, metal spinning and other fabrication methods which create the panels, sinks, encasements, utensils and various other final components.