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What are the different types of sheet metal?

collage of different sheet metals

Varied metals and metal alloys can be formed into sheets and used to fabricate sheet metal parts. The choice of materials depends on the requirements of the application and factors in material selection include:

  • Formability
  • Weldability
  • Corrosion Resistance
  • Strength
  • Weight
  • Cost

Popular sheet metal materials include:

Stainless Steel

Stand and spring-like stainless steel are the two categories used in sheet metal fabrication.

  • Standard stainless can be non-magnetic; any of the 300 series steels are the most commonly used type of stainless. It does not require hot work or other stress relief during manufacturing. Grade 316 is the most corrosion-resistant of the stainless steel grades and maintains its strength at high temperatures. Grade 304 is the most widely used and, while it is somewhat less corrosion-resistant, offers good formability and weldability.
  • Standard type magnetic stainless for sheet metal fabrication is the 400 series. Grade 410 offers less corrosion resistance but is heat treatable. Grade 430 is an inexpensive alternative to the other stainless steel options and is used in applications where corrosion resistance is not a major requirement such as brush-finished appliance surfaces. Because these materials tend toward elastic rather than plastic deformation, they must be over bent to achieve the final form.
  • Spring-like steels will work-harden quickly and must be heated to relieve stresses when being formed. Grades include 301, 17-4, 1095, and 1075. Spring-like stainless typically requires specialized equipment and processes and must be over bent to achieve the final form.

Cold rolled steel (CRS)

The process of cold rolling steel is used to smooth the finish of hot rolled steel as well as to hold a tighter tolerance when forming. CRS is available in 1008 and 1018 alloys.

Pre-plated steel

This sheet metal material is either hot-dip galvanized steel or galvannealed steel, which is galvanized and then annealed.


A moderately-priced material, aluminum has a range of characteristics across several grades to meet application requirements. Grade 1100 offers relatively low strength but is chemical and weather-resistant, and weldable and ductile, allowing deep drawing. Grade 3003 is stronger and formable, weldable, corrosion-resistant, and affordable. Grade 5052 is significantly stronger while still formable, weldable, and corrosion-resistant. Grade 6061 is a structural alloy that is corrosion-resistant and strong, but not formable. It is weldable, though it sacrifices some strength when welded.


Designers and engineers who want a “red” metal typically choose electrolytically tough pitch (ETP) copper, either C110 or C101. In less frequent cases, cartridge brass is used as an alternative.

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