How to cut steel plate? How to measure the weight of steel plate? How to ensure steel plate is as flat as possible? If you’re involved with buying steel plate, these are some of the questions you may have pondered at some point in time.

Of course, each project and each application is unique. But some general rules of thumb can get you started answering these commonly asked questions.

How to cut steel plate

There are four primary methods for cutting steel. Determining which is best when cutting plate should be dictated by the print requirements as well as cost. Of course, many facets fall in between those two factors.

Oxyfuel can provide a cost-effective cut and can process ¾” to 20”.  Tolerances held are +/-.060 through 2”.  +/- .125 from over 2” to 6”.

Another option is plasma when dealing with thinner plate—roughly 3/16” – 1.50” with associated tolerances in the range of +/-.060. 

“When cutting plate, you need to look at the alloy of material,” says Jeff Pitzenberger, Ryerson’s Fabrication Sales Manager. “Some grades will react differently to the same procedures when cutting.”

He adds that the process used also needs to be considered when considering heat affected zones.  “Increasing cutting heat levels with plate that has higher carbon levels can leave a part with very hardened edges. Those hardened edges cause a lot of machining issues with broken tooling being the result.”

It’s best to never take a torch (i.e., flame cutting) to aluminum plate, as the process results in harmful gases being emitted from the material. Instead, it’s best to use waterjet for thicker aluminum plate and laser for thinner aluminum plate.

How to measure steel plate weight

When determining the weight of a steel plate, the standard formula considers density. It factors weight by length by thickness by density. For example, the weight of carbon steel is .2836.

Of course, a good rule of thumb to determine how much steel plate weighs is to refer to your Ryerson Stock List.

What is the price and availability of steel plate? Check it out here. 

How to ensure steel plate is flat

Did you know that metal has a memory? That means you are going to want to ensure the material has no coil set or spring back and instead stay flat during the laser cutting process.

That “memory” can be erased using the temper pass method. This involves the application of pressure to the metal. Picture two giant rolling pins that apply an extreme amount of pressure as they compress the plate (this also applies to sheet).

This process elongates the plate and removes stress. It results in a more uniform thickness across the entire width of the material.

Ryerson’s temper mill facility, located in Northeast Arkansas, provides a combination of temper passing and leveling, providing our customers with plate that is extremely flat and remains flat even after shearing, burning, punching, laser cutting, or other secondary operation. It provides a surface quality that is ideal for painting, powder coating, and other finishes.

However, roller-leveling and temper passing are not the only methods to flatten plate. Stretcher leveling removes bowing and warpage by applying uniform tension between the ends.

Ryerson’s stretcher leveling facility in Streetsboro, Ohio provides carbon steel sheet and coil plate that is stretched past the material’s yield point to equalize all the internal stresses and provide material that is of superior flatness.

The stretcher level process also aids the forming or press brake process by providing a flat product with no edge wave.

(illustration below shows close up of temper pass machine)