This ever-expanding glossary is your guide to the most commonly used terms and phrases in metal.
Alloying Elements - Chemical elements added for changing the properties of the finished products. Check out 11 common alloying elements here.
Annealing - A process of heating and cooling applied to induce softening or to achieve a specific microstructure.
Billet- A solid semi-finished round or square product that has been hot worked by forging, rolling or extrusion.
Cold Rolled - Flat rolled products for which the approximate required thickness has been obtained by rolling without heating at approximate room temperature.
Deoxidizing- The removal of oxygen from molten steel by use of suitable elements that react with oxygen readily.
Ductility – The ability of a material to deform plastically without fracturing, generally measured by elongation or reduction of area in a tensile test.
Elongation- In tensile testing, the increase in gauge length, measured after fracture of the specimen, usually expressed as a percentage of the original gauge length.
Forging- Forming hot metal into the desired shape by means of hammering or pressing.
Gauge - This number, which typically ranges between 3-30, indicates the thickness of a metal sheet. While the actual numbers do not indicate a specific dimensional value, the higher the gauge number the lower the thickness. Download a gauge conversion chart for more information.
Grinding and Polishing – Finishing operations that are applied to bars. First the bars are ground to close tolerance in centerless grinders and kept very straight during the operation. They are then saw cut on both ends to give a square, true cut, and burnished to a brilliant, bright finish. The results are bars with extremely close size tolerance, a high degree of straightness and a superior finish.
Hardness- Ability to resist penetration.
Hardenability- In a ferrous alloy, the property that determines the depth to which hardness can be induced by austenitizing and quenching.
Ingot - The solidified steel formed in a mold for subsequent rolling or forging.
Leveling – The flattening of steel plate and sheets. There are several methods, such as roller leveling and stretcher leveling.
Machinability - This indicates the relative ease at which a piece of metal can be machined.
Normalized - Condition of steel that has been heated to a suitable temperature above the transformation range and cooled in air to a temperature sustainability below the transformation range.
Pickling – Removing surface oxides from metals by chemical or electro-chemical reaction.
Quench and Temper – The steel is rapidly cooled from above its critical temperature range (austenitizing) to a temperature far below this range. Water or oil is used to accelerate the cooling. In the as-quenched condition, the product is not suitable for most commercial applications because of its poor ductility and high hardness. The steel must, therefore, be tempered in order to soften it somewhat to improve its ductility and toughness and relive internal stresses. Tempering is a reheating treatment done at temperatures usually in the range between 800 F and 1200 F.
Reduction – Reducing thickness of sheet or strip by hot or cold rolling.
Sheared Edge - Used when referring to plates that have an edge produced by shearing.
Temper - A condition produced in sheet steel by mechanical, chemical or thermal treatment. A given steel may be in fully softened or annealed temper, or it may be cold worked to the hard temper, or further to spring temper. Intermediate tempers produced by cold working (rolling) are called "quarter hard," "half-hard," and "three-quarters hard," and are determined by the amount of cold reduction.
Tension Leveling - A process for improving flatness in coils by pulling in tension.
Tensile Strength- Also referred to as ultimate strength, it is the maximum conventional stress (tensile, compressive, shear) that a steel can withstand.
Tolerance – Indicates the specified limits of deviation from a dimension.
Click below to download specific tolerances by product
Torsion – Strain created in a material by a twisting action. Correspondingly, the stress within the material resisting twisting.
Turning and Polishing - The process of cold finishing hot rolled bars by machining to the desired size on a lathe or turning machine, then polishing by rotating them through hardened steel rolls.
Ultimate Strength - This indicates the maximum conventional stress (tensile, compressive, shear) that a steel can withstand.