If you want to buy rolled steel products, then you have to decide whether to go for hot or cold rolling. While both of these manufacturing processes shape steel, they work in slightly different ways and produce different finished results.

What is the difference between hot and cold rolling? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each process?

Understanding Hot Rolled Steel

Hot rolled steel uses high heat and a rolling process to manufacture steel products. Here, the steel is heated past its recrystallisation temperature. Once steel gets this hot, you can shape it, mould it, roll it or stretch it to turn it into the products you need.

Once the steel has gone through this process, it goes through a cooling process. Typically, the steel is left to cool down on its own at room temperature.

This process, and the products it creates, have some benefits. Hot rolling is the fastest way to roll steel. You effectively simply heat the steel, work on it and then let it cool down. This keeps its costs low. Your finished products are also less likely to suffer from weakening stress problems.

However, hot rolling has some downsides. After you've worked on the hot steel, you leave it to cool naturally. During this part of the process, you lose control over how the steel reacts. So, the finished steel might shrink, expand or warp. Its dimensions might not be exact.

Hot rolling also leaves steel with a rougher surface. You might need to put the steel through finishing processes to improve the way it looks if this is important to you.

Understanding Cold Rolled Steel

Cold rolled steel goes through the same process as hot rolled steel to start with. The steel is heated, shaped and left to cool at room temperature. However, cold rolling involves another step. Once the steel has cooled down, it goes through a cold finishing process. For example, it might be rolled or pressed to finish it off once it has cooled down.

This extra step gives you some extra benefits. Cold rolling typically produces more precise sizes and dimensions. You usually get a smoother and more cosmetically appealing finish. The steel won't need any extra work once it has been produced.

This extra step does make cold-rolled steel more expensive, however. It is also not always as strong as hot-rolled products. The extra work you do on the steel can sometimes weaken it.

To find out more, contact steel supplies professionals. They can help you choose the right type of steel for your project.