Hot Rolled Steel vs. Cold Rolled Steel: Which Should You Use?

Updated 7/15/2022

Steel is a versatile material used for a nearly infinite number of projects. From railroads to buildings and furniture, steel is one of the materials that surround us.

When you are in the process of manufacturing a product and are unsure of what kind of steel to use, we’re here to help. There are two basic manufacturing processes of steel — hot rolled and cold rolled. Both methods produce steel unique in its qualities, benefits and applications. Here is everything you need to know about the differences between hot rolled and cold rolled steel.

Hot Rolled Steel

Hot rolled steel is a steel product roll pressed at a high temperature that exceeds its recrystallization temperature. When steel is exposed to a temperature that surpasses the recrystallization temperature, the heat removes carbon from the steel, making it more malleable. When the steel cools to room temperature, it shrinks slightly and has a scaly surface finish. The finish can be removed by pickling or oiling the steel.

The Benefits of Hot Rolled Steel

One of the major benefits of hot rolled steel is its lower cost. Because it is processed once, it’s more affordable. You can also produce hot rolled steel in large quantities.

The Applications of Hot Rolled Steel

You can use hot rolled steel for projects that don’t contain exact dimensions. For example, this steel is great for building railroads, agricultural equipment, automotive frames, plate, and sheet metal.

Cold Rolled Steel

Cold rolled steel goes through the same process as hot rolled steel. After cooling, the hot rolled steel is further processed to make cold rolled steel. Further processing involves pressing the hot rolled steel at room temperature. This room-temperature process eliminates the scaly texture of the steel and strengthens the material to be more durable.

The Benefits of Cold Rolled Steel

Cold rolled steel is more expensive because it goes through further processing. This additional processing is crucial for giving the steel a smoother surface finish and strengthening the steel bonds.

The Applications of Cold Rolled Steel

Because cold rolled steel has a smoother finish, it’s great for aesthetic works like furniture. This steel is also great for more precise dimensional measurements for sheet metal, tubing and bar stock. It’s used in many applications including HVAC, data centers, conveyor systems, and machinery, just to name a few.

Choose the Steel Manufacturing Method Best Suited for Your Work

Depending on the work you do, you will have to choose between hot rolled steel and cold rolled steel.

Hot rolled steel is roll pressed at a high temperature that shrinks slightly when cooling, which prevents the steel from taking on a controlled final shape. This steel is best suited for your large-scale applications like building structures and railroads.

Cold rolled steel is hot rolled steel that is further processed. This steel is great for more precise shapes and aesthetic pieces like furniture.

If you have more questions about the two manufacturing processes of steel, ask PBZ Manufacturing for guidance. Our company is a full-service fabrication partner that offers a complete manufacturing process from initial design all the way through to shipping. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling 717-584-8767.

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