Category Archive: Uncategorized

What is a Weld Coupon?

A weld test coupon is a small piece of metal used to test a welder’s proficiency in various welding procedures. Weld coupons are commonly utilized for applications such as welder qualifications, training, practicing difficult joints, and more. Here, we will dive into the specifics of weld coupons and their different applications, as well as the purpose of welder qualification tests.

What Is a Weld Coupon?

Welding is critical to various industrial tasks; therefore, it’s important for welders to demonstrate their proficiency to ensure they can deliver quality results. Many welding certifications require welders to showcase their skill level by passing a welding coupon test according to the required standards and codes.

Welding coupons are small pieces of metal, typically in plate or pipe form, used to evaluate a welder’s skill through destructive testing, visual inspection, and other methods. This allows welding professionals to demonstrate and determine another welder’s ability to deposit a high-quality weld joint.

Other Applications of Weld Coupons

Weld coupon testing is ideal for various applications, including:

  • Welder Qualification/Certification. Weld coupons can be used for welding qualification tests, which determine whether a person or machine can produce a quality weld that is up to code.
  • Welder Training. Weld coupons can be used to demonstrate proper welding techniques and assess a trainee’s skills.
  • Welding Procedure Qualification. Welders must be able to meet specific inspection criteria to become qualified for certain welding procedures. Weld test coupons can be used for this qualification process.
  • Mock Fit-up/Practice Joints. Professional welders and trainees can use weld coupons to develop mock-ups and practice complex joints.
  • Procedure Qualification Record (PQR) Materials. A PQR documents what happened during weld coupon testing as well as the result of the test.

What Is the Welder Qualification Test?

A welding qualification test is a hands-on skills test conducted by a certified welding inspector to determine the quality of a welder or machine’s welds based on the code or procedure required by the industry standard, job site, or company. Specifically, a welding qualification test demonstrates a welder’s ability to deposit a quality weld when following a qualified welding procedure. As such, welders are typically provided with a Welding Procedure Specification (WPS) to follow while performing the test.

If a welder can demonstrate their ability to perform a weld that requires a high skill level, they will be deemed competent to perform welding procedures that are easier than what was demonstrated during the qualification test.

Welder qualification tests can take various forms. The reasons for this include:

  • Each welding process requires different skill sets to perform.
  • Different materials present their own difficulties or issues when welding and therefore require different skills.
  • Different-sized workpieces require specific skills to account for varying diameters and thicknesses.
  • Welding different-shaped materials, like plates and pipes, require different skills.
  • Each welding code has its own unique requirements.

Weld Coupons From AAA Metals

Welding coupons play a critical role in evaluating a person or machine’s ability to accurately carry out certain welding procedures and create high-quality joints. At AAA Metals, we can manufacture weld test coupons in high quantities for use in various applications, including qualification tests, recalibrating robotic welders, training/practice, and more. Using grinders, we can create weld coupons with specific angles that can be used to practice and perform welding tests at difficult angles.

For more information about our weld coupon capabilities, contact AAA Metals or request a quote today. You can learn more by browsing our precision waterjet cutting, precision sawing, and precision laser cutting services.

Stainless Steel Shapes

Stainless steel is one of the most preferred manufacturing materials due to its great durability. It is also easy to work with, as it can be cut, welded, and bent while maintaining strength. Moreover, stainless steel lasts considerably longer than other substances and does not easily rust or corrode.

For steel construction and other industrial applications, stainless steel is available in various forms and shapes. Particularly, it is utilized in applications where a corrosion-resistant and hard material is required.

Here are some of the most common stainless steel shapes used for a variety of purposes:


Also known as L-shaped, stainless steel angles have two straight legs (angled at 90°) that may be of equal or varied length and are tapered. They are extensively used for construction purposes, such as edge trims, frames, and brackets. They also have exceptional corrosion resistance and are advantageous in applications where hygiene is essential, including commercial kitchens, medical facilities, and laboratories.


Stainless steel channels, called C-shaped, have top and bottom flanges with a connecting web. Depending on the particular grade, the applications for stainless steel channels can vary. For instance, Type 304 channel beams are suitable for medical equipment and the transport of chemicals, pigments, crude oils, and refined oils. Meanwhile, Type 316 channels are often used for building and architectural purposes. They are also more expensive than 304 due to their greater corrosion resistance.

Hexagonal Bars

Stainless steel hexagonal bars provide good machining qualities. Thus, they are excellent for repeatedly turned components, such as bolts and nuts. Additionally, hexagonal bars are common in the medical sector, food processing industry, tooling, and mechanical engineering.

Hollow Bars

Stainless steel hollow bars offer great corrosion resistance and are normally available in various grades and sizes to meet different technical and manufacturing needs. These bars are commonly used in the construction, medical, food production, and pharmaceutical industries.

Round Bars

Round bars have smooth surfaces used for construction applications that do not require high-strength reinforced concrete. They are widely used on beams, column stirrups, pipelines, roads, and other similar industrial purposes.

Flat Bars

Flat bars are durable materials commonly used in applications requiring narrower widths and diameters. They are often available in straight lengths or custom sizes. Furthermore, stainless steel flat bars are appropriate for use in the building, petrochemical, beverage production, and architectural industries.

Tee Sections

Stainless steel tee sections — also known as T-profiles, T-bars, or T-beams — have T-shaped cross sections created by longitudinally cutting the webs. They are resistant to corrosion and have simple surfaces to clean and sterilize. Furthermore, they are frequently used in various structural and architectural applications, including trims, edgings, frames, and facades.


Stainless steel sheets are made from an alloy of steel and chromium. Although the thickness of stainless steel sheets can differ, they are typically thicker than metal foils or leaves but thinner than metal plates. Their common uses are in the construction, food processing, automotive, chemical, and marine industries.


Stainless steel plates do not stain, corrode, or rust as easily as normal carbon steel since their chromium content prevents surface corrosion when exposed to air and atmospheric moisture. As a result, they are the most preferred stainless steel shape in applications that require little maintenance but high corrosion resistance.

Choose AAA Metals for High-Quality Metals and Metal Processing Services!

AAA Metals is a global stainless steel shapes supplier with polishing and finishing services. We also offer premium metal processing services for round bars, square bars, plates, pipes, tubes, sheets, and more. Browse our extensive metal stock to see if we offer the specific material you require!

Contact us for more information on our stainless steel shapes and processing services. You can also request a quote, and we will be happy to assist you with your needs!

Stainless Steel Finishes

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The appearance of stainless steel comes down to how it was finished. Some stainless steels look smooth and consistent, while others look grainy and rough — all of which are outcomes of the finishing processes. Whether you are looking for durability, corrosion resistance, or low cost, there is a distinct finish for your requirements.

This article will define a surface finish, describe the finishing process, and discuss the different types of stainless steel finishes.

What Is a Surface Finish?

Surface finishing alters the outermost layer of a metal by adding, removing, or reshaping. This essential technique aims to protect the metal while improving its appearance.

The surface finish chosen is critical where fabrication processes will be used. For example, rough surface finishes are appropriate when the steel is ground before painting and gluing, whereas smooth surface finishes are preferred when the steel is blended. On the other hand, a visually appealing surface finish is necessary for projects where design is a priority.

How Does the Stainless Steel Finishing Process Work?

The primary finishing method is to “cold roll” the stainless steel through special rolls or dies. Cold rolling usually results in smoother, less pitted surfaces. It is then softened and de-scaled in an acid solution before the steel is given a final pass on polished rolls to improve its smoothness.

Different finishes suit various requirements. Here is a closer look at the commonly used finishes for most stainless steels and their applications.

What Are the Different Finish Types?

The various types of finishes are graded on a scale of 0 to 10.

No. 0

This finish is also known as Hot Rolled Annealed (HRA) steel. The plate is hot rolled to the required thickness before annealing, which results in a rough, scaled-black finish. This process does not produce a completely corrosion-resistant film on the stainless steel, and it is not suitable for general use except in specific high-temperature heat-resistant applications.

No. 1

The plate is hot rolled, annealed, pickled, and coated in this finish type. The process produces a dull, slightly rough surface ideal for industrial applications involving various plate thicknesses. Several applications of the No. 1 finish include the following:

  • Air heaters
  • Annealing boxes
  • Carburizing boxes
  • Firebox sheets
  • Furnace conveyors and linings

No. 2

The No. 2 finish can be classified into multiple subcategories:

–  No. 2D

This finish type is the No. 1 finish after being cold rolled, annealed, pickled, and coated. It produces a more uniform matte finish than No. 1. It is also used in the following applications:

  • Chemical equipment
  • Electric range parts
  • Furnace parts
  • Railcar parts
  • Roofing

–  No. 2B

This second subcategory is a No. 2D finish with a light skin pass cold rolling operation between the rolls. However, the No. 2B finish has higher reflectivity and brightness. It is also the most commonly produced and requested finish on sheet materials. It is typically used in applications such as the following:

  • Bakeware
  • Dyehouse equipment
  • Flatware
  • Pharmaceutical equipment
  • Plumbing fixtures

–   No. 2BA

This type is referred to as a Bright Annealed (BA) finish. It is created by cold rolling a No. 1 finish on the steel surface with highly polished rolls. This aids in smoothing and brightening the surface, and its applications include the following:

  • Architectural components
  • Commercial refrigerators
  • Cookware
  • Fishing equipment
  • Surgical instruments

No. 3

This finish type is produced with an abrasive of 80-100 grit. It is also an excellent intermediate or starting surface finish for use when the steel will require additional polishing processes to a more refined finish after succeeding fabrication. Among its applications are the following:

  • Brewery equipment
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Food processing equipment
  • Scientific apparatus

The remaining finishes are defined by the eventual outcome of the finish rather than by a structured methodology:

  • 4: Similar to No. 3 but with slightly higher polish and reflectivity; used in applications such as appliances, beverage equipment, elevator doors and interiors, and water fountains.
  • 5: Satin; most widely used in coastal architectural elements where a reflective or bright finish is not suitable
  • 6: Satin (Scotch-BriteTM)
  • 7: Reflective but not clear; used in architectural and decorative applications
  • 8: Mirrored; used in column covers, mirrors, ornamental trim, press plates, wall panels, and signage
  • 9: Ultra-mirrored with a bead-blasted surface
  • 10: Electropolished and heat-colored

High-Quality Finishing Services at AAA Metals

Finishes should always be specified and defined using industry-standard designations. At AAA Metals, we can make your project a reality!

We specialize in stainless steel polishing for consumables, discs, forgings, pipes and tubing, rings, and pumps in all industries. We have been a frontrunner in stainless steel polishing for over three decades, with complete in-house capabilities for belt sanding, grinding, face, edge, and OD polishing. Moreover, our advanced tools include multi-head machines and belt sanders with ceramic, zirconia, and nylon-impregnated polishing belts.

Contact us directly for more information on our high-quality stainless steel finishing services or other capabilities, or you can request a quote today!

Marine-Grade Stainless Steel 101

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Unlike standard machinery, marine equipment must endure sea air and salt spray for long periods, rusting at a faster rate for reduced operational efficiency. Stainless steel, while naturally resistant to corrosion, may still underperform in harsh marine conditions.

Marine-grade stainless steel, then, is the answer for coastal and other related applications. This variety of stainless steel boasts a particular strength, ruggedness, and high corrosion resistance compared to other metals. Read on to learn more about corrosion and the types of marine-grade stainless steel that best resist it in marine projects.

Avoiding Corrosion With Stainless Steel

In marine environments, salt is among the biggest threats to metal. It’s a highly corrosive substance, and salt spray from the sea can be a real problem for equipment in coastal operations. Through the chemical process of oxidation, iron molecules in steel produce flaky oxides on the metal’s surface when oxygen and iron molecules come into contact with water, causing deterioration. Corrosive elements like salt degrade steel components, most often in the form of rust.

One of the most common ways to avoid metal degradation is to use stainless steel, which is renowned for its anti-corrosive qualities. This alloy is mainly made up of iron, along with a combination of the following:

  • Aluminum
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Titanium

It’s the chromium that is primarily responsible for corrosion resistance at 10.5% or more of stainless steel’s material composition. A protective skin of chromium oxide forms on the material’s surface to safeguard the base metal against moisture exposure, preventing iron oxide and rust from forming.

Understanding the Different Grades of Stainless Steel for Marine Applications

Although all stainless steel grades are resistant to corrosion to some degree, marine-grade stainless steel is ideal for marine applications. Marine-grade steel boasts a level of corrosion and rust resistance that is superior to other metals, with various grades offering unique advantages in the marine industry.

Grade 316 Stainless Steel

Potentially the most common type of marine-grade stainless steel, Grade 316 stainless steel contains 16% chromium and up to 3% molybdenum, which is a higher percentage of this hard and tough metallic element than in other steel varieties. It also contains 8% nickel, which enhances resistance to caustic materials. This composition increases the metal’s resistance to the degradation and pitting that salt water can cause and increases marine components’ life span.

In addition to brine, Grade 316 is also highly resistant to iodides, bromides, chlorides, and sulfuric and fatty acids. It’s this durability that allows it to withstand harsh marine environments. Regarding fabrication, marine-grade stainless steel is quite compatible with welding and finishing services, making it simple to use as well as clean. Given its abilities, Grade 316 does tend to be more expensive than some other varieties, such as Grade 304.

Grade 304 Stainless Steel

Grade 304 stainless steel is another popular material that’s effective in marine environments. It’s composed of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, which give the metal good resistance qualities to caustic substances and moderate acids. It’s easy to work with, being a stainless steel grade that is simple to fabricate and clean.

This versatile metal is ideal for outdoor applications such as storage tanks, exhaust manifolds, electrical enclosures, piping, and wheel covers, and it’s available in varying aesthetics and finishes. Unfortunately, as it lacks molybdenum, Grade 304 is still prone to pitting, or localized corrosion, from chloride solutions typical in saltwater environments.

Contact AAA Metals for Marine-Grade Stainless Steel Solutions

The experts at AAA Metals Company Inc. are ready to help you choose the most suitable type of stainless steel for your marine application. Since 1978, we have built a reputation as a trusted partner for quality materials, proudly distributing numerous grades of stainless steel, titanium, nickel alloy, and hard-to-find metals. Our raw metal bars, rings, plates, forgings, discs, pipes, and tubing are available from stock, in mill form, precision cut, or polished.

We utilize our water jet and laser cutting, precision sawing, multi-shearing, and polishing capabilities to serve as your full-service supplier. Also, our global distribution network allows us to fulfill orders of virtually any size with competitive pricing to diverse businesses worldwide. To learn more about the AAA Metals difference and our material offerings for marine-grade stainless steel, contact us or request a quote today.

Food Grade Stainless Steel Selection Guide

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The food processing industry must meet strict standards and regulations for health and safety. As more and more facilities are implementing automated machinery and components for faster production, this equipment must be constructed from food-safe materials and finishes.

Food-grade stainless steel offers an optimal material choice for the food industry. Available in various grades, the many beneficial properties and features of stainless steel ensure that all food safety and hygiene standards are met, making it ideal for a wide range of food applications.

Stainless Steel Features & Benefits for the Food Industry

Stainless steel is a popular material choice for food handling applications for a multitude of reasons. Not only can the material withstand harsh temperatures, but its protective oxide layer protects against the formation of rust that could lead to food contamination. One of the most important attributes of food-grade stainless steel is that it contains no dangerous chemicals that could transfer into foods.

Other features and benefits that make stainless steel a good choice for the food industry include:

  • Great corrosion resistance
  • Extreme strength
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Non-reactive surface
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Impermeable surface to prevent contamination
  • Available in various finishes
  • Chemical and bacterial neutrality
  • Made to handle frequent cleanings with harsh detergents
  • Does not retain or transfer food smells

Choosing the Best Stainless Steel Food Grade for Your Application

While there are several types of stainless steel available, only a few are considered food-grade. Nearly all food-grade stainless steels come from the 300 and 400 series, including:

  • 304 Grade Stainless Steel. 304 stainless steel offers an affordable option for nearly any food processing environment. It can withstand corrosion from several oxidizing acids, meaning it is easy to sanitize. It also boasts great weldability and formability, allowing it to be manufactured into various types of food processing equipment. Common applications for 304 stainless steel include storage tanks, fermentation vats, dishwashers, and more.
  • 316 Grade Stainless Steel. 316 stainless steel is an austenitic alloy with high nickel and chromium content. Similar to other steel alloys, it can be continuously used at temperatures significantly higher than most food handling processes require. This grade is also resistant to chlorides (such as salt), alkalis, and acids, making it great for nearly any food application.
  • 430 Grade Stainless Steel. This material has equal chromium content to grade 316 but only a fraction of the nickel content, making it a more cost-effective alternative for food processors. 430 grade stainless steel is highly resistant to organic and nitric acids, meaning it is often found in applications involving extended contact with mildly acidic compounds. This material is also resistant to oxidation, sulfur, and corrosion cracking.

Common Applications

Various applications within the food and beverage industry depend on food-grade stainless steel. Stainless steel is preferred over other materials in the following applications:

  • Beer kegs
  • Confectionary equipment
  • Conveyor systems
  • Double-wall transport containers
  • Evaporator tubes
  • Flour silos
  • Food mixers
  • Food pulverizers
  • Ice cream molds
  • Industrial ovens
  • Peeling machines
  • Syrup tanks
  • Tanks holding dairy

Contact AAA Metals for Premium Stainless Steel Metal Solutions

Food-grade stainless steel is ideal for various food processing applications, offering corrosion and heat resistance, durability, neutrality, and ease of sanitization. AAA Metals has been supplying and processing stainless steel and other metals since 1978. We offer various stainless steel materials for the food industry, including food-grade stainless steel sheets, pipes, and precision-cut pieces for your desired application. In addition, we offer in-house capabilities such as finishing, polishing, shearing, precision sawing, and waterjet cutting.

For more information about stainless steel for the food industry, or to learn more about our offerings, contact us or request a quote today.

Stainless Steel Grades: A Selection Guide (300 and 400 Series)

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If an application requires durable steel that’s designed to last, they’re likely to use stainless steel. Stainless steels are iron-based alloys that include a chromium content of at least 10.5% or higher. This level of chromium content facilitates the development of a passive chromium oxide layer on the steel’s surface, which allows for optimal corrosion resistance for every grade of stainless steel.

Stainless steel also tends to include other alloy content, including carbon, nickel, manganese, silicon, and molybdenum, each of which enhances certain stainless steel properties. Manufacturers often alloy stainless steel with these elements to increase stainless steel’s heat resistance, formability, and durability based on the needs of a particular application.

Depending on what you require, multiple grades exist to help you complete your next project. By understanding the differences between each grade, you’ll better be able to make the right selection.

300 Series Stainless Steel

The most popular stainless steel grade is the 300 series. 300 series stainless steels typically include nickel, chromium, and molybdenum content. They provide superior corrosion resistance, along with other benefits such as:

  • Excellent machinability
  • A non-magnetic austenitic crystalline structure
  • Resistance to high temperatures
  • Broad finishing options
  • Easy maintenance
  • Resistance to etching, scratching, and cracking
  • Thermal shock resistance
  • High creep strength
  • Nitriding and carburization resistance

Each of the 300 series stainless steel grades features different properties. These grades include:


303 stainless steel is extremely machinable because of its phosphorus and sulfur content. Applications for this steel include fittings, bolts, gears, and nuts in the aerospace industry.


The majority of applications that use 300 series stainless steel use grade 304. The automotive, nuclear, food and beverage, and shipping industries often use this grade. Additionally, welding applications often use a variation called 304L, which features a reduced amount of carbon content.


Some applications use 316 stainless steel due to its excellent corrosion resistance, particularly to chlorides like seawater and salt. The increased nickel and molybdenum content allows for this superior corrosion resistance. 316L is a low-carbon variation of this steel. 316 stainless steel often appears in marine and nuclear environments, while the pharmaceutical and chemical industries frequently rely on 316L.

Applications for 300 series stainless steels include a variety of materials in the automotive, construction, and aerospace industries, among many others.

400 Series Stainless Steel

For applications that require adequate corrosion resistance and a more cost-effective solution, 400 series stainless steel grades are available. This series normally contains a combination of manganese and chromium content. While these grades are resistant to corrosion, they aren’t as corrosion-resistant as the 300 series. Because of this, these grades tend to cost less. 

Some of the key characteristics of 400 series stainless steel grades include:

  • Superior strength compared to carbon steel
  • A magnetic martensitic crystalline structure
  • Good surface finishing options
  • Non-hardenable via heat treating
  • Sufficient sustainability for applications requiring thinner materials and reduced weight
  • Resistance to scaling at high temperatures

Additional benefits include easy machinability, heat treatability to a wide range of strength and hardness levels, and good ductility.

The two main grades of 400 series stainless steel include:


This stainless steel grade contains sulfur for increased machinability. The quality of 416 stainless steel makes it compatible with many applications, including pumps, gears, valves, studs, and washing machine parts.


If applications need stainless steel with high resistance to wear and increased durability, 440C stainless steel is a popular option. However, it’s not as corrosion-resistant as other grades. Nozzles, surgical instruments, and bearings use 440C stainless steel, along with other items that require material to retain its shape.

Applications for 400 series stainless steel include machine components, medical implements, and other parts that require added machinability and strength.

stainless steel grades

Stainless Steel from AAA Metals

For a selection of high-quality stainless steel products, turn to the experts at AAA Metals Company Inc. Since 1978, we’ve developed into a leading supplier of raw materials, including plates, discs, rings, bars, and much more using stainless steel and other alloys. 

If you would like additional information about our metal stock and services, contact us today. To get started on a project using stainless steel or other alloys, request a quote.



Stainless Steel Bar | Round, Square, Hex, Flat Bars

Stainless steel bars are fabricated from raw metal alloys with precise dimensions and cross-sectional geometries. Stock can be quickly cut to the right length, further modified by manufacturing and machining processes, and more. Learn more about our array of stainless steel bar options and how AAA Metals can help with your next project.

Stainless Steel Bar Options and Common Applications

Steel bar stock is a step closer to the completion of your next manufacturing project than starting with raw steel material. Metal bar stock is used in applications across every industry around the world. Not only is it convenient, but the bars are treated to resist corrosion, stay durable throughout a long lifespan in different consumer, commercial, and industrial conditions, and resist physical damage. All bars start as round bar stock before being sized and drawn through the coil line to create precise cross-sectional shapes.

With steel bar stock, you can quickly manufacture or machine uniform products for sale or use. At AAA Metals, we provide the following stainless steel bar options:

Round Bar

Click to ExpandStainless Steel Bar | Round, Square, Hex, Flat Bars

Round bars can be used to produce a wide range of consumer and commercial products, structural components, and more. The rounded edges are finished to eliminate the risk of sharp edges down the length of the material. We provide round bar stock made from different stainless steel varieties, such as: 303 stainless steel, which responds well to machining and resists corrosion; 304 stainless steel, which is versatile and heat-resistant; and 316 stainless steel, which has a high molybdenum content to withstand corrosion in marine, outdoor, and chemically caustic environments.

Some common applications of round bars include fasteners, shafts, and railings.

Square Bar

Square bars are categorized by their size, or the length of one side of its face. Square bars are available in a variety of sizes and lengths at AAA Metals, as well as in a range of popular stainless steel alloys. Square bars are commonly used as piers and supports in industrial or construction applications, though they can also be used in ornamental fabrications. Square bars are durable, strong, resistant to damage, and versatile.

Hex Bar

Hex bars are available in an array of sizes and lengths, and they have a hexagonal cross-section. Size is categorized by the distance from one flat face to the flat face on the opposite side of the steel hex bar, rather than the length of a given face.

Because of the bar’s hexagonal shape, it’s commonly used to produce volumes of fasteners, such as washers, nuts, and other fittings. The lengths of bar can be cut down to size and then drilled or machined to create threaded openings throughout its length.

Flat Bar

Flat stainless steel bars are generally available in two varieties: edge-treated bars with sheared, cost-effective edges that are then smoothed as the bar is flattened; and the stainless steel flat bars, which are uniformly produced through hot rolling, annealing, and pickling (HRAP) or cold drawing. Edge-treated flat bars are cost effective, while true bars are precise and sharp. Stainless steel flat bars are available in many sizes, thicknesses, and stainless steel alloys.


AAA Metals, Your Trusted Stainless Steel Bar Supplier

At AAA Metals, we specialize in complete metalforming and manufacturing solutions. Our specialties include custom services such as cutting, grinding, and polishing for low-volume and high-volume projects.

We also provide high quality metal stock and complete metal pieces, so you can simplify your supply chain. Our inventory includes bars in stainless steel, nickel alloy, titanium, and hard-to-find metals, so you can obtain stock, milled, and machined pieces quickly.

A Guide to Metal Cutting | Comparing Metal Cutting Methods

Metal cutting is a manufacturing process in which a larger piece of material is separated into smaller pieces or parts. There are numerous metal cutting methods available, each of which offers distinct benefits and limitations that make it suitable for different manufacturing projects. Below, we highlight some of the most common, outlining how they work, what advantages and disadvantages they have, what types of metals they cut, and what applications they are used in to help industry professionals choose the best method for their needs:


An Overview of Sawing/Saw Cutting

Sawing—also sometimes referred to as a saw cutting—is a cutting method that utilizes a saw blade—i.e., a tool with sharp metal teeth—to cut material into more manageable sections or specific shapes and sizes. The primary types of saw cutting employed by manufacturers are circular saw cutting and band saw cutting. Circular saw cutting uses a circular blade that cuts material as it spins, while band saw cutting uses an extended straight blade that provides continuous, uniform action.

Advantages Offered

This cutting method offers several advantages over some of the other metal cutting methods. For example, it allows for close tolerance cutting, which reduces the amount of waste generated during cutting operations. Additionally, it offers both fast cutting speeds and high cut quality, which results in quicker turnaround without a need for further finishing procedures. Altogether, these result in lower overall project costs for some applications.

Materials Used

Sawing accommodates a variety of metals, including, but not limited to, aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, high-temperature alloys, nickel alloys, stainless steel, and titanium. It can cut these materials in bar, plate, pipe and tube form. However, it is best suited for cutting materials with greater thicknesses or varying cross-sections since the equipment can have difficulty keeping thin, flat material stable as it is cut.

Industries Served

Some of the industries that regularly rely on saw cutting to help produce their parts and products include aerospace, architectural, biotechnology, chemical, food processing, marine, packaging, and pharmaceutical.


An Overview of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a cutting method that employs high-powered, focused beams of light to heat, melt, and cut through material without touching it directly. It can utilize a variety of cutting and removal mechanisms to suit different materials and cutting requirements. In addition to separating larger pieces into smaller pieces or parts, the laser technology can also be used to etch or engrave materials for functional and aesthetic purposes.

Advantages Offered

Today, many laser cutting technologies come with computerized controls. These systems help position and move the laser across the material precisely and accurately, ensuring the cut piece has the proper shape and size. In addition to high cutting precision and accuracy, other advantages laser cutting offers over some of the other metal cutting methods include smaller maintenance and replacement costs, lower chance of material contamination, and greater workplace safety.

Materials Used

This metal cutting method can be used on a wide range of materials. It is often employed to cut plates and sheets made from aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, stainless steel, and titanium. It is not suitable for use with heat-sensitive or reflective materials since the former may deform while the latter may cause damage to the equipment.

Industries Served

Laser cutting finds application in the manufacturing operations of a wide range of industries. Some of the industries that regularly use it include aerospace, architectural, biotechnology, chemical, food processing, marine, packaging, and pharmaceutical.


An Overview of Waterjet Cutting

Waterjet cutting is a metal cutting method that utilizes pressurized water to cut material into the desired shape and size. The high-pressure streams of water—i.e., waterjets—can also have added abrasives, such as aluminum oxide or garnet, to aid the cutting process, ensuring a complete cut through even very thick or very hard materials.

Advantages Offered

Waterjet cutting is a cold cutting method, meaning it does not require a material to be heated or stressed by machinery. As a result, it generates a smaller heat affected zone (HAZ) during cutting operations, which reduces the risk of material thermally distorting. Additionally, compared to laser cutting, it cuts thicker materials to tighter tolerances and produces less slag byproducts.

Materials Used

This metal cutting method works well with a variety of materials, such as aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, steel, and titanium. It can be used to cut plates and sheets up to 6 inches in thickness.

Industries Served

Waterjet cutting can make 2D and 3D cuts, depending on the equipment. This quality allows manufacturers to make simple and complex components for various industries. Examples of waterjet cut parts and products include engines, turbine blades, and control panels for the aerospace industry and pipes and pumps for the marine industry.


An Overview of Shearing

Shearing is a metal cutting method that uses a moving upper blade and a stationary lower blade that are slightly offset from one another to cut material. As the upper blade descends, it pushes the material down on the lower blade. The pressure exerted deforms the material, eventually causing it to strain and give way. This forms the cut.

Advantages Offered

Compared to other cutting methods, shearing is much more versatile. In addition to cutting, shearing machines can also be used to bend, punch, and press metal materials. The process also produces virtually no waste since no chips are generated during cutting operations, which can help reduce overall material costs.

Materials Used

This cutting method is best suited for plate and sheet materials. Thick materials may require too much force to cut, while hollow materials may deform when cut. Typical materials used include aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, nickel, stainless steel, and titanium.

Industries Served

Sheared metal components are found in various industries. Examples include aircraft engines, discs, pipes, pumps, rings, and tubing.


A Guide To Metal Cutting | Comparing Metal Cutting Methods

Custom Metal Cutting Services from AAA Metals

Whether you need saw cutting, laser cutting, waterjet cutting, or shearing services for your project, AAA Metals has got your back! We can cut a broad selection of metals into various shapes, sizes, and quantities to exacting specifications. To learn more about our cutting capabilities and how to determine which one is right for you, contact us today. To discuss your cutting requirements with one of our experts, request a quote.



Sawing vs. Shearing – Metal Cutting Methods

There are many metal cutting methods available. Two of the most commonly used are sawing and shearing. Each of these processes has its own advantages and disadvantages that make it suitable for different applications. Below, we provide an overview of both processes to help customers identify which one is right for their needs.

Sawing 101

Sawing utilizes a band saw cutting tool with small teeth around its circumference. As the blade moves across the surface of the metal, the teeth gradually remove pieces of material. The kerf of the cut—i.e., the width of the material removed—is slightly larger than the width of the saw blade.

Some of the reasons to choose sawing for metal cutting operations include:

  • Ideal for thicker materials. Band saws can maintain an accurate cut for thick materials like plates, bars, pipes, and tubes.
  • Broad material flexibility. The sawing process can accommodate thicker materials with a variety of cross-sections (e.g., tubes and I-beams).
  • Straight cuts. Band saws produce square edges, which makes the cutting process suitable for materials that require accurately straight cuts.
  • Small kerfs. Saw blades (particularly band saw blades using Cobalt material) typically leverage raker set teeth to produce smaller kerfs than the cutting instruments used in other cutting processes. As a result, less material is lost, which translates to greater material utilization and lower material waste generation.

Shearing 101

Shearing is a cutting method that utilizes two blades—a moving upper blade and a stationary lower blade—that are slightly offset from one another. During cutting operations, the stock material is clamped perpendicularly between the two blades. As the upper blade descends, it pushes the material down onto the lower blade. The load causes the material to deform and eventually split, forming the cut.

Some of the reasons to choose shearing for metal cutting operations include:

  • Ideal for thin sheets. The thicker the material, the more tonnage required to shear it, which can cause the material to stretch before it shears. This can cause tolerance issues as well as more cleanup.
  • Faster. Hydraulic shearing is more efficient and can cut materials more quickly.
  • Clean cuts with smooth edges. Cuts produced by shearing machines are generally clean and smooth, which decreases the amount of time and money needed for post-cutting finishing operations.
  • Little to no waste. The shearing process does not produce chips when cutting material, which reduces the amount of material lost and wasted.

Sawing vs. Shearing: Which Metal Cutting Method to Choose?

As indicated above, sawing and shearing offer many unique advantages. However, it is also important to keep in mind the disadvantages they hold. Together, this information can help you choose the right cutting method for your project. For example:

  • Sawing accommodates a variety of material thicknesses and shapes. However, it can be difficult to maintain contact between the cutting tool and the surface of flat material during cutting operations, which can lead to material instability and, consequently, cutting inconsistencies. As a result, the process is not ideal for cutting sheet metal and is instead best used with plates, bars, pipes, and tubes.
  • Shearing produces very straight cuts, but it cannot readily produce non-straight cuts. This quality makes it better suited for simpler, regular shapes rather than complex and intricate shapes. Additionally, the process requires a significant amount of force. This quality makes it possible to cut thinner sheet, bar, and rod materials (e.g., ½ inch in thickness or less) easily, but not thicker materials (since they may require more force than the machine can produce) or hollow materials (since they can deform).

Precision Sawing and Shearing Services at AAA Metals

Whether you need sawing or shearing services for your project, AAA Metals is here to help. We can saw and shear a broad selection of metals in various shapes, sizes, and quantities to tight tolerances. To learn more about sawing and shearing and how to determine which one is right for your cutting needs, contact us today.

AAA Metals also offers other metal forming methods such as waterjet cutting and laser cutting. To discuss your cutting requirements with one of our experts, request a quote.



Stainless Steel Polished Hex Bar

Did you know we could Polish Hex? We can! If your application is Architectural then we are your call. Here is a Before and After of an 1-1/4″ Hex x 144″ Long.

Hex Bar Metal Stock