The steel industry is comprised of complex processes and involved scientific reactions to create strong, durable metals that can be utilized for a wide range of applications. While invaluable for the development of this country, structural steel is full of terms and nicknames that can often befuddle the average citizen. Today, our steel fabrication company will continue to look at a few of the many terms surrounding steel and its many uses. Sanilac Steel is proud to be a powerful contributor to our community development. Since 1967, our structural steel fabricators in Michigan have worked to improve and refine our processes to maximize efficiency and safety. Once you have read up on a couple of these key terms, feel free to contact our expert team today to get started on your project!


While an amusing term, in the structural steel fabrication sense, coke is the name of a basic fuel substance that is utilized during the smelting process. Derived from coal, coke is processed with the intention of removing some of the impurities and irregularities associated with the raw material. Coal, in its natural state, will burn randomly and end up breaking down into an unenjoyable sticky mess. Coke, on the other hand, burns evenly throughout the entire operation, creating consistency in a process that requires exact processes.

Cold Rolling

While metalwork is pictured at molten metals and heated tasks, the act of cold working can actually prove to be a very beneficial process. One issue of working metal at a high temperature is that it does not retain its structure, becoming loose and soft. As such, it can be challenging to find a way to increase the strength and hardness of the metal. Cold rolling, which also includes continual stretching and hammering, aims to change the composition of the metal while it is cold, resulting in a much stronger product that is harder and much more durable than before. How cold? Many tasks require cold working at room temperature.


This term envelopes a wide range of definitions, including the different types of corrosion that occur. In terms of structural steel, corrosion is the process of breaking down the metal based on chemical reactions between the metal itself and its environment. The rate at which your metal breaks down depends heavily on how reactive it is. Pure iron, for example, is very reactive and therefore very prone to oxidation. Oxygen and sulfur are both oxidants that react with the metal over time, oxidizing the surface and causing structural breakdowns. Rust is one of the most common types of corrosion, as it aggressively eats the metal that it comes into contact with. Incorporating other materials is essential for combating this problem, creating materials like stainless steel to fight the oxidation process.


Another term that you may often hear throughout your travels centers around this term that describes the properties surrounding steel’s ability to change without breaking. Measuring the tensile strength is the most common approach for discerning the ductility of a steel product. Essentially, forces are placed on the metal in order to deform it, continually applying pressure until failure occurs. Once done, the results of how far the metal stretched and bent before rupturing is compared to the measurements before starting the process. The purpose of your metal can help to determine its ductility requirements. Aluminum, for example, is one metal that is both very malleable and ductile.


Ferrous metal is one term that you can find sprinkled in nearly every document or conversation surrounding structural steel. Basically, metal is divided into two categories:

  • Ferrous metals are comprised mostly of iron. Generally, these materials contain smaller amounts of other metals, elements, or components that aim to meet specific requirements for their intended use. Ferrous metals are also magnetic, meaning that a magnet will be attracted to their compositions (also known as ferromagnetic). These materials are also susceptible to corrosion. Metals such as carbon steel, stainless steel, and irons are considered ferrous.
  • Non-ferrous metals, on the other hand, do not contain iron and are therefore not magnetic.Metals such as copper, brass, zinc, and lead fall into this category. Materials that fall into this category are not prone to corrosion.


A common term that you may hear throughout your project is flux. This material consists of cleaning agents that are utilized to clean the metals by dissolving any oxides that are present. Flux is also handy for cleaning metals for processing, scouring the materials before welding, soldering, and so on. With limestone as a reactant, flux can effectively remove any impurities in the metal, removing built-up gases and slag to produce a clean, consistent product.

Any work involved with steel can be very content-laden, utilizing dozens of terms that may stymie those that are not experienced in the industry. Luckily, steel fabrication companies such as Sanilac Steel can help you and your team get the job done with safe, efficient results that are delivered with integrity and pride. Our structural steel fabricators supply Michigan jobsites with quality metal services every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more!