Although the supply of structural steel can come in many shapes and styles, the definition of those materials can become a little confusing when they are abbreviated.

Typically, most types of steel supply have a degree of nomenclature that can be abbreviated for ease of identification.

As steel selection is dependant upon the type of operation if is required for, when selecting a steel for fabrication, some types and styles work better than others for providing an economical design while others are selected for their structural properties or assistance in generating a standardise dimension, by selective use of a particular type of material.

To clarify some of these materials, there abbreviations are as follows: –

SHS – Square hollow section – Typically an equal distance structural steel where both the external sides form a square – SHS 50x50mm for example. Structural steel is generally hollow as its engineered strength is in proportion to the material thickness and is not required to be a solid bar due to weight and material cost.

RHS – Rectangular hollow section – Occasionally used to identify SHS, this is generally used to identify hollow sections where the external dimensions are different. With a larger profile along one of the sides, it can be used where along the longer side more structural strength is required – RHS 100x50mm for example.

CHS – Circular hollow section – This is tubular material where the material is identified by the external diameter of the tube and its thickness. This is not to be confused with Pipe scheduling which is similar but more technically directed towards engineered wall thicknesses. An example of this is 48.3mm x 3mm

BAR – This is solid material which is not hollow and can be identified as either square/rectangular section or round. In smaller sizes it is generally used as a cut length, where as in larger dimensions it more suited for matching of components. 25x25mm Square / 10mm Diameter being 2 examples.

SHEET – Used to reference thin panels of materials where it is generally supplied in typical sizes of 2mx1m sections being an example and where the thickness is generally under a few millimetres or to a specific ‘Sheet Gauge’ thickness. 2000x1000x3mm sheet as an example.

PLATE / FLT – Plate or ‘Flat’ would again be materials where the thickness of the solid material is significantly less than the supply width or length of the original material, but where the thickness is ‘over’ the few millimetres thickness as observed as being ‘sheet’. Plate is typically the same original dimensions as ‘Sheet’ but thicker, example being 2000x1000x10mm. Flat is again as ‘plate supply’ but supplied in lengths of strip format, example being 100x10mm – length is generally supplied in typical 6m.

Further structural materials are again able to be abbreviated but are not always as generally common, UB – Universal Beam ( I – Sections where dimensions are not generally equal – typically used as horizontal sections ) / UC – Universal Column (I – Sections where dimensions are more equal – typically used as vertical columns) / PFC – Parallel Flange Channel (C- Section).

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